Dallas

I visited Dallas, TX, for the first time last week. It looks like a move will be imminent early next year as my husband’s company is located there. I really didn’t know what to expect, aside from the mental images of ranches and skyscrapers from the opening of the ’80’s show Dallas. Well, Dallas more than exceeded all my expectations.

It was vibrant, hot, clean, trendy, arty, did I mention hot? It was 109 degrees but this former Maine girl has acclimated to the intense summer heat, thanks to Tucson. I rode the Dart, the light rail system, as the traffic is epic. Dallas reminds me of a Southwest Boston. I visited the Dallas Museum of Art, the Holocaust Museum, the Kimball Museum, and the Crow Museum for Asian Art. There are trees and water, and I really miss both. I think I could be quite happy there. Beautiful city, very friendly people. I recently watched a documentary on the architect I.M. Pei titled I.M.Pei, First Person Singular. It’s available on Netflix. Excellent film and delves into his creative process. He has designed five buildings in Dallas, the two most famous are the Meyerson Symphony and Fountain Place. Fountain Place is the pyramidal building in the second right photo below. It changes shapes continuously as you walk around it, much like an optical illusion.

This is a photo storyboard I made with some of the iPhone photos that I took during my visit. Tomorrow I will post a tutorial on how to make a photo storyboard or blogboard in Photoshop. It’s a great way to showcase your photos.

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Cézanne’s Studio

In March I finally had the opportunity to visit Paul Cézanne’s studio located in the provincial town of Aix-en-Provence. He fled to his hometown of Aix when the vitriolic Parisian art critics denounced his work and refused to jury his paintings in the Paris Salon of the 1800’s. Considering how derisive the criticism was, it’s a wonder he retained the courage and desire to paint. The townspeople of Aix even left messages on his doorstep at one point, requesting he leave Aix as he was “dishonoring” the town.

Now you can’t walk one block without seeing a restaurant or shop with his name on it. There are even bronze ‘C’s on the sidewalk to walk in his footsteps. Cézanne is big business for Aix now.

I must admit, I didn’t fully appreciate Cézanne’s work until I had to copy his still-life paintings in college. I then began to understand the varied perspectives in his work and the humble beginnings of cubist thought. Think of it. If Georges Braque had not studied Cézanne’s paintings while sharing a studio with Picasso, Cubism may have had quite a delayed start. I personally like the fact Cézanne isolated himself in Provence and painted what he wanted to, not pandering to the desires of critics and the fickle public.

Cézanne built his studio on the Chemin des Lauves in 1902. When he died in 1906, his son inherited the building and subsequently sold it to Marcel Provence. Provence wanted to preserve Cézanne’s heritage and when he died in 1951, the studio was going to be razed by developers. Two Americans, James Lord and John Rewald created the “Cézanne Memorial Committee” and 114 American donors contributed a total of 7,500,000 francs to save the studio. I don’t understand why the French government didn’t intervene. In fact, there are only two Cézanne paintings in all of Aix, at the Musée Granet.

Before my husband and I climbed the stairs to the dusty but well-preserved studio we were told photographs were strictly forbidden. Why? I have no idea save for the fact the city of Aix (which nows owns the studio) wants to make a profit on the poor quality studio postcards in the gift shop. The studio is large with two huge picture windows and Cézanne’s objets d’art that he used for his many still-lifes are strewn around the room. One of the enormous windows used to have an unobstructed view of Mont Sainte Victoire but tall gnarly trees now surround the studio. The room is very carefully arranged to make you think Cézanne has left to paint plein-air and will return at any time. Eerie but effective.

Before I left the room I detected his painting smocks in a small corner. Yes, the Master’s clothing replete with thick splotches of oil paint. I then did what any entitled American would do when they feel their countrymen saved a foreign national treasure. I shut the volume off of my iPhone, opened up the Sneaky Pix app and furtively snapped a couple of photographs. Sneaky Pix makes it look like you are talking on the phone with a fake call screen but it snaps photos while you are pretending to talk on the phone.

After purchasing some over-priced souvenirs in the gift shop, we walked around the lush grounds. I thought how fortunate it was that two Americans took the initiative to save this piece of art history. Hopefully, he wouldn’t have minded my sneaky photos.