How About A French Artist Date in Manhattan?

A Journey to Fill My Cup

I took the train into Manhattan last weekend for the first time since we moved to Connecticut. The air was cold with expected snowfall, and we were bundled in coats, scarves, and gloves. The journey took little more than an hour, and it felt good to be on a train again. It’s been a while. It was clean and not crowded.  I found its rhythms and sounds soothing as I settled back and watched the world go by. Grey winterscapes, pretty little towns, then increasingly industrial areas and old buildings slathered with graffiti as we approached the city.

I was excited to arrive at Grand Central Station. I adore the green zodiac ceiling in the main concourse and the orb glass enclosed clock on the information booth. It’s like something from a fairy tale – Harry Potter maybe. And don’t get me started on the gorgeous architectural details, carvings, and enormous arched windows.

I had two places I wished to visit on this trip, possibly the only time my itinerary has not included a gallery. The first was the Roman and Williams Guild at 53 Howard Street. The store is set behind a delightful French restaurant, La Mercerie, that is part of the Guild. One must walk through the restaurant to reach the store area. The kitchen is open to view on the left with fresh pies on the stone counters along with the Kaneko Kohyo Rinka dinnerware I fell in love with, sumptuous linen napkins and clutches of heavy silverware.

A visual feast without even sitting down to lunch – although next time I will make a reservation for sure. I took my time browsing through the store. Everything there is art. Beautifully crafted, scalloped edged plates and platters with butter-soft finishes, creamy linen napkins that look way too good to wipe a dirty mouth on and a variety of heavy silverware that is now on the top of my wish list.

Pure Inspiration

I love visiting places like this for the pure inspiration they provide. I can derive as much inspiration from a design store and restaurant like this as I can from a gallery of fine art. And everything here is crafted with the care of fine art. Some definitions of fine art say it must be purely decorative. If it is functional, it cannot be categorized as fine art. I think that’s an outdated and sadly limited view. Think of a Ming vase, for instance. Does having a function make it any less of a work of fine art?

I think we get to decide for ourselves what art is or isn’t. For me it’s about beauty. And it’s certainly not limited to painting or sculptures by the famous few. In fact, I’ve become increasingly aware of how my entire life can be a work of art. I’m an artist but my artmaking is not limited to what I create in my studio. When I arrange flowers from my garden, I’m creating beauty and a kind of art. When I design my home or simply buy new cushions for my sofa. I’m creating an aesthetic, curating beauty that speaks to me. I do this when I’m making my art too. And it’s everything. The way I dress. The way I shop for groceries and prepare our meals, the way I take my coffee or tea. It’s life as art. I get to design and curate it. Look for beauty and surround myself with things I love.

Life as Art

This is my art just as much as the new collection of paintings I’m working on and the new collection of wallpaper and fabric designs I’m also working on. My life is full of creativity and beauty because I’m designing it that way and I’m choosing to view it that way. FYI – you can do the same if you choose.

Filling my life with art does not mean spending a fortune or something only available to an elite few. Although a lottery win would make shopping at Roman and Williams SO much fun! Found objects in a glass jar can bring me so much joy.

I left the sanctum of the Guild floating on inspiration. Beauty makes me feel good. And just around the corner was an art supply store. Not planned but of course I stopped there. Apart from galleries and design stores I can literally lose hours in art supply stores and bookstores.

My final stop (I wanted to head home before the snow began) was another little French restaurant called Buvette, at 42 Grove Street in Greenwich Village. It’s located not far from the building where one of my favorite TV comedies, “Friends” was set. There was a long line of people waiting but parties of two were seated immediately which suited me fine. I had the most delicious Croque’s Monsieur I’ve ever eaten – served up like a small work of art – and only the greatest restraint held me back from sampling a chocolate almond croissant with my coffee. Hmmmm, my mouth is watering just remembering.

My sensory cup and my belly was full as I waved goodbye to my friend and headed back to Grand Central Station to catch my train home. A two-man jazz band was playing outside, and I watched the people all around laughing and chatting, rushing and stopping to take photos, scrolling on their phones and calling for cabs. Inside I asked for my platform number at the information kiosk, another opportunity to admire that gorgeous clock. A last glance over my shoulder at the zodiac ceiling and I set off down the stairs to platform 11 where my train was already waiting.

I claimed a window seat in an almost empty car and began making notes in a small journal of everything I’d loved about my trip. As I waited for our departure a group of travelers ahead of me got up to welcome four more. I was reminded of “Friends” again.

Rummaging through Visual Treats

As we swayed and clacked into motion, I rummaged through all the visual treats I had sampled and revisited my favorites. Walking into La Mercerie with all its art of food and tableware, that exciting kitchen, those gorgeous linens and silverware. The brushes and rows of paint tubes in the art supply store. The invigorating walk to the delicious cheer of Buvette. And all to share with a good friend. Sweet moments.

I watched the buildings melt to natural winter spaces and wondered when the snow would begin. It was a comfortable ride, and it was just getting dark when I arrived home. Barry had already lit a fire for us where we spent the evening. Outside the snow began to fall.

Did you miss the story of my last safari in South Africa? Read about it and watch the video here:

Want to know more about how I make my art? Look through my blogs here:

View some of my art here:

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