Thursday, December 13, 2012

Geneve Journal: Dec 2-3

The movement of events, and my efforts of working on drawings, writings and recording some conversations with artist has curtailed what I had intended to be frequent posts relating to my time in Geneva.  It became clear early that the best I can do in short order is to give a general diary of my doings, since any deeper reflections, of which there have been some, would be longer in developing into a form suitable for sharing.  Alas, even that basic diaristic posting was back burnered pretty quickly.  Now, with a handful of days left in my time here, I'm going to try to sketch out the calendar of the past two plus weeks over the course of the next couple of days.

My previous post left off as the intrepid traveller oogled some terrifically weird and badly painted nudes at the Plainpalais flea market.

The following day, Sunday, I met up with an American woman living in France who I had met in '92.  I met Muriel in a small gallery in Hermance, a village further up the lake right on the frontier with France.  She invited me to dinner and invited me to stay at her place if I ever needed it.  I think I ended up staying at Muriel's house for a week or more and largely running around the area with her daughter Cheryl, and a couple of times hitchhiking back into Switzerland to catch the bus into Geneva. 
 On this Sunday, I met Muriel at the cathedral in Geneva and we drove to her place for lunch, stopping first to stroll around Hermance.

Plane trees in Hermance.
The communities around the lack all sport these bizarre looking trees.  They are often bulbous and deformed looking.  They're called plane trees and are actually a kind of sycamore, which makes sense given the look of their bark.  But the manner in which the trees are pruned all through renders them a little weird, mildly disgusting.  Muriel told me the name of the tree on our drive.  For 20 yrs, I thought of them as weird alien trees, but waited until this moment in the car to actually ask someone what they're called.  I half expected - or hoped they were a mystery to everyone. 

This memorial was carved by the deceased - prior to being deceased.

There were a couple examples of natural stones engraved with the names of the decedents.  I don't think I've seen this in American cemeteries.  They're very lovely.
After walking through the streets of Hermance, its beach and its cemetery, we crossed into France and had really scrumptious vegetarian lasagna.  My stomach recalls Muriel's status as a great cook perhaps more than my conscious memory.  Although, I remember one morning when we were devouring her homemade beignets as soon as they came out of the pan.

After lunch we drove up to Amphion/ collect rocks along the lake shore which she is using to - little by little - to build up the grade of a turnaround at her house.  

Another plane tree in Amphion.
There are a couple of baby sequoia trees in Amphion les Bains

 After collecting a couple of shopping bags of stones, we drove a little further to Evian - the place where the water is from.  Also on the lake, Evian has a quaint resort-like town center which feels a little like Vail in the Summer - except very French. 

There's a fountain flowing with Evian right from the source.  As we approached the fountain, couple was loading up their car with bottles they had brought to fill up with the stuff.   We each took a couple of swigs and descended the pitched streets back toward the lake.  We stopped in the church to take a look.  A simple but elegant, this church features a little aesthetic twist.  High up on the wall, flanking the nave are two rows of round paintings, I imagine depicting the stations of the cross.  only one is illuminated at time, for some short duration, then next one is lit.  What's crazy about thes paintings are that they are done in a very VERY naive manner.  Bright colors, flatly depicted scenes with naively rendered, cartoon-y figures, googly eyes and all.  The degree of craft feels very much like the homemade mural restoration of a portrait of Jesus done by that woman in Spain.  Just much more colorful.  It's unlike anything I've seen in a church.  Pretty wild and pretty great.  Although, I think they'd be hard to look at for long...not a type of imagery that inspires long contemplative study.  It makes me wonder if the sequential lighting scheme isn't just for preserving the work itself, but preserving the sensibilities of church goers.   It might be just too much to take in it's full gory glory.  If I can find any info on this work, I'll update it here.

So that was my Sunday with Muriel.  It was pretty great.  I caught the bus back to Geneva, and strolled around just a bit before catching the bus back to the apartment.
Spent sometime looking at the installation of gas can baby-devils decorating the tree outside the eglise de Madelaine on the Rue de Purgatoire. 
L'enfer de Bibi

Created by the artist Bibi and titled L'enfer de Bbi, it's one of the more interesting illuminated trees sprinkled around vieille ville. 

Les Delices

The following day was rainy/snowy, and my only venture to the outside was to visit Les Delices, which was Voltaire's first residence during his long exile in the region.   Along with manuscripts of Voltaire's writing and various artworks by artists of Voltaire's acquaintance, some of them depicting him throughout the house, the 2nd floor is devoted Houdon's sculpture of the seated old man.

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