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Blair and Paint FoxModena (Read 2717 times)
Jun 9th, 2005 at 12:27am

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Makawao,  Maui, USA, HI

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The idea of the American Design Center in Paris was first conceived in 1996.  Blair and I thought it would be a good idea to open a center to sell American design products in Europe.  With the formation of a United Europe, and the Euro right around the corner, the largest buying community in the world would be at our feet.  We proceeded to get our ducks in a row.

This week France and Holland sent a resounding "NO" to the European constitution. Now, one of the ministers is proposing Italy return to the "lire".  It is the apparent dissolution of the "new Europe".

The mood here is gloomy among the business owners and intelligentsia.  A thinking person knows the existing social programs can't continue much longer, without bankrupting the state.  Businesses which had hoped to sell their products to the rest of Europe and to the world, have slipped back into a provincial frame of mind.  Europe has said "No" to the future.

Paris, Strasbourg, and other large French cities (except Marseilles) voted YES.  Regions involved in manufacturing, such a Normandy, felt threatened by easy imports: no.  Poor areas like Marseilles didn't want to lose their social programs, and joined the negative.  Other issues such as the inclusion of Turkey in the Union, and the general dislike of Chirac played a role.

The American Design Center in Paris opened in March 1998 at 231, rue du Faubourg St. Honore.  Blair and I represented more than a dozen US manufacturers.   We went to the office every day.  One week I called 248 prospective clients.  Our first sales didn't come until nearly 2000.  Our banner years were 2001 and 2002, with over a million dollars in sales.  Like Europe, there was a pall that fell in 2003, and has yet to lift.  Consecutively, our artwork began to take over as our source of income. 

The American Design Center still exists, in a modified form.  We quoted prices for American furniture today.  On Tuesday, we are traveling to Germany to propose our artwork for a hotel there.

We are hearing a lot more American voices on the street this week.  The dollar has risen 10 per cent against the Euro, which can only help a dwindling tourist industry.

Our friend Quentin won the competition for a new French medal commemorating 200 years of US/France friendship.   His image of Benjamin Franklin, alongside the US and French flags, will be cast in coins of gold and silver.

Blair and I are planning our next project.  On summer vacation this year, we'll be painting, sketching and writing about the "Torrington Twisters", part of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.  I am trying to capture the nuances of the pitch, and the hit.  We're boning up on baseball jargon.  There will be an expo and a book in August.

Fortunes rise and fall, governments come and go, and ducks never quite line up.  But tomorrow is a new game.


Laurie (text) and Blair (painting) PESSEMIER
"Modena, Italy"  oil on linen, 18 x 21.5 inches
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