Arts Devo

Arts DEVO’s European art tour

Pilgrimage to Palais Ideal.

Pilgrimage to Palais Ideal.

Traveling DEVOs Seven planes, 10 trains, one Uber, eight cabs, one rental car, nine buses, 18 metro rides, two ferries, and at least one dozen death marches. The DEVOs put the “travel” in traveling. Fresh off our European tour, Arts and Mrs. DEVO’s heads are still spinning as we process our whirlwind 22-day trip through Spain, Italy, France and Belgium. We did spend a fair amount of time on the move from one place to another, but on balance we spent much more time living la dolce vita, butchering romance languages, retracing the history of Western civilization, drinking rosé and eating pizzas, pastas and pintxos.

And, true to my name, we saw just a little bit of art. We walked in the footsteps of Van Gogh in St. Remy and Arles, France; got lost in the enormous, ambitious and wonderfully twisted designs of Gaudi and chanced upon huge Picasso reliefs in Spain; were overwhelmed by the Catholic church’s haul of nearly every great artist in history at the Vatican Museums; stomped around a little place called the Flavian Amphitheatre in Rome; and spotted some interstellar mosaic art by street artist Invader in Paris. All in all, I checked off four of my personal bucket list items during the trip—the Colosseum, Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, drinking the “best beer in the world” made by the Saint-Sixtus monks at the Westvleteren Brewery in Belgium, and No. 1: visiting Le Palais Idéal.

Ferdinand Cheval was a postman from Hauterives, a rural town in southwestern France. One day in 1879, while walking his route, he tripped on an intriguing-looking stone that he picked up and put in his pocket. He returned the following day to collect more of the curious rocks and he just never stopped. For the next 33 years, he brought wheelbarrows full of stones home and added cement and lime to build an ornate and surreal castle that he daydreamed about on his long walks delivering mail. He had no experience building or sculpting and his neighbors labeled him insane, but he ignored everything other than the vision in his head. Working alone for those 33 years, he completed his “fairy-like palace beyond imagination,” Le Palais Idéal, the Ideal Palace.

The notion at the heart of art-making—bringing forth what’s inside one person and adding it to everyone else’s reality—is so powerfully represented in Cheval’s singular structure, and it’s stuck with me ever since I first read about it. To finally stand in the middle of his life’s work with Mrs. DEVO and touch the very heart of creation was nearly unbearable. That one’s going to be hard to beat.


• Two more open mics: The closing of Has Beans Coffee & Tea’s Main Street location means another longtime downtown institution—the weekly Has Beans Open Mic—will, at least temporarily, come to an end. Join the regulars, past and present, at a two-show send-off this Thursday and Friday, July 6 and 7, 7-10 p.m.

• Contributing rocker: CN&R contributor Robin Bacior lives up in Portland, Ore. But she used to knock around these parts, and next Wednesday, July 12, she’ll return to show off her other craft—writing dreamy indie-pop songs. Catch her and a couple local songwriters, Aric Jeffries and Coyote Church, at the Maltese.