The world has pretty much opened back up. Living in Queens New York, an early epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in The United States, we were locked down for one of the longest sustained periods in the States for close to three months. And longer for certain types of businesses. It was a time like nothing we’ve know in our history. The fear of catching the virus coupled with not knowing enough about how to fully protect oneself was palpable. The steady stream of ambulances we heard rushing down our avenue was haunting. The sadness of knowing people were dying at alarming rates was an underlying condition. And the job loss and economic uncertainty added to the collective anxiety.
With two young children at home my days were marked by the daily habits of survival; cooking and cleanup the only signals of routine. Since most everything was closed in our neighborhood, laundry in the bathtub every few days became normal. There was an almost constant display of clothes hanging on the shower rod or above any window with a little sun that would help them dry faster. And a flower or two cut from my borrowed plot of land downstairs almost literally filled my cup of Hope.
There wasn’t a lot of extra time or even down-time to follow much on Instagram. But when I was able to steal a moment or two, the visual escape and virtual connection it offered was a genuine comfort. Just to see how people all over the world were coping with their own challenges helped me get through my own. One Instagram account in particular that really lifted my spirits was that of French photographer, Francois Halard. He shared a post each day during his quarantine in Arles. Those posts became a series of photographs documenting moments in his beautiful home in the South of France as the world resté à la maison.
While we are used to seeing other homes and artists through Francois’ eyes, it was noteworthy to be invited to witness his home with such regularity. To me, his eye frames his objects and art with a reverence and sensitivity. The beauty, patina and refinement found in his collected objects harmonizes with each hand-painted wall color and the perfect southern light that Arles is known for. And in some of the shots with reflective glass if you look closely, you can catch a glimpse of Francois himself doing what he does best. Reminding us that beauty is all around us. We only have to Look. Even more so when the world seems to be falling around us.
Since I couldn’t afford one of his polaroids, I painted his, ‘Peonies Day 35.’
Watercolor by Beth Horta.