The Portes Ouvertes: Walk and Invent Your Life

At the Portes Ouvertes, dozens of artists open their doors to their studios and unveil hidden parts of the city.

I saw this the other day and thought, yes!

Walk and invent your life.

As it happened, that’s exactly what I was out doing.  I’ve made a promise to myself: keep eyes (and ears and heart) open and find inspiration wherever it may exist.  In Paris, I don’t usually have to look far.

Recently I literally stumbled right into inspiration. On the way home, I saw a small group of four people looking down at green pamphlets and looking questioningly at a door. Then they went in.

On the spur of the moment, I followed.

Turns out it was a “portes ouvertes” in my neighborhood. This is always one of my favorite events, and even better when discovered serendipitously. 56 artists in the ‘hood were opening their doors to their studios and showcasing their work.

The portes ouvertes in Belleville is better known. It was great to discover an association of artists even closer to home.

As per usual, I was more interested in discovering some of these hidden spaces than in taking in most of the art.

(I’m just going to come clean: I feel stupid when I look at most contemporary art. I’m happy it exists, I love that artists are expressing themselves as they feel moved, but I tend not to get it.)

Having an awesome, unconventional space in Paris, though?  That I totally get (and covet).

I’m not sure where I’m headed next, but I’m just going to keep taking one step at a time. Follow the footsteps. Take random turns. Walk and invent my life.

The next Portes Ouvertes at 77, rue de Bagnolet, will take place on December 1st and 2nd, 2012. For more information check out the website of the Ateliers du    Père-Lachaise Associés. The Belleville Portes Ouvertes takes place once a year in May.

Sion Dayson is an American writer living in Paris. Her nonfiction has appeared in The Utne Reader, The Wall Street Journal, Girls’ Guide to Paris and her fiction in Smokelong Quarterly and the anthology Strangers in Paris, among other venues. She holds an MFA from Vermont College and is currently seeking publication of her first novel. She blogs about the City of Light’s quirkier side at paris (im)perfect.


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