JOURNAL

MY NEW HOUSE IN FRANCE / MA NOUVELLE MAISON EN FRANCE

Let me tell you about my new house in France. I'm on my way there now!                                                                 + But I have been on my way there for over 30 years...

Quote by Gregory Kramer collaged on top of a new work on silk

I want you to know that anything is possible. My husband Harvey and I planted a very small seed of this dream many, many years ago, and it has finally bloomed. France has always spoken to both of us. We love the light, the language, the culture, the rolling hills of the countryside and the bustle of the cities. I especially am drawn to the deep love of art as a part of life. Not only am I going to France for six months to live and make work in a modest, old, mysterious home in a small, sleepy hamlet, but I also have an exhibition nearby that I have been madly preparing for. My dreams are coming true!

I want to share with you a little bit about this journey, because I'm not a "second home" kind of person. I raised my family in a homemade home in the woods outside of Athens, Georgia. Harvey and I were fortunate to buy property before the real estate boom in Athens, and we lived extremely modestly as we raised our children. Who needs a television when nature is right outside every window? I am fortunate to not have my values based on material culture as much as the culture that living life as our best selves gives us. A life full of love and leaky roofs and deer-scavenged gardens and the language of the forest. So, how did I buy a home in France? It sounds very complicated to some, but it's really about patience, commitment, and perseverance. Our little house in the woods in the US afforded us the saving of pennies, and the land we own is vast. We were able to recently sell a small parcel, using an incredible real estate agent (and an even more incredible artist!) named Sean Dunn, and we happily and fortunately sold part of our land to a young family with similar interests as we held when we started our homestead. 

So, back to the question... how to buy a house in France? You look and look for years. You travel all around the countryside. You find a small place that feels like you belong. You go back and you visit and you make friends. You find a house that feels right, that's ready to live in but not completely renovated. I like it when homes are real, strong, and full of stories. It's not covered in coats of paint, there is nothing fancy about it. We paid cash for our home, that's how unbelievably affordable it was. It's perfect. 

Today -- right now, in fact -- I am on a plane to live in France. Our son Sam and our lovely dog will hold down the homestead outside of Athens. I will set up my studio in the old barn that is part of the property, connected to the home. I like to think about everything that came there before me, and I wonder how it will influence my work. I look forward to sharing this journey with you. 

This is our opportunity to shine. It is our opportunity to immerse ourselves in a place that we love. It is our opportunity to live the adventure we dreamt up so many years ago. Thanks so much for joining us!

A painting about a dream... read more about this new work and what inspired in on instagram, where I'll be posting regularly. 

Today. Leaving our home in Georgia (with Sam) for our new home in France! (Click to view larger) L-R: René, Sam, Harvey

The full moon waving us away

On the plane to France, 20:30, 12 April 2017

The best studio intern ever! Henry is the babe of my amazing studio assistant  Jess . Check out her studio  HERE ! And more Henry is  h  ere  :)

The best studio intern ever! Henry is the babe of my amazing studio assistant Jess. Check out her studio HERE! And more Henry is here :)

Gratitude, Thanksgivings, & Plans for the New Year

I love the New Year.

I love New Beginnings.

I love the anticipation of something marvelous just around the corner, and I love setting goals for the new year. 

In 2017, my goals include entering a number of juried shows, both here and abroad. I plan to contact art galleries with the intention of finding one to represent my art. I intend to make art all year long, while keeping a schedule and finding a work/life balance that allows me to do what I love and minimize stress. And I intend to become financially stable as an artist, selling enough art to keep buying supplies for my new work – and to fund travel, of course. 

As much as I love looking ahead, I also love looking back: reflecting on the year that has ended and taking stock of what worked, what didn’t, and what happened in my family, my art, and my relationship to the world. Reflecting allows me to express gratitude for all that I have: my family, my friends, my health, and the ability to share my art with the world. I am grateful for my team, those who support me and help me pull together the many strands of the life and career I am trying to create. I am grateful to live in a beautiful house in a beautiful place, and to call the woods my home. And I am grateful and excited to have purchased a modest house in rural France that will become a satellite home and studio for Harvey and I. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - >

So, you may ask: 
 What HAVE I been doing all year? 

This, my dear reader, is my artistic year in review:

MUSEUM PERMANENT COLLECTION

1a+b. My art is now in the permanent collection of the Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA
       

EXHIBITS, AUCTIONS, FUNDRAISERS, & RECEPTIONS

Clockwise L-R                                                                                                                                                            2. The year-long exhibit of Discovering the Chattahoochee Valley: Silk Paintings by René Shoemaker continued through July 2017 at the Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA                                                                                         3. Columbus Museum Discovering the Chattahoochee Valley closing party
4. Unveiling party at a collector’s home celebrating her acquisition of work from the Columbus Museum exhibit
5. Exhibited prints on paper in New York City at Grand Central Terminal, NYC, and Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY
6. Invited to exhibit at the 10x10 Art for Education exhibit and fundraiser at the Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA       7. Exhibited in the Portrait exhibit at KA Artist Shop Gallery, Athens, GA
8. Invited to exhibit at The Cultural Landscape Foundation annual fundraiser in New Orleans, LA
9. Invited to exhibit at the All About Art fundraiser for the Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA

 

SALES, COMMISSIONS, & SPECIAL ORDERS

Clockwise L-R                                                                                                                                                         
10. Large Columbus silk paintings purchased by collector and patron                                                                          
11. Holiday cards commissioned by Columbus resident
12. Nano, a bird portrait commissioned by his human "grandmum"                                                                          
13. A Double Bass instrument portrait created for a Professor of Double Bass and his special family

 

RETAIL LOCATIONS

Clockwise L-R                                                                 
14. Columbus Museum gift shop, Columbus, GA
15. Aurum Studios, Athens, GA                                                 
16. Avid Bookstore, Athens, GA                                               
17. KA Artist Shop, Athens, GA
18. Jittery Joe’s Coffeeshop in 5 Points, Athens, GA
19. Jittery Joe’s Roasters, Athens, GA
20. Treehouse Kid & Craft Handmade Artist Market, Athens, GA                 
and always: reneshoemaker.com/shop

 

PUBLICATIONS

Clockwise L-R                                                                                                                                                           21. Compendium of Craft & Creativity included my artwork with an interview, Uppercase Publishers, Calgary, Canada
22a+b. Published art review of Scott Pope exhibit, Flagpole Magazine, Athens, GA; with the artist Scott Pope
23. Published blog posts all year, the most popular being about travel and adventures, i.e. Brooklyn Bound!Bonjour de France!, Why I Love France, Part II, and A Sense of Place: The Completions of a Museum Exhibition

 

TEACHING, ARTIST TALKS, AND PRESENTATIONS

Clockwise L-R
24. Featured artist at Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance for High Museum members, Atlanta, GA
25. Reading at Avid Bookshop from Compendium of Craft & Creativity, Athens, GA
26a. Professor Spooner, host of my visiting artist lecture at the University of Georgia’s College of Environment & Design: “Ways of Seeing”    
26b+c. Me lecturing and an image from the presentation
27. Taught Silk-Painting Workshops at the Columbus Museum, GA   
28. Taught quarterly Silk-Painting Workshops at the KA Artist Shop
29. Taught private Silk-Painting classes
30 (left). Taught Silk-Painting at the University of Georgia Lamar Dodd School of Art, Athens, GA            

GATHERING OPPORTUNITIES

31. Co-founded a new hand-sewing club                                                                                                             
32. Joined a new artist studio round-robin information exchanging club        

 

OTHER CREATIVE ENDEAVORS

33. Designed and hand-painted a silk dress, delivered to a patron in Paris
34. Created a beautiful hardcopy portfolio in French (with help from my friends) 

 

Opportunities for Which I Applied But Was Not Selected

35. Cité Internationale des Arts Residency in Paris, France

36. Lyndon House 41st Annual Juried Exhibit, Athens, GA

37. World of Threads Festival, Toronto, Canada

TRAVEL

Clockwise L-R   
38. New York City, NY
39. Asheville, NC
40. Paris, France
41. Felletin, Limousin, France

 

UPCOMING EXHIBITS

42. Scheduled exhibit in Felletin, France - Summer 2017                                                                                           43. Scheduled exhibit at a museum in Mississippi, USA - Summer 2019

 

It’s been a great year, but this was only the beginning! Stay tuned for more events and news. 

Wishing you a prosperous, creative, and healthy New Year, 

 

 

 

 

Why I Love France, Part II

The last time I posted here I was in France. Now I am safely at home in rural Georgia - dreaming of rural France.

Why do I love France? Rather than tell you, I will show you. Here are additional photos* of my personal impressions of France. Let me know what you think -- comment below or contact me. I hope you enjoy my survey!! 

* see my last blog post if you missed the earlier posts about traveling in France. 

Why I Love France, Part I

My Parisian friend Etienne asked me a few years ago, “Why France?” What is it you like about France, that you come here so often and want to spend even more time here? What is it about France—especially Paris—that interests you? Why is it so important for you to exhibit your artwork here in France?

I thought it was a good question. I reflected on my answer for about 24 hours, then went back to Etienne and replied:

“The aesthetics in France speak to the aesthetics of my soul.”

He then said he understood.

And for you, dear friend, rather than share more words about what this place means to me, I will share photos that I hope will convey—more profoundly than words—why I want to spend more time in this beautiful place.

Merci beacoup, et à bientôt!

-René

What matters is that I am here.

It doesn't matter if I almost missed my train because I was blissfully writing postcards in the waiting room of Gare Austerlitz-

     What matters is that I am here.

It doesn't matter if I take a wrong turn when I am walking somewhere and get fabulously lost-

     What matters is that I am here.

It doesn't matter if I ask for "le billet" (the ticket) 
rather than "l'addition" (the bill) at the end of a meal -


     What matters is that I am here.

It doesn't matter if I sleep too long on day 2 but not long enough on day 3-

     What matters is that I am here.

It doesn't matter if I ask for "de l'eau" (some water) rather than "d'eau" (a [glass of]  water)-

     What matters is that I am here.

I am over feeling embarrassed or insecure in this foreign country because I don't  know the language well and am sometimes unsure of the customs-

     What matters is that I am here.

I've always wanted to avoid looking like a tourist, I've wanted to fit in, and not be noticed by the people who live there, but I just don't think that's possible anymore-

     What matters is that I am here.

France calls me, and I respond. I go to her. 

     And all that matters is that I am here. 

 

Working with my "team" in Paris

Christine+Laure-FirstDay-2014  

November 7, 2014. I AM SO HAPPY TO BE IN PARIS!! Met my "team" tonight - Christina Chirouze Montenegro & Laure Jubert. We looked over my art, decided how to hang it, and discussed our philosophies on art and life.

Christina & Laure loved their t-shirts I brought for them. I can tell that these two talented women are going to make great things happen!

Rene+ChristinaShoppingForFrames

November 8, 2014. Out shopping for picture frames, and having a coffee (of course!) at café Loustic in the Marais - where Laure works during the day. Event documented below -  with the inimitable Christina Chirouze Montenegro!

I'm exploring France and calling it research - how awesome is that?  What artwork will come from my current experiences? In just a few days we'll be celebrating the opening of my first exhibit in Paris!

 

 

 

Un Cafe, s'il vous plait

A Quiet Visit to a Café

Shoemaker-Kate+BenCafeotheque-Paris Today, a year after my last visit, I quietly returned to La Caféothèque de Paris. I didn't let anyone know I was coming. I wanted to see this magical place again by myself: explore the rooms, study the walls, feel the space, and find out whether the coffee really is as good as I remembered.

It is.

The espresso I had today was full of body and smooth as silk. No acid, no bitterness; just pure, gentle coffee flavor. It really is the best coffee I have ever had.

The space is also as wonderful as I remembered. It has four connected rooms for enjoying your beverage, each with its own personality. Today I sat in the "Green Room," a setting with rustic wooden tables and plants - including coffee - growing everywhere. The cafe was pleasantly busy; there was a buzz of soft conversation from some of the patrons, while others read or spent time with their work before them.

As I sipped my espresso, I watched the activity on the city streets through the large windows overlooking the Seine and Île Saint-Louis. I watched the cycles, the motos, the little Fiats and Peugeots go by, as well as the pedestrians: the office workers, students, and tourists. The streets were alive, and all who passed by looked as though they were enjoying the day as much as I was.

***
I'm exploring France and calling it research. What artwork will come from my current experiences?  In just another week we'll be celebrating the opening of my first exhibit in Paris!

 

LaCafeotheque-StealthVisit3-MC

Discovering Chartres

StAignanChurch_ChartresFrance-WP We discovered St Aignan Church on the way up the hill from the Auberge de Jeunesse, spending quite a bit of time in there. The patterns of the chairs caught my eye, along with this section cut into the wall. What stories could be told there?

On the old market square in Chartres, where they now sell flowers, we had our first coffee and hot chocolate. A glass of water was 20 centimes extra, but it was chilled. On that first night, from the Auberge, we could see the light from the setting sun hitting the clouds and lighting up the sky around the cathedral. C'était superbe.

The café, 'La Chocolaterie', was on the corner with umbrellas covering the tables, and we ducked under them as it started to rain. It was the middle of the week, and it was quiet in the town.

I love looking at the doors & windows, the patterns they create, and the street corners with the irregular architecture that is older than my country has been in existence. Just about everywhere I look I see inspiration for my art.

***

I'm exploring France and calling it research. What artwork will come from my current experiences?  In just a few weeks we'll be celebrating the opening of my first exhibit in Paris!

Doors & Windows

You may know that my first love, even before coffee and the café experience, was Doors & Windows. I've always been intrigued by the patterns of windows on buildings, by the patterns of the window panes, by the relationship of the door to the rest of the façade, and by the decoration on the door itself. Heaven! Here are a few of the patterns I've seen since we landed in France: image-1

image-3

image-5

image-12

image-16

image-19

image

I love the way this last set of doors is on a slanted street, and the way that teeny door on the left makes me want to open it and see what's inside!

 

Beyond Excited!

La Table a la Cafeotheque de Paris, 4th

I am beyond excited

about my upcoming art show

in Paris!

 

I've been trying to remain calm and stay focused on my work, but now that the time for departure is near (October 14th), I find myself dancing in my shoes without moving my feet. (Did I really just make up that saying? - But, it's the way I feel!)

There is a Facebook Page for the exhibit & reception created by the venue; the reception will be held November 12, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. Please share the news with your friends who might be able to attend; I'm sad that my U.S. friends won't be able to be there with me, but I am certainly intending to make new friends while I am in Paris. I love art receptions!

I've been working hard printing all new beautifully colored prints for this exhibit, and I'm very happy with the results. I will have all the new café prints uploaded to my website before I leave, so you can see the results of this labor of love.

The image, above, is of the café table at La Caféothèque in Paris. Their coffee is superb! You can see the bag of coffee beans I bought and the delicious latte I was drinking when I made this sketch. Très fantastique!

Un café, s'il vous plaît 

Lino prints of the café experience by René Shoemaker La Caféothèque de Paris 52, Rue de l'Hotel de Ville Paris, France November 12, 2014 - January 7, 2015 Reception: Tuesday, Nov 12, 6:30 pm

Do You Love to Travel?

Cafe Cassette, Paris, France  

Travel is a gift - do you feel the same way?

To explore a new place; even if it's in familiar territory.

To sit in the sun on a street you've never been to before.

To notice that the trees you are seeing on the horizon are totally unlike the ones you pass on your way to work every day.

To smell unrecognized spices wafting from a restaurant on a crowded city street.

To recognize the hum of conversation all around you, but maybe not all the words.

To sit at a quiet café on the corner of Rue Cassette & Rue de Rennes

                                                                                                            in Paris, France.

  ******

My cafe' prints and I are traveling to France soon for their exhibit starting November 10, 2014 at La Caféothèque in Paris. A selection of the prints are currently on exhibit at The Grit, in Athens, Georgia through October 5 for you to enjoy now.