Black bear eating from my apple tree, August night, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Heading out west for a wildlife experience in the Channel Islands of California. My Ecrater and Etsy stores will be closed until October 12th, but check back to this blog then for new coupon codes in the right hand column. New ebay items will be listed for auction on October 12th as well. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Art (and Artists) in Cemeteries.

Perhaps one of the most interesting graves I've ever seen, that of the artist Tristan Tzara. He was a founder of "Dadaism," a literary and artistic movement based on nonsense and found objects. I love that a fan took the time to grab a few pebbles and spell DADA on this plot. Quite fitting! (Montparnasse, Paris)
Here lies the body of brooding, tormented artist Chaim Soutine (Montparnasse), one of my favorite painters. Sadly, he died of an ulcer that could have been treated if he'd not fled to the countryside during World War II. In another pathetic and ironic twist of fate, he is buried beneath a Christian cross. Chaim was Jewish--his lover at the time didn't realize this when she had to make his final arrangements. Soutine was always a pessimist, so this is probably what he would have expected.
The dual grave of both Gertrude Stein and her longtime companion, Alice B. Toklas. Gertrude's modernistic writing has always flabbergasted me, but I appreciate that she kept a wonderful salon with the likes of Hemingway, Matisse, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, in 1920s Paris. The actress Kathy Bates played her marvelously in the recent Woody Allen pic, "Midnight in Paris."
The grave of sculptor Henri Laurens, famous for his bulbous figures. This one is especially moving--a person bent over, prostrate in grief. (Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris)
Before I bore you to death (pun intended) with my blog posts about hanging out in cemeteries, I'd like to remind people that cemeteries aren't always solemn. A cemetery may be the place you go to in order to feel closer to a loved one who has died. I understand that, and I mean no disrespect. But sometimes, visiting a grave of someone you connect with is a pilgrimage of sorts. This is why so many people visit Jim Morrison's Parisian grave in droves, and why Marilyn Monroe's crypt is so popular in LA. It's one way, the only way, in fact, that you will ever be physically close to that person again.

I love this ceramic cat grave in Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris. Look at all the surrounding, somber gray headstones in comparison to this delightful, colorful sculpture. I know nothing about the person in this grave, just that its cat made me smile on a dreary, overcast afternoon.
A few of my readers asked me to post more graves that I have visited. Because I am biased, most of the graves I sought out in my short time in France happen to be those of artists. It's kind of sad that today's cemeteries are so boring. Everyone seems to have the same flat granite stone. We've lost the sculpture, statuary, and interesting stories left behind for future generations.
The grave of Polish composer Frederic Chopin. Note that his stone reads, quite humbly, "Fred." Supposedly, Chopin was never haughty. always approachable, and the rock star of his era (late 1800s). It's rumored that strains of music can be heard in this section of Pere Lachaise cemetery, a division famous for the many musicians interred there.