by Megan James
This guest post comes from Carley Stempel, a newly minted UVM grad who has just wrapped up an internship at Seven Days.
Visitors to Shelburne's Village Wine & Coffee this month find might themselves feeling transported from the bustle of Shelburne Road to the streets of Paris on a balmy spring day. Katra Kindar’s watercolor series "Les Bicyclettes de Paris" depicts the romantic nooks and crannies of the City of Light as seen through the spokes of its bicycles.
At 8 a.m. on a recent Wednesday the specialty wine and coffee shop’s patrons are primarily on the go. People place orders at the coffee bar, chattering over the frequent churn of the coffee grinder. The tables in front of the far wall, where Kindar’s work hangs, are vacant, allowing the watercolors to take center stage. Patrons who stop to look will find the whimsical paintings a pleasant respite from the chaos of their morning commute. They're worth lingering over.
“Each painting has its own story to tell, its own narrative,” writes Kindar in an artist statement accompanying the exhibit. “Very simply, 'Les Bicyclettes de Paris' expresses the functional and elegant beauty of the bicycle in the most beautiful and elegant city in the world.”
The Vermont artist is no stranger to the delights of Paris — her son, tightrope artist Jade Kindar-Martin, lives there, and she visits him often.
Kindar’s series beckons with an alluring color palette, and perspectives that may make viewers feel as if they'd hopped a ride on the handlebars. In these paintings, bicycles are the real denizens of the city.
In “Les Bicyclettes de Paris #3” a gray bicycle leans gently against the exterior of a brilliant blue building. Like a fine lady sitting for a portrait, the metal skeleton of the bicycle is posed gracefully before a backdrop of red flowers.
“Les Bicyclettes de Paris #5” presents another ride, this one leisurely propped against a bridge along the river. With an expert handling of light and shadow, Kindar captures a sense of shady relief from her bright-yellow rendering of a hot, high sun.
The exploration of Paris continues. Bicycles lean against park gates and lamp posts and peek out from café shrubbery. A handful of paintings features human figures, presented in shadow — they play supporting roles to the bicycle stars.
No. 7 in the series stands out: Kindar renders a soft skyline in the yellows and blues of sunset, and places the bicycle not on the ground but balanced delicately along a wire. The rider sits tall, holding a balancing stick. The tightrope daredevil is again rendered in shadow. Kindar's bicycles find adventure everywhere in this city.
After taking in Kindar’s paintings, a viewer might suddently see the coffee shop in a new light: as a trove of supplies one might need on a bike ride. Wine bottles beckon from racks and shelves. Soft cheeses and sausages, even baguettes, are available. Just enough to load up a bike basket and pedal off to a picnic.
Katra Kindar's "Les Bicyclettes de Paris" is at Village Wine & Coffee in Shelburne through June 6.