By RAYMOND J. STEINER
ALTHOUGH MORE WILL be coming later — reviews of two shows (Max Lazarus in Trier and Heinrich J. Jarczyk in Konigswinter) — I feel I ought to unload some of the images and memories of my trip before they are forever lost to a memory that grows more unreliable every day. Our flight from JFK to Düsseldorf by Air Berlin was uneventful, the journey a bit cramped for the seven or so hours of travel but the attendants pleasant and accommodating. At Düsseldorf, we were met by Heinrich Jarczyk and his wife Christiane who immediately whisked us away to their home just outside of Cologne in Bergisch Gladbach. There we freshened up, caught up on new and old news, enjoying a cold beer on their terrace overlooking a “homey” view of the neighboring backyards, all sporting well-kept lawns and gardens already in full bloom with spring flowers.
During our stay with the Jarczyk’s, Heinz and I went into Cologne — always a fascinating city for me, my many visits always seeming to be too brief, the intervals too far apart. We went to the Wallraf-Richartz Museum where we saw a show of landscapes by Max Lieberman, Max Slevogt and Lovis Corinth. It is always an informative session to visit a museum with Jarczyk — who is well-versed in both history and art. During our viewing of the landscape paintings, we could discuss our favorites, point out our likes and dislikes, in the end often in full agreement as to the best work of each of the artists. We also learned from a wall-placard that Corinth, a follower of the post-impressionist artists, declared “realist” painters “Shtümpers” — i.e. “bunglers”. As we read, we looked at each other and almost said simultaneously, “So, now I know what kind of painter I am!” A good laugh and then on to an outdoor café, which was on a street facing the Cathedral. I still recall my first glimpse of the “Dom”, bathed in light when we arrived in the evening by train from Paris, now over twenty years ago. Largely untouched by our bombers during WWII, the Cathedral stands as an enduring testament to mankind’s almost super-human efforts to please the Creator…it is, in brief, a very beautiful structure. I was a bit saddened to see, however, that the large, paved area in front of the imposing front steps and façade is now filled not only with tourists but also by a noisy bunch of skate-boarders, whose antics threaten passers-by with bodily injury as well as several mimes begging attention and whatever coins might be dropped in a nearby box — at least the mimes were silent!
Our next adventure began when our friends and oft-time fellow-travelers Jacky Sparkowsky and Jörg Iwan of Berlin came to pick us up for a five-day exploratory trip of the Mosel River. Famous for its vineyards that border the river — and its Riesling grape — we had hours of wine-drinking, sight-seeing, and conversation over our meals. We split up our time between two hotels — one in Cochem, the second in Bernkastel — from which we made forays both up and down the river, visiting small towns nestled into hillsides, almost completely overtaken by vineyards that were just beginning to fruit. Our main purpose was to seek out cozy restaurants, friendly “weinstuben” (wine-bars) and interesting sites — which, of course, included castles, historic places, and Roman ruins. Our final destination was Trier — believed to be the oldest city in Germany — home of Constantine (eventual founder of Constantinople and largely known as the disseminator of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire) and site of the remnants of Celtic, Roman and, naturally, of early German civilizations. Though generally thought to be owed to the Romans, the existence of the grapevine in the region may have been already brought to the Mosel banks by the Celts — in any event, the grape and its products dominate the region, very nearly every square foot of every possible hillside that could be cleared given over to its cultivation.
Thus far our travels, and now we are returned to Bergisch Gladbach, taking a small breather before we go to Konigswinter on Sunday to see Jarczyk’s exhibition at Haus Schlesien.