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.