My Paris

“Ilze,” I want to whisper. “Imitation is the enemy of creativity.  Be an innovator, not an imitator.” I almost feel pity seeing her literally sitting at the feet of ‘le patron’.

“C’est comme ça,” Patron instructs with a flourish, while his students light up cigarettes and ponder his demo. Then back to the easels and the bowl of fruit.

Still lifes, nudes and harlequins are rotating themes. Every Saturday morning an eager group of would-be artists assemble at the Academie Julien on rue du Dragon. The atmosphere is terrific. The artwork less so.

Non, I regret to say. Paris in the 60s is no longer the exciting artists’ Mecca it once was. (C’est New York).

Ah, but she’s so proud of her Place Furstenberg digs. Let me tell you, it wasn’t always so.

A series of ‘chambers de bonne’ reached by an outside winding staircase, no water, a bed pushed diagonally to accommodate her tall stature. Then the live-ins (au paires) with wealthy Parisians where she shared the children’s quarters and the miserable back rooms with aged landladies.

But then lady luck in the guise of fellow McGillian, Ginny Stikeman, smiled on her and the two young ladies shared the apartment on loan from a member of the Canadian diplomatic corps who had gone to Africa. Ginny had a Citroen 2CV and life took on an even more dynamic turn.

Conquests she’d had a few but then again too few to mention…