At Chateau La Napoule

Chateau and Alps

Chateau and Alps

Arrival at La Napoule residency next to Cannes in France. I had already spent four days with my cousins in Paris, also meeting with some folks about possible future projects in France for me. So far just thinking.

So I arrive by plane in Nice and then to La Napoule, a medieval chateau that was refurbished completely by an American family, Henry and Marie Clews, in the early 20th century. Henry was a sculptor and Marie a singer with architectural chops who directed the renewal. As you can see by the photos, it is beyond belief gorgeous. The artists stay in the Villa Marguerite next door to the chateau, facing the Mediterranean Sea. Yes.

This is clearly the most beautiful residency I have ever attended, and the group turns out to be varied and sympa, French for sympathetique, I think. There is a Russian, a Romanian, a Spaniard, a Canadian, three from the U.S., and an Italian. Mostly visual artists, but a poet and I fill the writing category. I will actually work in both media. A choreographer from San Francisco is due to arrive today to finish the group of nine.

The group almost immediately leans in the direction of trash art, or more politely put, found object art created in situ (on site). An idea emerges… let’s make a boat, a socio-economic commentary on the yachts surrounding us at all the docks on the ocean. A proletarian boat, but it has to be seaworthy and travel at least long enough to deposit some of us on a neighboring quai. Should it be a catamaran for stability, or a canoe shape? A group enterprise. And the found object/trash angle seems quite hip.

The Romanian poet comes bearing gifts from her country. I am very moved… there is a flag, a red and white beaded bracelet for each of us representing the spring flowers and the light, or spirit; there is a glass orb containing various beautiful colored pieces of glass inside, and most impressively, there is a real egg for Easter hand painted… absolutely gorgeous and fragile. And Carmen offers us each a book of her poems in Romanian and French. Amazing. We will all wear the red and white bracelets as our symbol of unity.

I had imagined working on a small graphic story book about my mother, and also divorce. Maybe two separate stories. And I had brought images from early paintings that express some feeling about particular moments with my mom. And in the marriage. But the trash angle begins to influence me, and I think perhaps I need to find something here, something found, with which to create work. Will it come to be? Like the proletarian boat, I would like to believe so.