I’m one of the lucky ones who got to visit Nancy while she was painting in Paris. Not that it took a lot of arm twisting.
We had received a couple of emails from her, with a few snippets of her life in Paris. Photos of her painting shirt hanging to dry on the window. Glimpses of the Eiffel tower that dominated the view from her garret. Pictures of paintings hanging on stairs to dry. Labels from wine bottles enjoyed the night before. Paintings of elegant Parisiennes, strolling the streets. And most of all, fresh flowers, everywhere.
We always like to visit our artists’ studios (especially the ones in France!) and we always like to see what inspires them in their surroundings. And it’s especially important when an artist is preparing for an exhibit as Nancy has been for her upcoming show, Franke, Foltz & Friends – which opens this Thursday, at Huff Harrington Fine Art. So visiting her in France was a pretty easy argument to make, given the prep work needed for a show (and the fact that Nancy’s month long sojourn in Paris overlapped with the best antiques market in France!).
Nancy and Michael were lucky to be staying in what we Huffingtons call our favorite hood, just steps away from the famous Rue Cler, which is dotted with fabulous flower markets and loaded with charming little restaurants and purveyors of fine foods and chocolates. So we knew that there was no shortage of inspiration, in both the floral and food categories. But we really had to laugh when Nancy published an adorable blog about her love of butter, and how butter was infusing everything she did and thought about, including her painting style! Doesn’t every discussion in France eventually turn to food?
The food, the wine bottles, the flowers, the view, the paintings stacked up on the floor (especially the one wedged between the stairs, which I was just dying to see in person), combined with Nancy’s effervescent personality (and her adorable hubby’s too) were too much to resist … and I couldn’t have been happier to come up with a slew of excuses to justify a visit.
Of course, seeing Nancy in Paris is kind of like seeing Pavarotti at La Scala. She just belongs and thrives there! Surrounded by museums filled to the brim with favorite artists, and every site on every street corner oozing with inspiration, not to mention the daily interactions and politesses with all the local merchants in her almost fluent French and the long three hour dinners in divine restaurants and the six mile walks every day — what’s not to love, especially for an artist? It was a double treat for me to be there, since I got to see Paris through her ever-enthusiastic, well curated lens.
And then of course, as the work started to pour in, some of it still dripping with paint and oozing with butter, we were all jumping up and down with excitement. Nancy has a magical touch, which has gotten lighter and looser over the years, but still manages to evoke the warmth and essence and emotion of every subject she paints. Combine that with her warmly diffused palette, her perfectly balanced compositions captured in just the right light, and her experienced editing skill which enables her to pull away from the painting at just the right moment, leaving you to complete the details in your head so that the interpretation is that much more personal … And there you have it: The je ne sais quoi Nancy Franke magic, that has us all enthralled.
I think for Nancy, the Paris experience was the perfect icing on the cake, adding to her explosion of senses (not to mention food metaphors!). And those of us who get to see the work she has prepared for her upcoming show will get to share in the experience, almost as she did. Bravo, Mme! Franke in France was a sweet success and we can’t wait for your show to open on Thursday … and to embrace the fruits of your labor. With butter!