(I don’t paint what I see, I paint what I feel.) — Pablo Picasso
On ne pense que par image. Si tu veux être philosophe, écris des romans.
(We only think by picture. If you want to be a philosopher, write novels.) — Albert Camus
Hi, I’m C E Hunt. I like to write, paint and inspire.
This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. My goal is to blog about aspects of my writing or art and places about which I have written or interest me. Please elect to follow this blog, so you’ll know when I post new content. Thanks for visiting.
In my novel, A Moveable Marfa, my character Steve has an in depth conversation with a French woman on the definition of wealth and impacts of technology.
It’s a profound question.
When this sign was first installed, whether it was here or nearby, one can imagine the excitement of this development on the outskirts of Pesmes, France. A real connection to the outside world! Of course, the installation of a phone booth in this village was just the beginning of a dramatic transformation of humans’ relationship to information and in a real sense, wealth.
Perhaps another way to pose this question would be, “Has technology adversely affected our wealth? Does it distract us from pursuing our real wealth? How many times have you spent an hour or so on the internet and marveled at how little you grew that hour, how little you made “your habitat” better? Did you become wealthier during that spell?
That of course depends on your definition of wealth.
In Chapter 37 of A Moveable Marfa, Steve and his French friend share a bottle of wine attempting to define wealth. The nexus of American notions of wealth with his friend’s French notions makes for a stimulating conversation. I won’t spoil it, but money is certainly not at the forefront in the final analysis.
Below are some images that in my eyes evoke elements of wealth…
Beautiful scenery, great books, art, history, quality brews, good food …
But some of the most important aspects of true wealth can’t be fully captured in a photograph — love, caring, a good friend, health, spirit, spiritual maturity, unity, etc.
Steve and his friend do fair job tackling what is wealth over that bottle of wine in a small Moroccan restaurant in Sommières, France. Read chapter 37 in A Moveable Marfa if you want to “eavesdrop” on their conversation.
In memoriam of George Floyd 1974-2020.
Like me, he was a native of Houston. I played sports against his high school, Jack Yates Senior High School. The last picture is a picture of George catching a touchdown pass while at Yates. I didn’t know George, but I feel very connected to him somehow and at the risk of stating the obvious, feel these things cannot be acceptable at all in our society. Things must change now. My sympathies to his family and fiancée. (Love, caring and unity are all forms of wealth. In this department, we have so much to do in the United States.)
With much of the longstanding buzz about the art scene in Marfa, one doesn’t hear as much about the traditional, but very important, aspects of the city.
Though mostly a bit behind the scenes, St, Mary’s Catholic Church in Marfa plays an important role in the early part of my novel, A Moveable Marfa. A very important scene takes place in front of the Statue of the Blessed Virgin inside the church. Mass is celebrated most days in the active parish, and the church contributes greatly of the fabric of the more traditional aspects of the city. At times the avant-garde expressions of the artistic community of Marfa creates tension with the more traditional aspects of the community. Other times, they complement each other. Regardless, it is an important influence to the overall cultural landscape of the city and nearby region.
The roots of Catholicism run deep in the area.
Though Presidio County had been inhabited by indigenous tribes for thousand of years, Catholicism started to take root in the region in the 1500s with the arrival of Spanish expeditions across the region. The first Spaniards likely came to area in 1535. Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and his three companions stopped at the Native American pueblo, placed a cross on the mountainside and called the village La Junta de las Cruces (at a site south of modern day Marfa near the modern-day City of Presidio). The history of St. Mary’s Parish dates to 1875 when Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission was established in Marfa in a small building west of the present town limits.
More background on St. Mary’s Catholic Church
In 1889 the population of Marfa and the surrounding area became great enough that Our Lady of Guadalupe was established as a parish. As a parish, Marfa gained its own resident priest.
The cornerstone of the present day building is dated 1889. However, the people ran out of funds and building was delayed for a time. During this time, services were held in a building which had been a wool storehouse. When funds again became available, the church was finished.
From the time the parish was established in 1889 with one priest until 1912 when there were four priests, there was no rectory. The priests lived in the back rooms of the church building. A rectory was finally built in 1912.
At one time, Marfa actually had two Catholic churches. In 1917 a second church, Sacred Heart Church, was built at the northwest corner of Highland Ave. and San Antonio St. It was dedicated on December 27, 1917. That same year Our Lady of Guadalupe Church was enlarged and remodeled. In 1945, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church was again enlarged. The name of the Church was changed to St. Mary’s.
In 1959, St. Mary’s Church and Sacred Heart Church were made one and the Sacred Heart property was sold. St. Mary’s was again enlarged. Furnishings and materials from the Sacred Heart Church, including adobe bricks and the stained glass windows, were used to renovate and beautify St. Mary’s Church. (Primary Source: https://churchmarfa.blogspot.com/)
Per a 1960’s history of the church, the church is, like many historic Marfa structures, constructed of adobe blocks. The exterior walls are reported to be three feet thick. Like Saint Mary’s and its history, this preponderance of adobe architecture is just another special aspect of the City of Marfa.
In A Moveable Marfa, Steve rents a gîte on an old farm not far from Calvisson and Sommières in Languedoc (about 22 km from Nîmes). He wants to get away from Paris and his curious group of friends there and write. The area around the gîte is a beautiful area featuring many small villages, vineyards and olive groves.
Here is the patio where Steve writes his “Great American novel” and philosophizes with Brites well into the wee hours of the morning.
Here is the front of Steve’s gîte. Small but quite welcoming and perfect for his writing.
Villevielle, next to Sommières, has an olive cooperative where locals can bring their olives to be pressed for oil. Steve and his Brazilian friend, Brites, visit it in the book.
I’ll share more on Sommières in the future. It plays a key role in the book.
I myself was fortunate enough to visit the cooperative “one day” and had a wonderful chat with Jean François Thurmond, the manager. It was the first time I had the opportunity to do an olive oil tasting. Jean was a very nice chap. I was learning French at the time, and he somehow understood me rather well. For that, I had an instant admiration for him.
Steve’s art gallery is introduced early on in A Moveable Marfa, page 7 to be exact. I thought it might be interesting to give the reader a little insight into my inspiration for it to be an important venue in the story.
It was actually back in 2006-2008 when I first started hanging out in Marfa to write the Marfa part of the story. There was this oddly shaped building near the railroad tracks on S. Austin St. that caught my eye. I decided over time that this would be one of the buildings that Uncle Clive would leave Steve. In the novel, Steve lived on Austin Street on the other side of the tracks.
Now, of course, this building is known as the Crowley Theater, a cultural arts center, but in 2007, I saw the Galería del Sol. A place where Steve would grow in his relationship with Stacy and Pilar and meet the formidable “Paco.” Some of these characters are loosely inspired by real people, but for legal reasons, I won’t say which characters are based on real people and which ones are purely fictitious. This is true of many of the characters in the book in Marfa and France. Anyway, I saw the gallery being full of interesting art with maybe a studio or two in the back.
To give you an idea of the overall setting, this cool building sits across the tracks from the Crowley Theater today.
New Orleans has a very different personality by night. Far from Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, a somber, dignified city awaits, reflecting an interesting blend of old and new. Many of the buildings of the Warehouse District and Central Business District were built throughout the 1800s. Many were added in the 1900s and some are very new, but often at least somewhat sympathetic to their surroundings.
Sadly, many tourist never see much of this side of New Orleans. Maybe because of the quiet and lack of crowds, one can better get a real sense of place.
Don’t forget to peer inside places as well.
Art galleries evoke a strange loneliness late at night.
My mind races thinking about writing a short story about a mysterious character slowly walking down the rain soaked street pictured below!
Spend some time across this great city. Inspiration is everywhere.
A couple of scenes take place inside this unusual bar near Jardin de Luxembourg. This bar has pretty much been miraculously preserved since 1955. Originally started by a dude from Spain named Mariano, it’d be hard to find a more authentic, vintage “dive” experience in Paris than this place which can hold about three dozen people. It is kind of like a musty, “Belle Epoque” cave covered with a mixture of Belle Epoque posters and a few touches from the 1970s, especially its 1970’s era juke box.
In A Moveable Marfa, Monique sat in the bench, second from the right, and watches Steve. You’ll have to read the book to find out what comes of this. I wrote this section of the book actually sitting where Steve sat on a rainy night a few years ago. I tried to capture the feel of this special place.
I recommend you check out the 10 Bar if you find yourself in Paris. The sangria is very good and the setting will stick with you for a long time.
Don’t let the rustic exterior deter you! At 10 rue de l’Odéon,
Music can be a powerful inspiration. For me at least, it’s important to carefully select a “soundscape” when writing or painting. I sometimes find the music I am listening to guiding, or at least coloring, where I go with my project. It can definitely give me energy and either lift (or lower) my spirits. I have many, almost “curated” playlists depending on the mood I want to set–
Jazz (name of the playlist is “Cocktails on a rainy night in 1969.” Don’t ask me why. I’m a writer maybe?)
Tonight I noticed a sculpture I had seen countless times, but this time was different, very different. In the “neutral ground” as New Orleanians like to call a median, there she was, dancing away. I thought she was supposed to be a gymnast, but tonight on this cool evening in the Crescent City, she was dancing beneath the palms.
I made my way to the neutral ground and sought to capture her from every direction.
She was a thing of beauty, and the palm fronds gently swaying in the night breezes only added to the choreography.
I hope you can see her dance sometime. You could say she performs nightly…
Note on the Artist: Given my interest in Art, Mexico and History, I find Enrique Alferez intriguing as well as inspiring. He was the son of a Mexican artist and spent part of his early life in the army of Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution before coming to the United States. He studied art in Chicago in the 1920s, then moved to New Orleans in 1929, where he lived until his death in 1999. His sculptures and reliefs adorn many parks, buildings, and landmarks in New Orleans and throughout South Louisiana, including the wonderful Helis Foundation Enrique Alférez Sculpture Garden.
A bar in Saint-Côme-et-Maruéjols, a village of about 700 in southern France, plays a pretty important role in A Moveable Marfa. At the Bar Tabac L’Alambic, Steve meets a most intriguing woman named Pauline Ferrand. Here’s a short excerpt–
“To overcome loneliness, I occasionally rode my bike into the nearby Saint-Côme-et-Maruéjols in the evening and had a beer at the Bar L’Alambic. It was a little like a bar, but they sold a few food items and locally baked breads. They also sold some deli sandwiches on the freshest baguettes. The ham, croissant and butter sandwich was so good. I’m sure all the ingredients were from local farms or butchers. But the small shop mostly sold cigarettes, lotto tickets and beer—primarily Kronenbourg and 1614, or seize for short. Bar L’Alambic was a clean place that had a family feel to it. Creamy, yellow walls were covered with a few old black-and-white photos of soccer matches from an earlier era. François, the bartender, and his wife, Anaëlle, were pleasant, and always patient with my French. …
On certain nights, the bar would be filled with guys watching a Ligue Un or rugby match. Marseille was the local favorite soccer team, so it was all about rugby and soccer for the menfolk here. For an American, I thought I was really into soccer, but by French standards, I was ignorantly indifferent. It was almost a cult more than a sport. I learned several additional curse words watching games on TV in the café to complete that part of my education in French. …
It was there I met Pauline, who was a local, sort of. She lived in nearby Sommières and did contract work at the training center. I welcomed female attention; actually, I welcomed almost any attention. I’d been in southern France for over a week now and talked, really talked, to no one except Emil and Father Mike, a local priest, whom I befriended at the boulangerie, the bakery, in town.” — A Moveable Marfa, p. 185-186
You’ll have to read the book to see what happens next.