Sunday, August 1, 2010

Happiness is an Artist's Date

Years ago I read Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, and doors opened.  So much of what she suggested makes perfect sense.  But I don't practice what I learned frequently enough.  I write in my journal (preferably in the morning) occasionally.  I have managed to silence some of the "nay" voices in my head.  And I am sporadic in making my artist "date" - the times when you take yourself off to  look at art, nature, inspiration, materials - any of the things that might stimulate ideas, creativity, energy for your art.
But this Friday I feel like I had a whole Artist Retreat.  While it's often good to do these dates alone, this one was in the good company of my friend, Leslie. 
We got off to a challenging start.  She got stuck in ridiculous traffic and we missed the train.  So we decided to have coffee and found a place close to the train station where we pretended this was part of our plan - instead of getting off the train and having coffee, we'd do it now.
Once in New York, we jumped on a subway to SoHo to visit her sister in law who is an artist.  Katherine took us to a neighborhood restaurant that was perfect.  A sycamore tree was growing up from the sidewalke and they'd built their awning around it - lovely.  The food served was bright, fresh, spicy, delicious.  Then we walked through the neighborhood to her apartment to see her paintings.  Watching the people on the sidewalks and the streets, the clothes, the hair, the postures, the modes of transportation was great fun.  And then there were Katherine's paintings!  Fabulous!  Walls of them.  Street scenes, cityscapes, portraits of her friends, luscious color and movement.  Just the fact that all this wonderful work was accomplished in a 600 square foot apartment, and there was still room for living and  guests was inspiring. 
Leslie's shoes weren't working for her so we decided to go to Century 21 to look for replacements and just to see the store.  What a wild place!  I hadn't been there since just before 9/11 - so being in that neighborhood, passing St. Paul's where I'd spent a day volunteering, brought back memories and images.
Then on to Tu Lu's, a gluten free bakery near Union Square.  More fascinating neighborhoods to walk through.  And interesting conversation with the young woman helping us.
Finally we caught a subway uptown to end our day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The Met is so huge that I can only take in a couple of exhibits with  attention on any one trip.  After a brief refreshment in the cafeteria where we planned what to see, we headed for the rooftop where the Starn brothers have installed Big Bambu, a fabulous sculpture in progress.  The evening light was golden, visitors were in a festive mood - the whole rooftop felt magical!
Downstairs we visited the American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity exhibit, that was beautifully done.  I loved the juxtaposition of costume, film, and text and the opportunity to think about what clothing does to us and for us.  Leslie and I could have much longer conversations about this, I'm sure.
There was a quick look through some modern paintings, especially Matisse, but the museum was closing and we had to head for home.
My head is still spinning.  I'm eager to spend some time writing about my impressions and then perhaps see where some of this may pop up in my own painting.  And I'm eager for another artist date, perhaps more focussed.


  1. Hello Becky, so nice to meet you! This is the first time that I'm here and I like your blog a lot - I'll follow you now. I like what you wrote about your day in NY and almost feel like I was there as well.

  2. Thanks, Carola. Welcome. How did you find me?

  3. Hi Becky, WOW! You did so much in NYC. I live in NY and had no idea of some of the exhibits at the Met so I need to go there.

  4. Hi Anna, yes, I forget sometimes to look up and see what's new there - but there's always something. My husband gave me a membership for Christmas last year and I can't tell you what a treat that has been!