Rhinos and Chalk

On the banks of the Seine near the Orsay, there is a long blackboard where passersby can draw and write messages. It’s just one of the free outdoor activities offered to the public along the river banks from the Musée d’Orsay to the Musée Quai Branly since last June. This stretch, called the Berges de Seine, is about 1.4 miles long, or 2.3 kilometers. During my most recent walk there, I saw a boxing class and kids playing paddle ball.

Currently on the blackboard are intricate oil stick drawings of rhinoceroses by artist Philippe Baudelocque. Baudelocque modeled these rhinos after the sculpture in front of the Musée d’Orsay by Alfred Jacquemart, who was active in the 1800s. Jacquemart’s work can be found all over Paris: the chimera at Fontaine Saint-Michel, the sphinxes of the fountain at Place du Châtelet, the Evangelists at Eglise Saint-Augustine.

The public can use chalk to draw around or over Baudelocque’s rhinos.

Kids do it.51.rhinosberges.2014aSo do adults.51.rhinosberges.2014bKids on adults fill the space up top.51.rhinosberges.2014cEven roller bladers stop to leave their mark. How cute is it that one member of this cool-looking pair is wearing knee pads?51.rhinosberges.2014dSome kids ignore the main event altogether and choose to draw on a block of cement instead.51.rhinosberges.2014e 51.rhinosberges.2014fSome people just stop to watch, and look fantastically sweet while doing it.51.rhinosberges.2014gOthers face the direction of the Seine.51.rhinosberges.2014hThe rhinos really are beautiful.51.rhinosberges.2014iHere’s a view of the board from afar.51.rhinosberges.2014j I love spots where you can stay in one place and see a lot of life. I’m pretty sure most adults who are not professional artists don’t draw regularly. It’s awesome that this outdoor chalkboard encourages creativity. It’s really about the act of drawing and writing rather than the result, as after you leave your mark, you walk away. It’s kind of like making a sand sculpture; anyone could come along and build on it or take it down, and eventually water will wash it away. But it doesn’t matter because it’s the activity that holds enjoyment.

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