|Made of Wood. How Can This Not Be Fine Art?|
Three things happened to me when I lived in Paris off and on for a decade in the 1990's. First of all, I sat at the feet of Pierre Ramond and sucked up all the valuable knowledge he was happy to throw at me. Secondly, I got to meet many of the most important furniture and museum conservators as well as discover their suppliers, like Patrick George. However, the most significant aspect of those travels was being accredited by ecole Boulle to receive their students in my workshop for a "stage" of work.
|"The Shack" by Patrice Lejeune|
In total, I received 18 different marquetry and ebeniste students, and each one was a valuable experience for both of us. They got to work in an American workshop. They got to live in San Diego, which is, in my opinion, one of the nicest places in the country to live. I got to speak French and teach as I worked. It was wonderful, but terminated suddenly when Pierre retired in 2000.
|"White Cockatoo" by Patrice Lejeune|
I had just about given up on having any other workers in the shop at that time. After all, I had worked alone for 30 years and I had a comfortable routine.
|"Gaetane" by Patrice Lejeune|
|"No Child Left Behind" by Patrice Lejeune ($50 shown for scale only)|
The short answer about the visa is that it was time consuming and expensive. Believe me. First of all, I had to prove the "equivalence" of his education and that he would not replace an American worker who could do the same work. As to his education, we spent a lot of money hiring a professional search team and they could only find one school in the country which would provide his education: the American School of French Marquetry in San Diego!
|"3ism" by Patrice Lejeune|
|"Four Different Aspects of a Nebulous Thought" by Patrice Lejeune|
He now has his green card and is a full partner in the business. He has really contributed to our success and the level of our work has been dramatically increased, since we both criticize each other's work and we are both obsessive about perfection. Sometimes at the expense of cost and deadlines...
|"Dance Muse" by Patrice Lejeune|
There is one thing that Patrice has done here that I would never have thought of. He has made modern marquetry art. Lots of it and in many different styles. He has also pushed the process of marquetry into a new direction with new techniques that he developed. He has also won awards and sold several of his pieces.
|"Circle of Life" by Patrice Lejeune|
In France, where marquetry has a long and respected tradition, there are often shows in different parts of the country which feature marquetry "art" and these shows are well attended by the public. Readers of this blog should know by now that I consider marquetry, and specifically Painting in Wood, to be a fine art. Unfortunately, the history of this field in this country is that, unless you glue it onto something functional, it is not appreciated. That means that if it hangs on the wall it never sells.
|"Cherry Blossom" by Patrice Lejeune|
That is a crime. Art made with wood as a medium is just as valid as art made with oil paint, or water colors or chalk. It takes just as much talent. It should be considered, at least, as "mixed media" which is a legitimate form of art, and can be quite valuable. In my opinion, marquetry art is a fine art.
|"3ism #2" by Patrice Lejeune|
That is why I thought it was time to post some of Patrice's work. After all, it hangs on the walls of the workshop and school, and I get to enjoy it every day. I thought I would share it with you.
|"Summer in the City" by Patrice Lejeune|
In particular, he has developed a series of contemporary mosaic designs which are abstract. They are new and colorful and evoke images of modern life.
|"Tide at Torrey Pines" by Patrice Lejeune|
Finally, in case you like dogs as much as I do, here is a portrait of a dog in wood.
|"Orpheo" by Patrice Lejeune|