Postcard from Toulouse, France: Arts festival reflected on contemporary condition

“Going from Nowhere. Coming from Nowhere,” a neon installation by Maurizio Nannucci, casts reflections onto the Garonne River during Le Printemps de Septembre.

When we were in Toulouse this past fall, several of the city’s major museums were closed for remodeling, COVID or a combination of the two reasons. They were all scheduled for reopening in early 2022, so probably have unlocked their doors by now.

The arts were not being ignored though, particularly during Le Printemps de Septembre, a month-long city-wide celebration that ran through mid-October. The theme for the 2021 festival was “Sur les Cendres de l’Hacienda/On the Ashes of the Hacienda,” a theme selected pre-pandemic and promoting artists who expose disaster, stand up to it and look ahead. For the gallery-hesitant, the night-time illuminations along the banks of the Garonne River were stunning.

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Postcard from Bordeaux, France: Blending touches of modernity in with the old

Above: The view from our bedroom window in our rental in Bordeaux

Mysterious mushrooms appeared popping up from the traditional tile rooftops surrounding our temporary headquarters in the midst of the historic center of Bordeaux. And tucked behind the residential building next door was a contemporary adaptation of space for brightening up offices – most likely for attorneys, as shingles on first floors all around us seemed to have as primary occupants.

As we explored, we found the mushrooms sprout up from a major ultra-modern addition behind the 1846 Palais de Justice fronting Place de Republique. Architect Joseph Adolphe Thiac (1800-1865) drew his inspiration for the impressive fa├žade of the original structure from the Parthenon. Not visible from the square, the new construction does not intrude upon the classical majesty of Thiac’s design.

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Postcard from Merida, Mexico: Contemporary art with metaphorical humor

Above, “Memento Mori,” by Rodrigo de la Sierra

Dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of modern and contemporary art in the Yucatan, the Fernando Garcia Ponce-Macay Museum opened in 1994 in a prominent landmark (built in 1573) on Merida’s Plaza Mayor adjacent to the Cathedral. A passageway between the two was enclosed with glass in 2001 and offers the opportunity to house large works for the public to interact with on a daily basis.

The main exhibition while we were in Merida early this year placed Timoteo in the spotlight. The plump, elfin-like, endearing Timo allows artist Rodrigo de la Sierra “to embrace the subtle art of the metaphor.”

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