Friday, June 20, 2008


 “You’re just doing that to sell.”

Can anyone say something worse to an artist? . I remember after my first exhihition in 1975, an action-painting, mad Frenchman, was disturbed that I had sold a few of my small abstract water-colors.

“You paint small so people will buy them.” he said snarling.

I was a big fan of Paul Klee and Bissier at the time and work on paper I found sensual. I still do. You wouldn’t condemn le possionaire for blatantly trying to sell his fish. A strawberry stand on the roadside is not there to be picturesque.

If an artist paints to sell, he or  she’s not a true artist. If he or she  sells, it’s called success.

For the most part, that is why I avoided painting  Le Café des 2 Moulin, Le Tabac where Amélie Pouline waitressed in her wonderful movie.  It’s down on rue Lepic. I’ve  only gone there occasionally though I have given directions how to get there often to young girls seeking to find the magic Amélie bestowed on it. I sometimes want to say, “Have you seen Notre Dame yet?” But they are always so cute and curious and the film is a great love story, so I understand.

It had been a family owned neighborhood bar for years. I remember  having my first café au lait there stepping out from La Prima, just up  the street, my first official hotel in Paris. I was taken by all the men in work clothes drinking their café with little glasses of an amber liquid. Calvados  at 8 o’clock in the morning.

I went there recently on the way back from seeing my landlord around the corner. The space is still wonderful. There is a S shaped copper bar and the same WC door where the film’s disgruntled cigarette sales lady and the local lonesome customer display their silhouettes and love sounds.

I would safely say the ratio of lit up laptops to customers  is the highest in Montmartre.  I ordered  a café. The sugar jars were  like the ones we used to see on drug store lunch counters. Granulated with a spout. The one I reached for seemed a little stuck. I gave it a gentle TAP. Remember “when it rains it pours” well, that’s what it did. There wasn’t a familiar face around that I could share my faux pas with. I was certain the barman took me for a tourist.

I drank the candied coffee and read Le Parisiene and tried to act blaze. When I paid he asked how I liked  the coffee.

I told him it was alright.

“Not too sweet.”  He smiled.

“Perhaps a little.”

“Would you like another?”

I told him no, but I decided that this café would be top on my list to paint when I finished Le Progres, even if it was fashionably correct.  




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