Going to an auction It happened in the Before Times. It was October 2019 BT. (I could say “BC” for Before Covid, but BC was already taken.) Anyway, my sister-in-law Kathy had a business trip to Paris, and I had arranged to meet her there for a few days. It turned out to be a brief but astonishing voyage of discovery.
Kathy was in Paris to attend a two-day Sotheby’s auction of selected works of the sculptors Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne. She was already well along in the planning of an exhibit of their work for the museum where she works, The Clark Art Institute, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and she had good reasons for being present at the auction.
Blanche Once upon a time, I knew a man who drove a very old, very white station wagon, dating from the early 1960s. He had named the car “Blanche,” and that has long topped my list of clever car names. I’ve always assumed the car was named for Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, but maybe it was simply a way to acknowledge that the car was white. Either way, I find it clever.
A century has passed World War I was officially over 100 years ago. The Armistice to end that terrible war—but then, aren’t they all?—was signed at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, hence 11:00 a.m. on 11 November 1918.
During the commemoration ceremony here in our little town, children read the names of the local soldiers who never came home, and put one candle on the monument for each of the dead. The mayor gave his speech, which included a recital of the official casualties from each country involved in the war (note: you can look up this information online. The numbers are quite simply devastating.). Our local choir sang some songs, including the Marseillaise, and two wreaths were placed on the memorial, one placed by the mayor to represent France, and one placed by a British man and a man from New Zealand, representing the Allies. It was all beautifully done.
About a dozen years ago, I made a single New Year resolution: to live more in my heart and less in my head. It turns out this one single thing is a lifelong process, at times frustrating, always fascinating.
In school, I earned A’s in math classes and was told I should consider a career in engineering. For a long time, my hobby was architecture; I used to design wildly bizarre floorplans, and even built models of a few of them. But engineering never interested me, and eventually I chose not to pursue architecture either.
I studied graphic design in college, and that was my first exposure to the cultural division between following one’s head and following one’s heart. We saw the painters and sculptors as the spacy ones who would probably never earn a living with their art, while we were the “smart” ones who used our art to find a better-paying job. I’m pretty sure those “spacy” artists thought we had sold our souls.