"I am a great artist and I know it," wrote Paul Gauguin to his Danish wife Mette. "It is because I am such that I have endured such sufferings... You tell me that I am wrong to remain far away from the artistic center. No, I am right. I have known for a long time what I am doing and why I do it. My artistic center is in my brain and not elsewhere and I am strong because I am never sidetracked by others"
The French have been reading the tea leaves. Despite or perhaps because of recent violence, there seemed a new spirit of generosity towards tourists, if not to migrants. So many Americans are trooping off to art fairs. Why not also visit the most exciting performance festivals, many in France, which have a multicultural, often political, contemporary perspective? And a spate of private, hidden-away sites has also opened to the public which document the intensity of the lives and work of artists.
I'm a loyal kind of person, even when it comes to favorite cities. So, let me be clear, no European city can surpass the love I feel for Venice, Italy--an affair that reaches back 30 years when I fell fast for a handsome gondolier and his city. Soon, I married my gondolier and began calling the Serenissima, home.