Visiting Germany — a short Overview

June, 2010

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.

Jörg Iwan, Jacky Sparkowsky, Cornelia Seckel, Raymond J. Steiner on the terrace of Castle Reichsburg in Cochem, Germany

Jörg Iwan, Jacky Sparkowsky, Cornelia Seckel, Raymond J. Steiner on the terrace of Castle Reichsburg in Cochem, Germany

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.

More later….

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5 Responses to Visiting Germany — a short Overview

  1. Annie Hoffstatter says:

    After reading your travel blog I had to wonder if the post-impressionist style become popular because of all the available good wine in that region. Could the modern artists just have been too drunk to paint as the shtumpers” did? Hummm……….

  2. Francine L. Trevens says:

    This is a comment on the blog – neat clean, easy to navigate and informative. What more can one ask for?

  3. jill silber says:

    My first visit to a ‘blog’ – and what a delight!
    Thank you.

  4. Heidi Robertson says:

    Sounds like a wonderful trip and a beautiful place to visit. Your words make me feel like I’m looking over your shoulder. Thanks for the vacation.

  5. Thank you so much for your informative way of telling us about your
    experiences. I truly believe that a large segment of todays artist
    really don’t have the inner spirit which is required to create a masterpiece.
    One has to SEE beyond the drawing paper, canvas or any other medium
    to access the essence of creativity.
    When I start a 40″x60″ scratchboard, my inner voice says that there won’t be
    anything like this in many years to come. I mean it; I don’t want anyone to
    come close to achieving what I achieve and I work towards that end.
    My work can be viewed at; http://www.101exhibit.com
    Click on my name under artist.
    Thanks again
    John Monteiro

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