No 35. Père-Lachaise Cemetery

Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Paris, France. With more than 3.5 million visitors annually, it is the most visited necropolis in the world.
Friends recommended we visit suggesting, in particular, a visit to the grave of Jim Morrison. They failed to mention several important highlights which we wished we’d known about at the time, especially the Communards Wall and Oscar Wilde.
Opened in 1804 the cemetery is located on the hillside from which the king once watched skirmishing armies. Established as a cemetery by Napoleon, who had declared that “Every citizen has the right to be buried regardless of race or religion”.
At the time of its opening, the cemetery was considered to be situated too far from the city and attracted few funerals. Many Roman Catholics refused to have their graves in a place that had not been blessed by the Church. In 1804, the cemetery contained only 13 graves. Administrators implemented a marketing strategy to improve its image: with great fanfare, they organized to transfer the remains of Jean de La Fontaine and Molière to the new resting place.
Presently there are more than 1 million bodies buried there, and many more in the columbarium, which holds the remains of those who had requested cremation.[5] The Communards’ Wall (Mur des Fédérés), located within the cemetery, was the site where 147 Communards, the last defenders of the workers’ district of Belleville, were shot on 28 May 1871 when Paris refused to capitulate to the Prussians in the brief Franco-Prussian War.[6] That day was the last of the Semaine Sanglante (“Bloody Week”), during which the Paris Commune was crushed. Today, the site is a traditional rallying point for members of the French political Left. Ironically, Adolphe Thiers, the French president who directed “Bloody Week”, is also interred in the cemetery, where his tomb has occasionally been subject to vandalism.

Jay M. Ressler

Jay Ressler Composite Photography and Encaustic Art He is an outstanding location photographer, with an eye that can capture the soul of a Havana back street as beautifully as the sip of a hungry hummingbird, often with compelling black and white images. But Jay Ressler is best known for artistic expression that lives in layers between opposites. “I like to explore boundaries,” he explains. “Boundaries between consciousness and the unconscious, between reality and imagination, between certainty and skepticism.” He does this by compositing his own photography in multiple layers to produce stunningly original, interleaved images. Using Photoshop, other image manipulation software and a variety of digital effects, he paints one photographic layer on top of another. He takes advantage of textures he's captured along with an array of processes for manipulating light, contrast, and color to tell the story. “Distorting and reinterpreting the literal 'machine moments' captured by the camera is as old as the art of photography,” he insists. Jay occasionally extends his multi-layered approach to encaustic mixed media creations. Based on ancient techniques, the process begins with cooking his own recipes of beeswax and damar resin and applying this medium between the layers of photographic images, along with various pigmented compounds and materials to add color, texture and expression. Either way, the results are riveting. The viewer is drawn into an unfolding, dreamlike scene that might be heart-warming, haunting, gritty, poignant or magical. Sometimes, within the various layers, all of the above. The award-winning photographer/artist has many dimensions himself. He studied advanced digital photography at Pittsburgh Filmmakers and advanced encaustic techniques with leading instructors in the field. He worked as an underground coal miner, steelworker, machinist, labor and civil rights activist, copywriter and commercial printer. He has a BS in Psychology from Albright College.

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