|From the street. All cleaned up now.|
It's been a year now since I officially lived in Aix, after calling this my home for nearly two years. But I've been nearby still--in a village outside of Aix and now in Marseille. Thus, I'm back in town fairly often. But this week I'm staycationing here (which is really just a short way of saying that I'm staying in my friends' apartment while they're away, watering their plants, working as normal, but trying to read a little more than usual). And it's been lovely to live here again instead of just passing through for a few hours here and there.
|In the entrance hall, looking toward the|
Among my discoveries, some of them unpleasant (the bookstore on Place Richelme is a clothing store now? one of my Indian places has been transformed into something Italian or Spanish (I forget which)? and more...), has been the discovery that all that construction on Rue Joseph Cabassol has been replaced by long lines of people waiting to enter the new arts center. It's been unveiled!
And even better? I'm now 2 for 2 in testing out the policy many museums here have of letting journalists enter for free. I tried it for the first time in June at the Musée Regards de Provence in Marseille and have decided it's a very smart policy.
So, courtesy of that policy, come along with me on today's wanderings through the Caumont Centre d'Art, which was restored and is run by a group called Culturespaces. The center opened in May of this year in a former private mansion that was built in the 1700s. I feel a little like it's more "mine" than most museums since I saw it (from the outside, anyway) before it was made beautiful again. Knowing how new it is is a marker showing that I've lived some life in this corner of the world now. I've been here long enough to know which cultural venues are new and which ones predate 2012. That's something.
|A fancy 18th-century bedroom, with a nice digital tour guide.|
Beyond all that, the Hôtel de Caumont will host major temporary art exhibitions. This first exhibit inside the lovely mansion is comprised of the paintings of Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal), an 18th-century Venetian painter. Check out this link to enjoy a virtual version of the exhibit and learn a little about Canaletto's impressive oeuvre.
But Canaletto's isn't the only art on feature. Until November 1, the main courtyard features the ethereal photographic work of contemporary (he's barely older than me) French artist Laurent Chéhère. The works are derived from his series "Flying Houses." To celebrate Caumont Centre's grand opening, Culturespaces commissioned Chéhère "to design an illustration announcing the venue's opening following its complete restoration," per a press release.
At the end of the exhibition, signs directed guests to descend from the third floor via back stairs, where at each landing, there was a collection of photographs from the restoration of the building. It was a great way to wrap up the tour, and I'm so glad they chronicled the process of bringing the house back to its former glory. You can see those photos and more details of the restoration process here on the centre's website.