11.15.2010

The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #10 Seek Out the Arts



You’d never know it based on my prior posts, but I didn’t actually go to Paris to party, gallivant and observe lifestyle traits, but rather to study and further my education. I studied French, Theatre and Art History. My classes were unique in the sense that on Monday we would discuss Manet’s Dejeuner sur L’herbe in Art History class and on Wednesday we would go see it in person at the Musée D’Orsay. For Theatre we would read a play as an assignment- such as Molière’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme and then the following week we would go see the live production at La Comedie Française. As you can imagine… I was in heaven.

The total immersion into the arts was an exquisite experience for me. Not only were we shown the world famous institutions such as the Louvre and the Paris Opera but our professors introduced us to smaller, niche museums and theatres. One experience I’ll never forget was seeing Ionesco’s La Cantatrice Chauve (The Bald Soprano) at a tiny theatre that only sat 20 people in the audience. We were so close to the actors- it practically felt like we were onstage ourselves!

My classes in France inspired me to seek out the arts and really incorporate them into my life- seeing the secret midnight quartet perform at the Louvre, for example, was particularly satisfying.

Back in Los Angeles I try to keep on my toes by seeking out independent theatre and film, attending art galleries and listening to live music. Being a patron of the arts is perhaps one of the most important aspects I took from living in Paris because it is an aspect of my life that brings me so much joy- a joy that I look forward to passing on to my daughter…

If you live in a large city and have access to a lot of cultural activities take full advantage- attend the symphony, the theatre, the ballet, the opera. Visit art galleries. Listen to writer’s talks.

If you don’t live in a place with a lot of artistic culture (or even if you do but find yourself longing for more) here are a few fun suggestions:

Reacquaint yourself with a musical instrument. So many of us learned a musical instrument as children. For me it was the piano and saxophone. (Yes! Saxophone- I went through a jazz phase). I recently picked up the piano again and take so much joy in playing.

Join a book club or your local writer’s group.

Write that novel you’ve always wanted to write. My writing teacher and mentor Alan Watt has recently published his book The 90 Day Novel. It is the ultimate writer’s tool to help you get the words on the page.

Or… if you are the adventurous type and feel like taking it to the next level…

Are you familiar with the idea of a salon? A salon is described as gathering of people in a fashionable household. These people are usually of intellectual or artistic distinction and get together to amuse each other with their pursuits. Well, I love the idea of holding an artistic salon in one’s own home.

Here are some ideas:

Enlist your musical friends and throw a concert in your home. Perhaps you could play a song on the piano, someone else could do a violin (insert any instrument here) solo, or someone could sing a song… This would be so much fun to do on the evening of a dinner party…

Are you artistic or do you have an artistic friend or friends? Turn your home into an art gallery and showcase their paintings or sculptures… Get really into it- wine, hors d’oeuvres, music…

Stage a poetry reading. You could have a theme such as romantic or Gothic poetry. Or you could read original pieces…

Put on a play in your living room. It could be a one act play or a series of short plays or even a night of improv. (This is especially fun if you are dealing with amateurs… that way the pressure is off and you know it is OK to laugh!)

As you can see the possibilities are endless.

I would love to know… how do you seek out the arts?

Won’t you stay tuned for # 9?

The Eiffel Tower at night is pictured above...


My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.

9 comments:

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

My husband and I are season ticket holders for a theatre here in town, mother and I hold tickets to another local theatre guild....we go to the art gallery but after reading your post I feel that we could explore so much more!
Such inspirational ideas...

CashmereLibrarian said...

What wonderful suggestions. While I don't live in a metropolis, I do live in a university town and there's always something going on. I admit to have become a little lazy. recently; you've inspired me to get out and partake!

Lacey said...

Thanks for your great suggestions. I just found your blog the other day, and I enjoy reading your posts, particularly about Madame Chic! :)

Beth Hazelton said...

Thank you for the kick in the pants. we are very fortunate to have so much around us here in Upstate New York (not to mention 2 hours away in the City.) Now I just need to get out there and enjoy it...

Rosalie Rigby said...

I am an artist so visit galleries often and mix with fellow artists. Your post has made me think of other areas I should be exploring such as theatre, music etc. What course did you do in Paris? It sounds great and I'll be going there.

Lisa D. said...

A long time ago, I left you a comment about how Virginia Beach seems like of devoid of the arts, and you encouraged me to look a little harder. :) I did! I've recently been to my first opera (Rigoletto - so fun!), and I've also been to some performances of the Virginia Symphony. I've seen some smaller plays and independent films...and it feels good. Even when I can't find anyone to go with me, I just go alone and enjoy some artsy time to myself. Thanks for the great advice.

~Lisa (The Coastal Chicster - I changed my name...to my name.)

vintagedreamer said...

Lovely post...inspirational. I try really hard to incorporate the arts into my life. Where I live, it does take more of an effort. I try to visit art galleries often and I love taking a trip into Chicago at least once a year to visit the Institute of Art. I have also found a newer theater company who have been putting on phenomenal performances. I really like your "salon" idea too...that has endless possibilities. : )

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Hostess- Thank you! Being season ticket holders at a local theatre is such a wonderful thing. It's also a great way to get involved in your community. We have a state of the art performing arts center that just opened in Santa Monica and I am looking forward to sinking my teeth in :)

Cashmere- great! University towns are the best- there is so much creativity going on...

Lacey- Thank you and welcome to the blog :) There will be much more on Madame Chic as well in the future...

Beth- You are very lucky- New York is probably the best place in America for the arts... there is so much going on!

Rosalie- Hello and welcome! I have just had a look at your website- your artwork is really stunning. I attended an American University in Paris called 'Accent' for the majority of my classes and I also took one language class at the Sorbonne. I hope you have a marvelous time in Paris.

Lisa- Oooh the opera and the symphony are my absolute favorite- they feel like such a treat, probably because those are the events the I attend the least. I'm so glad you've been inspired! xx

Vintage Dreamer- I'm so glad you like the salon ideas. They can seem ridiculous- especially because most of us are not used to doing those sorts of things but they can be so much fun. Especially if you have some really great friends and champagne- you can make a night of it!

Rose said...

I'm a lucky girl to live in a big beautiful city where there is lots going on- in fact sometimes i feel overwhelmed about how much i'd like to see

I like to think I would still make an effort to see things if i lived somewhere else- and actually I think you are right that perhaps people who can't fill time with a gallery or so on probably do get on and right that novel, paint that picture and so on.

I think your daughter will have a great cultural education and she is very lucky!

 
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