Here it is, the bleak December, and time once again to start thinking about Paris.
A year ago, I wrote about Minneapolis photographer Peter O’Toole and his unique book that crosses an art portfolio with a travel guide for walking in Paris. Titled “Paris Photos/Paris Walks,” it is a tribute to the timeless Paris we think about when we see movies like “Amelie” or savor the flashback scenes in “Casablanca.”
O’Toole, who works for the City of Minneapolis, used a manual camera to take black-and-white photographs of Paris sights during visits to the City of Lights over nine years. What he produced a year ago was a photo book organized around 14 “walks” through city neighborhoods. Follow the book’s maps and you may see Paris as it might be seen by a “flaneur,” the term Baudelaire used to describe “a gentleman stroller of city streets.”
O’Toole paid for a first run of 500 copies, but they sold out quickly despite being stocked only at the Walker Art Center’s bookstore and at Garrison Keillor’s Common Good Books shop in St. Paul. One reason is that people like Christopher Stevens, development director at the Walker, bought stacks of them for gifts.
“Working at the Walker, I met lots of people who love going to Paris, so the book is a perfect gift,” Stevens said. “I must have bought dozens of copies.”
O’Toole also is being featured at the Walker’s “Local Artist Gift Mart” that takes place from noon to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday at the museum. The book, a handsome thing with a built-in bookmark, also is being sold through O’Toole’s website. Price: $65.