Friday, April 9, 2010

arrived in france... part deux


So here I am again… in France. But it’s different. I don’t know yet if that ‘s a bad thing necessarily but I just feel that I have no idea what to expect even though I’ve already been here before… I know this city I know what it is capable of in a sense. Yet at the same time I feel like Aix or France in general could surprise me. Perhaps this has nothing to do with the city or the country. No actually I know that it doesn’t. I’ve already done the whole…. Leave the country thing…. Leave your family your friends behind in America. That is not why I am feeling this way.

Oh there it is. I know it. …

My other “family” isn’t here.

I thought that I would be okay with this.. that I would arrive and somehow someway walking by the carousal where we’d always meet up wouldn’t be difficult. Or that walking to Marchutz would feel the same… or not like this anyways. I miss them so so so so so much. I don’t know if I can handle it actually. And it’s not just my Marchutz family. I have never felt so alone yet so at home all at the same time. Weaving my way through the cobblestone streets to my host mother’s house had the familiar feeling it once did… but pieces from my familiar were missing. I knew now that once I walked in that door I would always be entering it alone. Opening the door to my room that night was harsh. There was my bed. Freshly made…. A beautiful sight really but melancholy all the same.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

la police et la grave d'etudiant [the police and the student strike]


.since i didn't have my camera on me i have pulled these photos from other french student riots this past year to give y'all a feel of what i saw today... if i had my camera my photos would have the same content.

ya gotta give it to the french... they LOVE going on "strike" and are ALL about creating awareness of their disagreements with the government in any way possible... suffice to say...usually the message gets across. well today i had the privilege of witnessing my first "strike." indeed... the issue was not too pressing [in my perspective of being educated in an american education system which i much prefer by the way]. the students were high school students who were quite dissatisfied with only being offered 6 language courses...

basically they went on strike meaning they crowded the streets... stopped traffic... waved signs... got the police riled up all for a request to have another language course.


so here we have exhibit A. the first problem i have with the french education system.... the french believe that education is SO important that it would be absurd to leave this crucial part of life to anyone or anything else other than the government. well pardon my french frenchies but in my experience the government has messed just about everything up so why in the hell would you leave education to the government?!?

.typical french meanderers and "la police" equipped with their standard gear... this is what they were wearing today when i saw them.

PLUS. the teachers are randomly placed in schools, have difficulty with developing working relationships with their colleauges as they are not permitted to share lesson plans or anything of the sort... very isolated. in addition the french believe that every student is equal. great right? well my definition of equal and the french's definition of equal seem to vary to a point.... the french believe that all students should be at the same level ALL the time. let's not take learning disablitlies, different learning styles or just plain differences into account. let me make myself clear... i DO believe that we are all equal.. just different and that's a very GOOD thing.... it's what makes us... well... us.

so back to the strike....

i was walking to marchutz today and was wishing that i had my camera because the police were lined up in the street, night sticks in hand, some of them were actually hitting the students who were blocking traffic. it was INSANE. i don't think i've ever really witnessed such a thing since the Republican National Convention but even so... it was more drastic here. these are high school students! my god!

.none of the students were this decked out... i suppose they must pull out all stops when the protests go beyond requesting another language course :)

i have to admit that i am a bit jealous of these ambitious students. they have so much fire burning within them for social change within their own education system and they, like their predecessors do not just sit around [like some of us aaa hemmm.... americans] and wait for IT to happen. they get right out there... and show the world well mainly Sarkozy that they have something to SAY... and that he better LISTEN up. not only were the students crowding the streets the school had also locked the gate so that they couldn't come in... until they calmed themselves down.

just imagine american readers....

being so PASSIONATE about something as minor [so it seems] as wanting another language class that you would go out and protest and even risk getting hit with a night stick?! the french have such a magnificent history of social disobedience that i find to be so intriuging.

.riot gear again.. just your typical french police. a.k.a. every french woman's fantasy most likely.

i cannot wait to study this more in my "french culture" class... perhaps i'll request a guest speaker about it... and if i don't get it.. well... get your night sticks ready police :)

[here is a link to a 2006 student protest in france... this way you can get a visual idea of what i'm talking about... what i saw today is not as extreme as this footage... but the idea behind it is the same].

Sunday, October 18, 2009

RAVE en Aix-en-Provence= marble lions by the poolside

.Marchutz Grande Nuit.

starring..... Martha, Mary, Katja, Olivier et moi!!



*Mary, Katja, moi et Martha*

***** so as this post suggests.... we went to a flippin' RAVE friday night and it was outta this world crazy!! though it was 20 Euro... and potentially not worth ALL those euros.... we felt that it was all entirely worth it. the it? = Get 27 drinks... marble lion sculptures... the dance floor and so so much more. Our evening went off with a blast at Mary's apartment encore. katja and i arrived around tenish shortly after getting nausseated in monoprix [france's equivilant of target].

*Martha et Olivier sharing a moment of l'amour*

*waiting for Olivier looking like Curella Devil*

we waited for our driver, martha's lover Olivier who is shown in various photos throughout this entry... he is one of our french friends whom martha and i went to avignon with. we actually met him and his friend thibault at a bar called o'shannon's whilst watching a marseille football match. all was good in da hood when we got to mary's... we just waited and chatted about how our evening would then commence. Soon enough Olivier arrived with full anticipation that we would have a grand evening... which we did... oh did we ever! after meeting up with thibault and company we drove onward to our destination which looked a bit sketchy at first may i add.... it appeared to be in a shed... but we were not disappointed upon arrival. thank god for fur collared coats! i was toasty in my coat and was the envy of all of my friends who were sans coats.

*potentially my first glance into the club*

*as Katja says "my partner in crime for the night... oh and always"*

we finally entered the club and meandered into a terrace with an outdoor pool garnished with these infamous marble lions i so often seem to speak of ;) gradually we began to hear the music and after scoping out the scene.... we decided to check our coats. GOOD decision as it was smug and the air laced with thick humidity. the d.j. of the night was not even playing yet when we arrived at around 1 A.M. that's how different the frenchies are i guess when it comes to gettin' your groove on at the main stage...

*and my second glance?*

*notice the uneven ratio of men to women here... but they're frenchie men.. who often confuse stalking with romance... oh and please... more sleeve please gents*

the air tightened with smoke and beats as the music picked up and pretty soon we were all lost in the beat that could only be rung up by the d.j.'s of the french nuit. occassionally we took a rest and visited thibault and friends who were lounging on the 1930's style sofas alongside the walls of the club.... i felt like a 1930's heirress granted one evening in the 21st century... it was marvelous. and of course we took breaks outside.... had to appreciate those marble lions of course ;) here are some photos taken outdoors from the evening... the best part is yet to come... and by that i mean the car ride home mes amis ;)

*Mary et Martha*

*living our lives... to the fullest.... glass half full? definitely.*


... it deserves its own heading.
p.s. "dans la voiture" means inside the car.

*Oh Olivier...*

.... so unlike our original plan of Olivier driving us home which was axed by all of us once we saw the condition that Olivier seemed to be in a.k.a. incapacitated. we decided that mary should drive home by process of elimination... whatevs it was all good. the thing is... how do you drive home when your navigator does....

a. not speak very good english.

b. attempts to sit on the windowsill of the car whilst the car is moving... hence me yelling
"dans la voiture olivier! maintent!"

c. is not very available for directions...


yes... "The White Stripes" came on and Olivier did not realize that we knew of this band... despite the fact that they are american... we are american.... they are american... and he is french... hmmm....

*Olivier attempting to get in the backseat most likely... or informing us of his PASSION for Jack White of "The White Stripes"*

.....well nonetheless favorite quote of the night:


[what we were listening to specifically i believe]

ultimately HILARIOUS.

.... so we got home safely.

*************************************but miraculously ;)

"Don't Stop till You Get Enough" .....thanks M.J. ;)


also known as the best nights of our lives. we all look forward to these dinner parties which end up being dance parties... photos are evidence of such. my life in france is a life i hope to never forget and always remember as being.... "the time of my life."

"gettin' down to some M.J. most likely.... all coordinated dance moves led by nick... front and center."

"this is how we live."

..... so last night was yet another "marchutz family night." i use the word family in the truest of all forms... we really are like brothers and sisters that came together after years of being apart.... some how we all get each other and it's great...couldn't ask for a better group. as i said last night i think part of why we might all get along may be that NONE of us are bad dancers... as you can see from these photos yeah? hahaha


these dinner parties tend to begin with all of us bringing something to contribute and they are ALWAYS at mary's crib. which is a beautiful apartment overlooking the lovlieness of aix-en-provence. let's see what was served for dinée last night.... salmon bites... sauteed mushrooms... chili [courtesy of miss joy lang]... baguettes.... cheese fondue!! and lots of adult drinks... such as bailey's hot chocolate which was heaven in a mug ;)

"I wanna rock with you!!"

[this link of M.J. jammin out pretty much describes the dance moves goin' on in these photos.... LOVE IT.]


soon enough the dancing began and let's just say it didn't stop until at least three in the morning even though there were intermittent parts where we had to take a break.... me taking a nap in my fur coat and of course the conversations inbetweeen those breaks were all priceless as well.


"O'Neill intervention with the Marchutz bros."

"Our [Katja et moi] version of interpretive dance."

these past few days in the landscape have caught me wondering... am i really existing in my life right now?!?! i mean it's CRAZY. here i am in the southern france landscape painting mt. st. victoire with good company and trying to keep up with the vast light changes on the mountain... sometimes when i would look up the mountain would morphe into this DEEP purple... which was gorgeous beyond description. other times there would would be a sweeping highlight of sun that would streak down the mountain.... both incredibly difficult to translate with a paintbrush onto your canvas.... nonetheless i managed this feat with some suggestions from Charley who couldn't help himself from giving me tips on my painting.

"Katherine! you need a streak of yellow.... right there... no wait EVERYONE!! get that green yellow tree.... do it QUICK!!"

us: "Charley... DO YOUR OWN PAINTING!!"

haha... thanks Charley... actually... because your suggestions were quite valid indeed.


i still am in LOVE with my host mother Héléne whom i call "madame." her cooking is marvelous... she is marvelous... my life is marvelous. she is just adorable. the other night for dinner it was just she and i so she said in her best english possible...

"my darling it is just us two... dinner for lovers!"

awwwww madame... i love you too!

she still does all my laundry... god bless her for getting all that turpentine out of my pants!

vocab lesson for all you civilians who are unfamiliar with that blasted chemical known to us artists as turpentine....

oh how it is a volatile substance that costs me 4 euro every time i have to refill it...errrr.

tur·pen·tine (tûrpn-tn)
1. A thin volatile essential oil, C10H16, obtained by steam distillation or other means from the wood or exudate of certain pine trees and used as a paint thinner, solvent, and medicinally as a liniment. Also called oil of turpentine, spirit of turpentine.
2. The sticky mixture of resin and volatile oil from which turpentine is distilled.
3. A brownish-yellow resinous liquid obtained from the terebinth.

oh how it is a volatile substance that costs me 4 euro every time i have to refill it...errrr.
speaking of euros... mon ami stephen in the iau program just told me this past week that aix-en-provence is in fact the SECOND MOST EXPENSIVE CITY TO LIVE IN FRANCE!!!! they should really put THAT info in the brochure for future suckers like me who wouldn't trade any of this experience for the world... hmmm just looking at this statement makes me realize that i am so in love with this place that not even money could set me apart from it!

so last week.... i got REALLY sick in the landscape... threw up twice! poor charley and o'neill who were painting next to me. i got a ride home early from john thank god.... i was miserable. threw up five more times that day and then my host mother gave me this lemon dissolving tablet and i went to sleep for like 12 hours and was mostly better the next day. ohhh was it awful!

p.s. the french have an INSANE fear of the "swine flu" which they refer to as "la gripe." so even though my host mother realizes this irrational fear that the french have over "la gripe" others were not so understanding... Yamina who is the school administrator or something was freaking out over it.... but mes amis I AM FINE!!

p.s.s. unfortunately my professor Alan's companion Cathleen had the same sickness a few days later so as we were all in the car we as in... martha, nick, jammin and i going to french since we had a delayed seminar on light which was AMAZING.... will update on that one shortly..... anyways so i needed to call madame on Alan's phone to ask madame what medicine she had given me so Cathleen could hopefully have the same fate as i. well as Alan gave me his phone to call i opened it... and voila... 15 NEW MESSAGES!!! so i said...

"Alan... you have 15 new messages... are you aware of this?"

[laughter from nick and martha at this point].

"yeah.... yeah... and they're all sayin 'you're an asshole alan... you're an asshole in one way or another."

[out of control laughter from ALL of us now..... gawl i just need a tape recorder on me at all times around that man he is HILARIOUS!!!]





p.s. leave your comments as i enjoy reading them!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

photo updates! all photos by either o'neil cushman or kaja barko [both marchutz comrades].

Professor Alan Roberts [amazing] he came here in the seventies to go to a Cat Stevens concert with his friends, had never painted before, but followed his amis to the Marchutz School of Art, took some classes.... and never left. Became a student of Leo Marchutz and a scholar of Paul Cézanne. he is without a doubt one of the best teachers i have ever had.

Martha and Mary and I chilling at Mary's house with the Marchutz family after the Picasso et Cézanne exhibit. we had a potluck which are quite common now, as we all love to spend as much time together as possible.

here we have the feet of four Marchutzites.... Kate, O'Neill, myself, and Katja Barko's. a night out on the town of aix-en-provence... most likely taking a break from our crazy dancing at I.P.N. a club which is run by the french mafia ... oohh la! la!

another photo from after the Picasso et Cézanne exhibit at Mary's apartment... here we have Nick [the interpretive dance moves which he is now infamous for are only starting to show themselves at this point], Kate, Charley, et O'Neill.

Nick and I at Vaucluse most likely after we raided the hot chocolate machine otherwise known as chocolat fort.

Our other Marchutz professor Monsieur John Gasparach.... he is lovely. also a student of Leo Marchutz. he takes us on our excursions usually and seems to always take on the role of "dad." "don't touch that kids!" haha here is showing Charley and Jammin something...

Nick et Martha walking in the landscape where we go daily.... lately anyhow. Mt. St. Victoire is directly to their right. I usually paint right about where they're standing.

the inside of the studio... awww...

the studio where i walk 30 minutes every day to paint..... beautiful isn't it?!

everything that has happened since i last wrote in this.... well almost everything ;)

Alas it has been awhile since i have last confessed to this online blog of mine.... since sept. 20th apparently!! well like my title suggests these following blog entries will attempt to address everything that has happened since then... with the exception of not including EVERYTHING ;) meaning my memory cannot possibly contain all of the events which have taken place in the past few weeks... unfortunate i know.

so let's begin maintent [it means "now" in french and is subsequently my favorite french word to insert into english conversations] with an e-mail or an update i sent to my lovely advisor/art history professor dr. amy hamlin [at st. kate's]... believe this was sent on sept. 27th.... i talk about my classes, which i am sure is a relief to some of you to hear that i do actually attend to school as unbelievable as it may seem at times...

"My professors here are phenomenal, I don't think that I have ever been

taught to see the world from this perspective when I am drawing and painting.

They [my professors] are very focused on giving the paper a

life of its own and working with paper rather than forcing it into a

constrained volume. We have read readings by Rembrandt which have been

quite enlightening, Rembrandt suggests that we think of "the whole"

as we are drawing rather than segregate the subject onto the paper. The other

day we did an exercise to "loosen" our drawing techniques. First my professors

put on some tango music and we drew with our hips,

arm clinging to our side, only guiding our pencil with the movement of our hips....

very amusing. Then we drew with the pencil in our mouths, and left handed as well.

I discovered that I draw even better left handed, probably because my brain is not

monitoring my hand as much. Two nights ago my class and professors went to the

Picasso et Cézanne exhibit, a comparison between the

two artists. I have to say I am infatuated with Cézanne's "L'homme a la pipe,"

how Cézanne is able to give birth to such a painting while evoking such an

orchestrated harmony with reds and greens is a delightful

mystery to me. My friends and I went again to the exhibit last night as it was

open until 4 in the morning! There was dancing and music with beaucoup des personnes.

I don't think that I have ever been in a museum

until the wee hours of the morning, it was a memorable night to

say the least.

Well, I must go to the school now to work on my Van Gogh copies, the more

copy paintings I complete of Van Gogh, the more I realize how genius he was!"