Sunday, August 31, 2008

Travel Along The River Of Life

At times, as I travel along on the river of life, the sights and sounds are so fantastic and varied, that I realize they are impossible to grasp in entirety and I am missing vast territories. Paris is a great pastiche, and on a short walk along Rue de Rivoli, a major boulevard passing through Le Marais district, I noticed the fantastic variety of shops in just three blocks and jotted them down: music, flowers, clothing, biological beauty aids, currency exchange, bio food, pizza, fruit and vegetable market, honey shop, restaurants, optical, pharmacy, cheese shop, sushi, delicatessen, shoes, bread and pastry, wine shop, jams and marmalade, meats, furniture, toys, handbags, and more! Dazzling!

Paris people are fashion conscious—sophistication is important. Women like to accent femininity, and most wear dresses.

I have made two paintings and taken hundreds of street photographs. I also met Ange, a young American who is visiting Paris and models for artists. She is 27, and get this, she is a lawyer, a forensic psychologist, a painter, and speaks four languages. We visited the Rodin Museum together and looked closely at the sculptures to get ideas for poses, and then came back to my apartment where she modeled. The other museums I have been to this time in Paris are the Pompidou, Musée d'Orsay and Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Versailles is on my short list.

World-class cities like Paris have so many attractions that there is always something for everyone. When I leave after two weeks of visiting and working, I will have experienced some of what is offered and also missed much. In four days, I hit the trail again, to visit another famous place: Rome.
Click Paris Pics to seem some recent photos.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


It is rather incredible how THE DREAM unfolds, always bringing astonishment and myriad surprises to my senses. Now I am in Paris, a sensory heaven. I have a fifth floor flat in a district called Le Marais, one of the oldest parts of the city. From here, it is easy walking to landmarks such as the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral. Most of the streets are cobblestone and filled with bars, restaurants, and shops offering fine clothing, art, delectable food and more. The apartment is small but comfortable and quiet, with a big window looking out to buildings and rooftops, and letting in plenty of light so I can do my artwork. This Sunday morning, I am writing at a desk by my open window and hear cathedral bells . . . a sound that enlivens my bones and uplifts my spirit.

Paris is expensive, but I am inspired by famous French élan and sophistication everywhere, so my creativity benefits and I can accept paying more during this portion of my travel. Gaiety is in the air . . . something I noticed on past visits. It is almost palpable. Maybe it is because the city offers so much history, nuance, and pleasure that people overflow with cheerfulness and excitement.
The late-summer air is perfect and the tourists are thinning out. My friend Frederique has given me some tips, including that I must visit Versailles. I have only been here two days, but there is so much to do, I am sure the two weeks I have planned will be an incredible dream that passes too quickly by.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008


Ducking. This word is an odd figure of speech that has different meanings, including: to lower the head or the body quickly to avoid a blow or so as not to be hit by something. I thought that the meaning must have evolved from the common description of a water bird with webbed feet, short legs, and a broad flat bill, found all over the world. Often, when this creature is on water, to feed, it will suddenly push its head down under the surface and then come back up. I have learned that the name for the bird, “duck”, comes from the action it imitates!
As I have to spend many hours photographing in the streets of cities, an occurrence happens regularly where people will see me at a spot with my camera pointed waiting to take a picture and they try to "duck" underneath and politely get past me. I am waiting to get people in my photo, so snap the picture as they go by. Now I have a sort of collection that I call ducking.

I have enjoyed my current apartment in a bohemian area of Berlin called Kreuzberg. The flat is across the street from a park, sunny and spacious, with all the amenities, including Internet, at less than half the cost of a hotel room. In Berlin, I have made five paintings, and by the time I leave will have taken a thousand photos. It is getting cooler, and my clothes are all for warmer weather, so Thursday I am “ducking” south to Paris, and from there will “duck” on down to Tunisia.

Click "artistic photography" to see Steven Boone photos from the streets of Berlin.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Scratch Under The Surface

I feel I am just beginning to scratch under the surface of Berlin and German culture. A short stay is not enough to get through the seemingly hard external to the warm pulse inside. On the outside, German life can seem brusque because people are almost the opposite of “laid back.” Maybe that is why there is so much beer drinking: a means to slow themselves down for a while, which they can’t seem to accomplish otherwise. In the classic balance of yin (feminine) and yang (masculine), Germany is on the yang side, trying to be in harmony with yin. The first country I visited on my trip, Belize, was very yin; almost laconic to the point of lacking an impulse, and opposite of Germany.
It was in Belize that I met Steffen, who was visiting there from Berlin. And now six months later, by surprising circumstances, we see each other again in a land of an opposite culture. Through Steffen, I now have a bicycle and have met several of his friends and seen Berlin more intimately. Wow, without him, I might have missed a 7000 ft. (2000 meter) stretch of the Berlin wall that is still standing, covered with artwork and graffiti. By the time I leave for Paris, I will have taken maybe 400 pictures along the wall. I stand back and click my shutter as people pass in front of the artwork. Sometimes I choose a slow shutter speed, so the people are blurred and the artwork is focused. This adds intrigue and mystery to the fascinating scenery. The wall was originally a tall, long, white, concrete slab—what a magnet for street artists longing to tattoo it with their tags!
Speaking of tattoos, it seems at least half of the people have permanent body decoration, ranging from a butterfly on an ankle to full fledged apocalyptic visions covering the entire body, neck to toe. I have been thinking of getting one. It has been in my mind for several years—a snake wrapping around my wrist and biting my hand. Perhaps Berlin is the place to scratch some ink under the surface.
Another wonderful contact I have in Berlin is Anne. We first met in Santa Fe four years ago when she was an exchange student and I was a mentor for her in art through her American high school. Now she is in university studying linguistics and we have met again. Her English is great, so we can talk freely and share thoughts and perceptions. We went to a fabulous Berlin museum called Gemäldegalerie that possesses one of the world's finest collections of European art from the 13th to 18th century, including works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Durer, Rubens, Velasquez, Caravaggio, Titian and many others. I get inspired standing so close to masterpieces I have seen in art history books . . . and then, being with Anne, the hard external is broken and I am no longer an outsider, but feel the warmth inside German life.

Sunday, August 03, 2008


It was not long ago that Germany was an empire in ruins, divided in two parts, almost schizophrenic. Add to that the national horror of its Nazi past, and you get a country trying to scramble out of trauma and reinvent itself for the future. Maybe this is why Berlin seems lacking in aggression, almost quiet, even though it is an active place. So many possibilities exist here, since it has a deep culture and vital economy. The people want answers and look to the future; incredibly, Barack Obama’s largest gathering at a speech was the 200,000 in Berlin July 24.
Germany is environmentally conscious. I was at a checkout in a grocery store and stood confused when my items did not receive a bag. People are expected to bring their own. Bicycle paths share the sidewalks and you better watch not to walk in the area for cyclist or one will zoom up behind you and ring his bell. It is common to see people take their bikes onto the city trains. Escalators in the subways sometimes have eyes, and when nobody is nearby, they stop until a person approaches. I thought my eyes were being tricked when the stairs suddenly started to move.
It is amazing that almost everyone speaks good English. Many shops have names in English. It is a blessing to be able to converse easily with strangers. A world language in this day and age of planetary consciousness is necessary, and by default seems to be English. People everywhere need to be able to communicate and not be isolated by language.
My friend Steffen told me there are more bridges in Berlin than in Venice, something I could hardly believe. In the bohemian neighborhoods, graffiti is everywhere, and I had to laugh when Steffen said the city gives “graffiti workshops.” Drinking in public is allowed, and a common sight on the street, not just at bars and restaurants.
I have been spending my days exploring, taking photos, painting, visiting with new friends, and writing. My situation is good, and the days before I leave for Paris on August 21 are flying by. I like being in a city that is busy reinventing itself; just like an artist!