GreenasSky A gambol in the goodies by Sloan Nota

A Paris, of Many


Paris realities

Now You See It, Now You Just Thought You Had.  Poster and church, by Sloan Nota.

Paris is simultaneously so many adjectives why pretend yours is more valid than Jean Paul the taxi-driver’s, or Walid the TV historian’s or Julia Child the famous chef’s? So here are some photos to convince you I’m not in Kansas anymore.

My apartment is in the 3rd arrondissement (or Paris district) of 20 arrondissements.

The 20 arrondissements of Paris

Cartwheel array of Paris arrondissements or districts.

The 3rd is partway through a gentrification.  It’s the hot and hip area which doesn’t vary enough from continent to continent to rouse much interest. However it’s deliciously placed and myriad destinations are walkable from here.

Graffiti in Paris's 3rd Arrondissement.

Paris 3rd Arrondissement graffiti, September 2016. Underneath is painted — in English — ‘Arts Area’. Photo by Sloan Nota.


gentrification in the 3rd

gentrification, by Sloan Nota

In New York you’re aware of the firm grid of streets and avenues above the southern morass of cow paths. Here major streets continually meet in mad stars of traffic, red and green lights (small by US standards) control traffic in wheeling directions — pedestrian, two- three- and four-wheeled vehicular. You haven’t lived till you find yourself staring into the intense face of a suit and tie bearing down on you on a speeding motor scooter.

I remember a long-ago dinner with an inane male type who boasted of having had his Mustang shipped to Europe. Oh so many streets he couldn’t have fit down let alone parked. Yesterday on one such street there was this sign on the left,

Plaque: Picasso and Balzac worked here.

Plaque where Picasso painted Guernica and Balzac wrote.

Two or three steps across the street from this another building with a sign in stone,

Louis XIII became king here.

Paris sign where Louis XIII became king an hour after the death of his father Henry IV.

History. The lives that have left their traces in Paris. Sure, maybe someone fudged a few yards on where Louis XIII became king but in the US the best we’ve got is the old saw ‘Washington slept here.’  Something sacred about this much significance ladled over the same patch of earth for continuous years.


Yesterday we found ourselves witlessly traveling along the back of the gendarmerie — countless navy-blue busses backed toward the building (the better to roar into action), Impeccable grillwork encapsulating each back-up light. Busses, police busses — for what other reason than massive mayhem? Yet France has its reasons. We are not frequenting large gatherings of people.

Yet on this same walk we passed massive doors into the building. Some wag had snapped a bicycle lock onto this ferocious lion-and-snake door-pull

Paris gendarmerie door-pull.

Lion-and-snake door-pull at Paris gendarmerie. photo Sloan Nota.

C’est la vie.

Categories art, contemporary society, history | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Wednesday in Paris

It’s now going on 10pm in Wednesday Paris — the local supermarket is closed. Who knew?  Following the zombie sleepless day that began with Monday breakfast and stretched like summer taffy into Tuesday night I hit the bed for a long sojourn in oblivion. And rose today to finally get my laptop online.

Here’s a bit from the Air France terminal, way back on Monday evening: Logan Airport, Air France terminal. On the tube an hour-long Hillary Clinton piece that trots around every well-known base on the playing field of her career.  Opinionated persons are interviewed, Clinton responds, in all the repotage not a scrap of new is found.

Could have been orchestrated by a PR team.  Hillary there to answer all the questions you know the answers to. I don’t realise how really off this show is until the next hour brings us the Donald Trump hour and I see how daintily they’re handling him. Gliding along bumpless, treating this man with the same deference they have Hillary Clinton. It’s not reporting, though it has all the recognizable set-ups.  Head shots of opining stake-holders framed by tasteful upscale furniture.

It’s not reporting because there’s no news here. This is a play in which the players connive to convince you that it’s news. They visit all the stations of the Hillary story you already know by heart and they check them off, bam bam bam.

Today on Facebook someone posted what were purportedly two versions of the same Wall Street Journal front page. One suggesting Trump is softening his tone, the other that he’s pushing a hard line. Same news cycle but aimed at different WSJ markets. This isn’t Walter Cronkite’s journalism, this is calculation.

Back in the Air France terminal, while one channel in your brain weaves in and out of presidential candidates, another channel is aware of of an escalating Beethoven symphony piped in from the ceiling.  While stewardesses who aren’t English-speakers pronounce names crammed with consonants or runny with vowels.  These people need to get to their airplane, this is the last announcement. Last. Two minutes later it comes again.  Again.  And last chance. Won’t someone volunteer to get on that airplane so it can take off?

I want you to see the slapstick. The ludicrous subversive comedy of the wait for the plane to Paris.

Meanwhile the most consequential Presidential race of our lifetimes is playing out all around us.

This is real life.


Today we start at Notre Dame cathedral. Inside, visitors raise their smart phones to photograph stained glass windows too far off to be resolved in a digital snap. The camera folk include those who have lit candles or even entered the “prayer only”  seating closest the front. Camera wielders likewise include those who brush past the nuns who beg money for the poor along the only route out.

The Pompidou Center, backtracking the same street — the same street as Notre Dame. The once avant garde contemporary arts center now comes off as badly in new of a new hairdo.  The white funnels like those on ocean liners now have flows of grime. The whole venue feels as painful as an ad from 30 years ago.

Inside, stirring art. The Beatniks — Keruac’s long march of typescript narrow under a road of glass. Ginsberg’s young voice reading Howl.  BonDylan’s here, with Ginsberg in a prayer shawl in the background perhaps hallowing a fire escape.

As my mother used to say, “Sorry this is long but I didn’t have much time”.

Categories art, history | Leave a comment

After They’ve Seen Pareeee

Paris Night by Benh Lieu Song.

Paris Night by Benh Lieu Song. Free usage, from Wikimedia Commons.

Tonight I fly off to live a long-held dream — to live a month in Paris, France. The apartment is rented, the list of succulent places is set, even my bags are packed. OK, so I’ll wear another set of clothes on the airplane, that zipped zipper on my suitcase will not be breached till I’m solidly in France.

Twenty years since I’ve been there.  You walk down those streets and know you’re connected to the steps of so many persons of  renown who also walked here back through the centuries .  Marie Curie, Ella Fitzgerald, Robepierre.  There beneath your feet, you’re like Peter Pan trying to smack his feet onto his shadow’s.

What are my plans? To move at non-touristic speed among wonders. Care to join me? I’ll post a piece of the city every day.

Categories art, history, pattern | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Diane Savona Sees Beyond Cloth

Diane Savona — her textile work wows me with its ingenuity, personal vision, its way of making more than you’d expect of little.  A thinker.

All images are from her website,

Diane Savona's, Structurally Unsound nearly-human textile art.

Diane Savona, Structurally Unsound. Textiles and everyday objects.

Highbrow textile art, Diane Savona

Overgrown Fossil by Diane Savona. Found/scavanged textiles, thread.

Highbrow textie art, Diane Savona

Diane Savona, found or salvaged textiles, thread

Highbrow textile art, Diane Savona

This Too Shall Pass by Diane Savona. Found textiles and bits of mechanical objects.

Diane Savona, Kiosk, textile art that includes text.

Diane Savona, Kiosk, textile art that includes text.

Some Savona quotes:

How do we learn history? Textbooks give us dates and leaders; students memorize facts for the test, but few people have a deep understanding of how our ancestors lived.

As a child I felt that lessons of wars and nations had little bearing on my family history. It was like studying weather patterns, gusting far above, knowing that my peasant grandparents had survived in thatched huts in Poland. What was their story? My art is created with that question in mind.

The objects I use are collected at my equivalent of archaeological digs: garage and estate sales. In my Passaic neighborhood, there are still large numbers of first and second generation immigrants from Eastern Europe. At these sales I hear the language and find the tools of my grandparents. There, I unearth items that were once commonly used in the domestic sphere – pincushions, darning eggs, crochet hooks – but are now almost extinct. I exhume forgotten embroidery and mending, and present them as petrified specimens.

My textile works are art and archaeology. They are the stories of past generations. By deconstructing past artifacts and preserving them in an archaeological presentation, I hope to change viewer perception of our textile heritage.


This Too Shall Pass
Ancient knowledge was preserved on clay tablets. As we progress from punched cards to zip drives, what information will be readable to future generations? Like rotary phones and typewriters (once cutting-edge communication) all equipment becomes obsolete.  By disassembling technological devices and sewing the parts tightly under vintage cloth, I am ‘fossilizing’ them – preserving their forms, not in the permanence of clay or stone, but in relatively fragile textiles.

This Too Shall Pass is a series of hundreds of 6” tiles, each mounted on industrial felt.

See plenty more of Savona’s work on her website


A note to my readers: This represents a radical rethink of my blog so I can spend less time formatting and more time making my own art. Hope you’ll enjoy seeing the increased number of artists appearing here.

Categories contemporary art, history, new media, words, literature | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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