“rue Mouffetard”

“rue Mouffetard”, by Robert Leedy, 2003, watercolor on paper, Collection of Mr. & Mrs. David Epstein, Jacksonville, Florida
“rue Mouffetard”,
by Robert Leedy, 2003,
watercolor on paper,
Collection of Mr. & Mrs. David Epstein, Jacksonville, Florida

The street market at rue Mouffetard, in Paris’ 5th Arrondissement, is perhaps one of the oldest and most vibrant markets in the city. Historians have traced the origins of the market as far back as the 12th Century. The road itself is supposedly a remnant of a Roman one. While we lived in Paris, the market at rue Mouffetard was a favorite Sunday morning destination for Vicky and me.

I painted “rue Mouffetard” in my Paris studio from a photo I took in October of 2003. Around that time, I was approached about a commission: An American man – a friend of a friend – and his wife had spent a lot of time in Paris and stayed in the vicinity of rue Mouffetard. They adored the neighborhood and wanted me to do a watercolor of a recognizable landmark in the area. On one of our Sunday outings, I took a camera and went hunting for imagery.

Today, I was house cleaning on one of my Mac’s and discovered this lost video file. I tagged it with a title and my name and uploaded it to my YouTube account. You can also see it below. It was never meant to be shown and is merely a sketch for my records.

This painting also is a poignant reminder of a dear friend. There were only three teachers I had in high school in Jacksonville, Florida whom I deem as positive influences on my young, impressionable mind: Paul Reilly, my art teacher; Marianne Lowe, my Mass Media (Film) teacher; and Stacy Wolf, my English teacher. Miss Wolf was one of a small group of teachers in those days who strived to make learning a fun experience. She frequently assigned her students with writing projects and she loved my free-flowing thoughts and wild, made up stories I handed in. The following year she put me in an independent study for Creative Writing. My job: write anything I wanted and turn it in by week’s end. I was not required to attend class, had free rein around campus and, being a young, seventeen-year-old, I abused the privilege somewhat; however, I always managed – by Friday afternoon – to turn in a piece of writing that would make her beam.

Stacy Wolf (center) with Karen Puckhaber Clark and Charlie Brannen at the National Honor Society Installation, Fall 1975. Photo courtesy of Julie Owen.

I didn’t see her for years after high school. While in college, I realized how wonderful an educator she had been and the influence she had on me. Stacy later married David Epstein, a Jacksonville attorney. She eventually became frustrated with the public school system and traded in her teaching job for a career in Real Estate and quickly became a top producer in her new field.

It was great seeing her at a high school reunion years later. Vicky & I were living in Buenos Aires at the time and I believe I won the prize for furthest traveled. Stacy & I got a chance to catch up on our lives since the mid 70’s. She and David had adopted two sons and she was thrilled at being a new mom. After that, we kept in touch and I called her to say hello on most of my trips back to Jacksonville. I went to visit once and got to see how much she loved her boys – and how much they loved her. They seemed to have a very special bond…

When we moved to Paris, Stacy told me she wanted to come to Paris with her boys to visit us. She was excited about the trip and actually selected some dates that didn’t work out either because of her sons’ school schedules or our busy house guest schedule in Paris. Before we knew it, our time in Paris was about to expire and there was no time left. Right before we left Paris for Denver, I had an opening for a show of my works in St. Augustine, Florida; David, Stacy and the boys showed up for it. It was a real surprise to see them. They purchased the above painting, “rue Mouffetard”, and Stacy seemed very thrilled with it. She expressed regrets for not making it to Paris while we were there.

A few years ago, my mother called me in Denver to tell me Stacy had died suddenly from a brain hemorrhage. It had happened a week or so earlier so I was too late for her funeral. The news was especially sad and I spent the rest of the day thinking about how often people die without fully realizing all of their dreams. Not that she was lagging behind – Stacy always seemed to have a full list of To Do’s and she went after them full steam. I was glad that I actually had the chance to thank her for inspiring me in so many aspects of creativity and the quest for knowledge. I knew her death had to be especially devastating on David and the boys and I thought about writing the boys a letter to tell them what a wonderful mom they had and the very positive influence she had on a young mind.

I never wrote the letter. Maybe I will one day…

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