Ali Baba’s cavern…

Screen shot 2014-05-23 at 9.32.23 AMToday is the Fête des Voisins. Started in the 17th arrondisement in 1999, it is a day when neighbors are encourage to get out and get to know one another, with buildings hosting potluck cocktails in the evening. This year is the first year I have ever lived in a building the celebrates the fête. And since our building is also a convent, with a private chapel I have never visited I was VERY excited when the nuns invited us all to come celebrate on their side of the garden! VERY excited. SO excited that I decided I was going to bake an American treat to share with everyone. Cookies!!! Even if that meant I was going to have to cross town for American style flour (different grind, pore proteins, more gluten), which is how I found myself in the Marais yesterday morning, waiting for the American grocery store to open. I was umbrella-less, the rain pouring down in buckets 6 hours earlier than announced by the weather app.

Looking for shelter, I wandered into St Paul Village, a quaint warren of antique shops where I spotted a photography store that is always closed when I pass. This morning the lights were on and somebody looked to be home. That somebody was M Sylvain Calvier, a discrete gentleman who has a great eye and is clearly passionate about photos. Dozens of dust-proof boxes are stacked every which way, atop wooden cabinets with narrow drawers viewers can open to find stuffed full oScreen shot 2014-05-23 at 9.32.37 AMf 19th century snap shots. It is an absolute jumble that is a treasure trove of 19th and 20th century photography.

I asked if he had photos of artists in their ateliers. M Calvier came from behind his desk, weaving through stacks of stock, piles of art books, and random body parts with determination. He knew exactly what he was looking for, and where it in his messy tumble jumble of a bScreen shot 2014-05-23 at 9.33.07 AMoutique.

He pulled out a box, set it on another random stack and invited me to have a look. Twenty minutes later, I’d finished flipping through the images, looked up and  noticed a pattern; geometric spheres. Everywhere. In clay, glass and wood; lining bookshelves, wedged in between sculpture, taking pride of place in the back window sill. Doing some research this morning I read that rather poetically, M Calvier considers himself an “Eleveur des polyèdres”. In English, he raises polyhedrons, 3D forms of geometric shapes. The gentleman is obsessed with geometry in the world. Which may explain his keen eye for photography.The shapes are beautiful in their mathematical perfection, their purity inspiring a zen calm. A yin to the turbulent yang of his chaotic space. The church bell rang and it was time for me to head back out and buy my flour, but I can’t wait to lead Mr French into this marvelous little shop of delights and explore some more.

More on the Fête des voisins on Monday!!!

Des photographies… 13 rue St Paul, 4ème

more about his geometry Screen shot 2014-05-23 at 9.32.08 AM

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3 thoughts on “Ali Baba’s cavern…

  1. Wait a minute–you did a bait and switch. I thought this was leading to the nuns and lo and behold we end up with Buckminster Fuller’s brother. Actually, I don’t mind at all. It reminds me of such a shop I visited in Germany many years ago where was housed the largest collection of photographic postcards (and other such images) I’d ever seen. It being Germany, the place was meticulous and very organized.

    I love the images you got of the place, very nice.

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