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On Sunday and again on Monday Andy and I spent most of the day wandering around Belleville, visiting art studios and galleries during the four-day Belleville Open Studios, which takes place each year around the end of May. I had enjoyed this event in 2011 and 2015, though I had never engaged with it as deeply as we did this year.

On Sunday after brunch we walked over to Belleville, getting a map at the first studio we noticed (by its balloons), then wending our way up to the Ateliers d’Artistes de Belleville (AAB) gallery at 1, rue Francis Picabia (M° Couronnes). At the main gallery we looked at samples by each artist and circled the studios we wanted to visit. We had to do this to organize our walk since over one hundred locations are listed, several showing work by half a dozen artists! But we also looked in on all the studios along our route, whether circled or not; we realized that we enjoyed the ones we hadn’t circled about as much as the ones we had, but it was still worth using the selected studios to organize our path.

It’s hard to pick favorites among so many interesting artists, but here are a few that one or both of us really liked:

I liked several witty and/or trenchant sculptures by João Ferreira, in a group show in the Crypte de l’Eglise Notre Dame de la Croix, which was also outstanding in 2015.

One of several sculptures by João Ferreira

I really liked the realistic Paris paintings of Jean-Christophe Adenis. So much that I would have purchased his painting from the main gallery for 45 euros if it hadn’t already sold. But when we caught up with him in person he asked 200 euros for other works of the same size. Not unreasonable, but I wasn’t quite prepared to spend that much (even though I did the next day for a cute three-dimensional work from another artist).

Small paintings by Jean-Christophe Adenis

Andy and I both liked the studio of Sophie Herszkowicz. I may actually go back and buy one of her smaller paintings.

Paintings by Sophie Herszkowicz of her studio

Our favorite, however, was the show of kinetic artwork by Laurent Debraux at Galerie Eko Sato. This still picture gives only an idea of the variety:

Kinetic sculptures by Laurent Debraux at Galerie Eko Sato

This video gives you a somewhat better idea of this highly recommended exhibition:

Here’s the link to my full photo set, starting with some vivid Belleville street art we saw along the way, and including additional works by most of the artists mentioned: https://photos.app.goo.gl/qtwx5ec67DYJA1Aw2

We ended up getting to nearly all of the circled galleries before running out of time and energy.  The project was a very satisfying way to start Andy’s visit. Not only did we see a lot of fascinating art (diluted but not obscured by the inevitable mediocre stuff), but we explored a lively and non-touristy quartier populaire, got to see the insides of many artist studios and apartments, and met some nice and interesting people. It may in fact be the most-non-touristy beginning to any of my guest visits!

Update: Here’s a photo set that includes more Belleville Art: Art of Belleville, Paris

Mot du jour: quartier populaire. Lisa explained earlier in my stay that this means a neighborhood of down to earth folks, i.e. workers, artists, unemployed people and other not-rich citizens. Like Belleville!