An American in Paris

- June 26, 2012

“Actually, five of us...”

There are actually five of us. That would be: three Santa Fe artists, a translator and moi – I've always wanted to use that French word properly. Actually I am a “Best Boy” Grip to photographer Thea Witt. Along with painters Francisco Benitez (Paco) and Michael Bergt, Thea, Paco's wife, Anne Marcy and I are making our way to Provence for a showing of work in the first two weeks of July in the village of Gordes. This 8th century mountain village shows evidence of its founding as a fortress during Roman domination of the area and is now a major tourist attraction, particularly during the summer season (sound familiar, Santa Fe?).

Thea, whose work captures the spirit of Santa Fe and the Southwest, joins Paco, who shows at NuArt Gallery and Michael, who is at Jane Sauer, as the members of this Santa Fe trio bring their individual visions to this group show next weekend. Anne and I are support for this artistic trio. Anne's profession is that of a translator working for a major European publisher from her home in the Terra Contenta area, where Paco also has his studio. I don't have a profession, being somewhere between a Best Boy Grip and sherpa. With the climbing season on Everest just ended, what's a sherpa to do? I do Thea's matting, framing and preparation for shows and, this time my job has meant giving up 99% of the space in my suitcase to 27 of Thea's images – leaving me scant room for ANY wardrobe befitting a European traveler. Since Thea's shows in Italy, China and Singapore in the past, we have figured out that carefully packed images in a suitcase bypass the often difficult situations with customs in foreign countries. Paco and Michael shipped their larger work weeks ago and everyone was delighted and celebratory when the work arrived unscathed and free of bureaucratic hassles in time for the show.

The show, entitled, “3 du Nouveau-Mexique”, will be mounted in the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs in this mountain village. Paco will be showing his stunning figurative, encausic images and Michael will exhibit work in tempera, while both have also brought drawings. Thea has included many images with Native American themes, owing to the keen interest in this subject matter on the part of both the French and Germans. Most European gallery spaces do not have a tradition of formal openings but, I am told, the traffic through the space can often be hundreds of people per day.

At least for today I am off sherpa duty and we can indulge my passion: the study of the Ballets Russes era of the early 20th century. We are off to the Musé dˊOrsay for a show about Misia Sert, the erstwhile composer and art supporter who was such a part of that milieu. There I go, trying to speak French again – I am hopeless. See you l'aprés-midi.