Wednesday, April 05, 2006

écrit sans fin

écrit sans fin
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Was relatively well behaved at this weekend’s annual poster show at the Chicago Cultural Center, backing away from the gi-normous $2,400 Hervé Morvan that I wanted to take home and opting for a much more demure, much more affordable litho by Raymond Savignac for an old Reynolds pen ad. The tagline reads: “Écrit sans fin” Write without end. I can live with that.

The woman who sold it to me was a treasure. Her shop’s in Paris, but I could swear she sounded just like a Brooklyn girl, so I asked her if she was an ex-pat. She said “I suppose so, but I was born an American, and I’ll die an American.” Turns out she and her husband moved to France 40 years ago because they were both in the theatre and “the discrimination here was just so bad – but in Paris, they loved us.” As soon as she said that I realized she was African-American; before that moment I thought vaguely that she reminded of my grandmother, who has always reminded me of Lena Horne (it's that silver screen diva thing) and so maybe somewhere I registered her heritage – as a small tile within a much larger mosaic of this remarkable woman who was unfolding before me.

And it struck me that something that mattered so little to the encounter we were having just then, mattered enough 40 years ago that it drove her out of the country.

Racism is another one of those things that as a white girl in a white world I can never quite get my arms around; it leaves me angry and frustrated to try. It grieved me to meet someone who loves America and couldn’t live here because America didn’t love her. I want to think that it’s different today – but is it? There’s too much bad news that would seem to indicate otherwise. And I’m too far removed, by accident of my own skin tone, to ever really know what other people go through.

Regrettably that's one more big problem that I can’t solve in a hurry -- but I *can* recommend a great poster shop in Paris. I've never been there, but I’m a big fan of the proprietress. No web site, no email, this girl’s old school – you’ll just have to stop by:
Maria Carmen Salis
The Tree of Art
68, rue Georges Lardennois
75019 Paris


patrick said...

Interesting story and a fabulous litho! How was the rest of the exhibit? I totally need to get into the loop on these things.

suttonhoo said...

It was excellent -- sorry you missed it -- unfortunately it was poorly advertised (ironic, for a poster show) -- I found it only because I was in Paris a few years ago, in a vintage poster shop, and they mentioned it, so I Google for it once in awhile. I got lucky and found a reference to the show on a exhibitor's site -- but never did find a site for the show itself. They may have advertised in print but I missed it.

enyasi said...

"small tile within a much larger mosaic of this remarkable woman"

I love this phrasing... The fact that you see race as just one part of a person is a testament to your ability to see people as people and not categories.

As an African-American woman, I am sorry to say that racism is still alive and well. Except now it has grown to include nationalities, sexual orientation, beliefs and religion... just to name a few.

People whom I speak to on the phone or online often treat me differently when the see me in person... Talk about hurting... I often wonder exactly what they see and what they are thinking to make their formerly warm tones... stiff and guarded.

One thing I am quite happy with these days is the large multitude of “other"... By that I mean the millions of people of multiracial heritage who would check other on those limiting forms. This melding of races not surprisingly results in some of the most beautiful human beings I have ever seen... it gives me hope that one day.. The question will not be "what" are you? (in regards to your race) but "who" are you? (in regards to your heart)....
Blog on…

litwit said...

Excellent find! But, um, don't you perhaps know a short girl who might like this lithograph even more than you do? ;-) Damn Cincinnti road trips!

suttonhoo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bonita said...

Bonita said....

It was interesting to me that when I lived in Paris (1995-1996) there was incredible racism expressed against people from other countries that now live mostly in the suburbs of Paris. Many of these folks tend to be younger, feel there are not opportunities for them and are from African countries. They regularly express their rage towards the dominant French culture by rioting mostly in the outlying suburbs of big cities. African Americans Ex-pats do not experience this and are left alone for the most part.

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