Monday, October 31, 2011

Parallel Universes

Oops! I am late.  I missed my Sunday post for the first time in a couple of years.

Early in our French adventure my good friend photographer Daryl Black emailed me about  the stone work in the medieval castles and churches I was photographing and the pueblos of northern New Mexico.  Not only were the materials and processes comparable but so too were the eras in which the castles, churches and pueblos buildings emerged.  In this juxtaposition are Sabron du Ponteves in Bargeme and Pueblo del Arroyo in Chaco Canyon.  The similarities in 1,000 year old ruins 5,000 miles apart are startling.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


In my first post of the post-France era what better subject than the venerable and aesthetic Ranchos Church more properly known as San Francisco de Asis.  Here yet another effort to show it differently, no mean task with an edifice that’s been photographed about 7 million times. Then, too, it continues the architectural exploration that so dominated my Provence posts.  The single viga top left is the punctum of this serene image.

Friday, October 21, 2011

One for One

As I 've sifted and sorted through the thousands of images from France searching for a theme for one last post, icing on the cake and redundant redundancy I’m offering one image each from, well, each place.  I figure the act of editing for the blog, a gallery show or a book serves as many masters and forces a closer critical look. How clever that I've got them all alphabetized and monochromatic.
Saint Julien Le Montagnier
St Remy
Sainte Marie de la Mer
Verdon Gorge

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Playground of the Super Rich

The display of wealth was mind numbing.  The opulence, indulgence and consumption were off the charts.  Heck, I knew that Antibes had the largest marina in Europe with 2,000 moorings and able to handle 100 meter craft so I expected some boats.  But nothing could have prepared me for the teak and fiberglass castles in Port Vauban and the sheer number of them.  It felt like you could walk across the harbor from deck to deck without getting your feet wet.   And we’re talking three story monoliths with twenty foot high bows and football field decks. Helipad optional.

When confronted with unimaginable wealth do you wonder where all that money came from and how in the world did so many folks strike it so rich.?   Many years ago I had a millionaire boss that I thought was richer than, well, God. He told me “There’s a whole lot less of a difference between you and me and me and somebody really rich.”  That was forty years ago and I probably didn’t really get it till seeing the toys of the super rich in Antibes.
We're winding down, folks.  This may be the last post from France unless I do a compilation, a sort of best of thing, or a black and white portfolio that's a more arty rendition of a memorable adventure.  There's a book rattling around in my brain, too.  I figure if I say it here I'll have to do it.  Oh, the pressure.

A plus tard, mes amis. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

La Barbabelle Again

Please revisit my La Barbabelle post below to see brighter richer images.  I had monitor calibration problems yesterday which I hope have been fixed.  Let me know if these new images are better.  Keep in mind that these were taken at dusk. Thanks everybody.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

La Barbabelle

In a trip marked by beauty, charm and history the most magical nights were spent at Barbabelle, Claude Verbraeken’s amazing estate just south of Baudinard.  Surrounded by 94 acres of olive groves and Chenes Verte or Green Oaks, the kind that host Truffles, this is one of the special places on the planet. 

The first such evening was wine and cheese at 11pm after a concert at a Danish composer’s home.  If you get the impression that some worldly and talented folks keep homes near Baudinard you’d be right. Feature bottles being passed to the patio through a window in the kitchen of a 17th century Provencal mas (farmhouse), candles flickering and cigarette smoke swirling in a soft summer breeze.  A movie moment to be sure. 
Second was an early evening dinner, very un-French, after a classic deluge that transformed summer into fall for a few gauzy hours. And I use the term dinner loosely.  It was really late lunch at Chez Francoise morphing into a dinner-like meal at Barbabelle.  A movable feast of pungent cheeses, peppery saucisson, figs and grapes from Claude’s trees and more rose.  Certainement!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Empty Promise

I heard of the closed tanneries from Claude Verbraeken an erudite Belgian expat with an estate near us in Baudinard.  When Claude learned of my penchant for the abandoned and derelict he said I had to see Barjols.  Although there had been an effort to convert the Industrial Revolution era leather factories into loft style studios and galleries he assured me there would be sufficient decay to satisfy my odd, um, cravings.   

The back story is that Barjols was a major tanning center for 150 years till the industry left for Marseilles and North Africa.  In 1835 there were 24 tanneries in Barjols and by the end of the century there were seven major leather producers.  But by 1950 just three tanneries, Fassy, Plauchud and Vaillant, were operating and the last one closed in 1983. 

Almost immediately an initiative was launched to convert the abandoned buildings into art spaces and apartments.  But the results nearly thirty years later are meager.  We counted two galleries, half a dozen ateliers and a couple of offices along with a few residences leaving the majority of the property to nature’s vicissitudes.  I found the vacant factories with their distinctly urban vibe juxtaposed with a picturesque village quite compelling and found myself tumbling the costs and realities of having a loft in the heart of the Var.  

Wanted: Adventurous Expats to establish art mecca in the hills of Provence. For more information call 575...

Saturday, October 08, 2011

A French Kiss

Gordes is the archetypal Provencal hill town or village perche.  And its tourist central for good reason.  Its setting is spectacular.  A set designer couldn't do better. It has high end boutiques, hotels and restaurants.  It’s surrounded by lush valleys with vineyards and orchards.  The town is picture perfect.

Instead of another postcard here’s some street photography from beau Gordes.
Who can identify the Brits?