I’m not sure what was more inspiring, the teeny weeny clothespins the French chef used to pin together the duck breast wrapped Foie gras or JCR’s sense of humor. Or maybe it was the treat we each took away from the meal; a big slab of rich chocolate, each impressed with a different painting surrounded by a golden gilded frame.
What’s wrong with me? The ART! The art. Of course, the inspiration was the art.
Over the weekend I attended an exclusive French food and wine pairing in the company of the French artist Jean Claude Roy. We gathered in the Grand Bohemian Gallery in downtown Orlando for a champagne reception with the artist and his expressionist paintings which enveloped walls of the Gallery in rich color. Many folks were crowded around the painter, asking him questions about his life’s work, the painting that he does En plein air every day.
“Every day?” I asked, when it was my turn to bend this painter’s ear. (And oh boy can I bend…) “Yes, every day.” he replied. “Some days, when the weather is bad, and the wind is whipping,” he explained “I have to take the painting off the easel and work on the ground, so that it does not blow away.”
“So, then” I followed up with “does that mean you have your paints with you on this US visit?” “No, I am on vacation.” He explained. “When I am on vacation, I enjoy only two things,” I waited for the answer in his pregnant pause… “EATING and meeting people.” Well then, he was in the right place.
Jean Claude made his way around to four tables of eight guests, sitting with each table and visiting for quite some time. When he was at our table, one of the guests asked him if he was familiar with a particular book. “No. I only read art books” he explained “books on art and about artists.” At this point I winked at my husband and said “that sounds familiar, doesn’t it?” JCR went on to explain “My wife, she reads the newspaper, she reads TWO newspapers. One for her and one for me.” I knew I was going to like this guy. Later in the evening my husband and his wife started talking about how to improve the functionality of JCR’s website. Ah, the support system of the artist, we could not live without it.
Jean Claude went on to tell us about how he has painted pretty much every day for the past 45 years. He’s currently represented by 16 galleries around the world (exclusively with Grand Bohemian in the US). He told us that the very FIRST gallery that ever took him on, he is still with to this day. “They had faith in me only three years after I started painting” he explained “they believed in me and so I have stayed with them.” I must say that the Grand Bohemian Gallery believed in me from the beginning of my career as well, and I am so very lucky to be in the company of established painters like JCR. I understood his loyalty.
JCR was very personable and funny, he was entertaining and once I started joking with him we were all laughing at our table. His wife explained to us that JCR never likes it when the conversation got too serious. I think he enjoyed our table. The food was so delicious that I teased him we could clean our plates spotless with the bread. To which he replied, “I’ll tell you a story. When I was young, and would eat a meal with my family, my grandfather made us clean our plate with the bread.” and then he explained, “We had to wipe the plate clean, so that we could then turn it over and have our dessert served on the back side of the plate.” How strange I thought, “Because, there was no dishwasher, and we had to keep the dishes to a minimum.” He flipped his plate over on the table and smiled at us. It seemed the story of eating a meal with his grandfather brought back some special memories for this artist.
And the teeny weeny clothespins? Well I asked my server if I could get a handful of them, clean ones without the duck bits. Jose was happy to oblige, returning with a handful of them, he smiled and said “Jean Claude asked for some as well.” I looked over at JCR and said “What will you do with them?” He said, “I will paint them!” “Not if I beat you to it!” I joked. “If you do, I will hang you from your feet with them!” he threatened. “When you are flying back to France, I will be gluing them down into a collage.” I teased “I WILL beat you to it.”
The Boheme’s Chef Laurent prepared an amazing French multi course meal (I lost track of just how many times they put different food and wines in front of us) which was out of this world. He modified my meal to meet flexitarian standards. I don’t eat duck liver, I won’t eat beef or veal, but I did eat the lobster, smoked salmon, a veggie medley, and of course, dessert. Laurent came over to check on me and to be sure I was happy with my modified selection just after he spoke a little of his native tongue with JCR and spoke about the menu that was inspired by his artwork in colors and flavors.
Jean Claude sold a few paintings, signed some autographs, and make all of us laugh. It was a great dinner. As for the clothespins, he could not hang me by my feet in them, because I had on fabulous shoes that would be pinned to nothing more than my Pinterest.
Art and Fashion. After all, that’s why I went to the dinner in the first place.!