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Street Art - August 2015

This summer, the Aquitaine (land of water) region of France has been hot and without rain for weeks. Though serious for farmers and gardeners, the weather has been good for holiday makers and the events which are regularly created for their enjoyment.

For an artist, whether recreational or professional, an increasing number of the many beaux villages are holding their annual painting-in-the-street festivals. Such events attract many more visitors to already large numbers, albeit for only one or two days.

In the case of aptly-named Collonges-la-Rouge, Rene Boutang, local artist for nearly seven decades, has a bigger picture in mind - he wants to save his village from becoming merely a museum, open only a few weeks a year. Collonges village has only about 40 residents and the 20 or so shops open only for the season. Rene is striving to establish Collonges as a year-round centre for the visual arts, has founded a society (3A) for the promotion of this idea and may be close to securing a permanent home for the arts there. The yearly painting-in-the-street festival, for Collonges is the focus for a means of survival.

As a co-founder of 3A, I have been involved in two live street-art events this August so far and have one more to attend. The first was in the georgeous Basque town of Salies de Bearn, home of my eldest sonís family, and the second was in Collonges itself. My aim is to feel how well these festivals work for participating artists and visitors and whether they could attract more serious interest for the longer term.

The last such event for me this year will be in my local Le Mas díAgenais (as visited by Rick Stein) famous for two great artistic works: Christís Passion by Rembrandt painted in 1625; and the Venus du Mas (Roman sculpture found in the late 1800s).


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