This summer, one of my close friends Olivia moved to Chicago with her husband Peter. Olivia wanted a travel partner for the long drive from Boston to Chicago and I jumped at the chance to road trip with her! Over the years, we have taken multiple trips to the beach, music festivals and weddings, but we've never done a trip the song before. I'm going to miss not living a five minute bike ride from her, so thought this would be a good chance to spend some time with her before she leaves.
We split the trip into two days. The first day we drove from Boston to Cleveland and the second day we drove from Cleveland to Chicago. We listened to CDs on the way, shared favorite memories and spent some time quietly watching the landscape unfold.
After helping Peter and Olivia unpack, we had a few days to explore their new city. We ate dinner at a few local restaurants in their new neighborhood, Evanston, and walked to the beach. I never knew Chicago had beaches!
One night I walked to an ice cream store near their house. Along the way I saw a bunch of antique rug stores. I loved walking past the woven designs lit up at night.
The day before I left, I took the L train downtown and spent a day at the Art Institute of Chicago. I was really excited to see Helen Frankenthaler Prints: The Romance of a New Medium. I had seen pictures of this show online, but didn't think I would have the chance to see it in person. It comes down in September, so I was lucky to make it!
The show included over 50 prints ranging from lithographs to woodcuts. I really loved the saturated color fields and texture of her woodcuts and her playful experimentation with printing on colored paper and drawing into the printed image with crayon.
Some process proofs were included in the show to show the evolution of some of her prints. I love it when curators include process work. It provides insight into what an artist was thinking as she made a piece and the decisions that happen along the way that inform the final image. You can see some of Helen's hand written notes to the printers above: "Acid yellow no thanks," and "ditto dead orange out."
After viewing the prints, I walked through the Arts of Africa galleries. I was especially drawn to these South African wedding ensembles for a bride and groom. The time and care put into these outfits is amazing. The beads, pom poms and bracelets make the outfit feel very celebratory.
In the American galleries, I saw this beautiful Mosaic Disk from Northern Oaxaca, Mexico. The dial is a pictorial manuscript that celebrates calendrical events and includes mythological imagery of crossed darts, dates, and footsteps leading up to the sun. I love the turquoise used in creating the piece and the way it is pieced together.
Next, I saw Charles White: A Retrospective. White was born in Chicago and attended the School of the Art Institute. The show included paintings, drawings and prints that explore themes of African American history and the fight for freedom, the nobility of black people, and the dignity of labor and human nature. I was particularly drawn to some of his later prints including Love Letter III and Love Letter I (pictured above).
I've been to the Art Institute a few times over the past few years, so always love seeing new work installed that I've never seen before. Two of my favorite paintings from the permanent collection are pictured above: Lyonel Meininger, Longueuil, Normandie, and Alex Katz's Yellow House 2.
I just got back from traveling to Paris for a week! Visiting Paris has been a dream of mind ever since I was a student in undergrad, and I am so grateful that I was able to visit and stay with my friend Taylor Smith when I was there. Taylor has been living in Paris for the past three years and received her MA in Cultural Meditation form the Ecole du Louvre last spring. She is currently an artist-in-residence at the Foundation des Etats-Unis, within the Cité Internationale Universitaire in Paris.
On my first full day in Paris, Taylor and I went to eat at La Recyclerie, an old train station that's been turned into a restaurant and event space. It aims to raise public awareness of eco-responsible values in a fun and positive way. It has an amazing garden along the old train tracks and it even has a chicken coop and "insect hotel."
Next, Taylor took me to the Saint Ouen Markets. It was fun walking through the old antiques and glimpsing some of the traditional French clothes and objects. Then we climbed to the top of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city to see the Sacré-Cœur and views of Paris.
After taking in the incredible views, we walked around Le Marais, a historic arts district full of winding streets and sidewalk artists drawing portraits. Taylor was surprised that there were some new cafes and restaurants in the middle of the plaza and said that there used to be a lot more artists.
We continued through the labyrinth streets and saw a few kids having a bake sale, so we stoped to buy a few treats to bring to our dinner with Ashley, Taylor's friend from the Ecole du Louvre. Ashley cooked us a delicious asparagus mushroom risotto and salad. I love the intimate experience of traveling with friends because it allows me to imagine what it might be like to live in a city, instead of just feeling like a tourist.
The next morning I woke up and went running with Taylor. We ran to the Jardin du Luxembourg, which was so beautiful. The gardens were immaculate and I was amazed by how much time the city devotes to landscaping green spaces and beautification. I don't usually bring y phone with me when I go running, so I don't have any pictures from the garden, but it can be nice to travel and feel unencumbered, so I embraced the time away from technology. After showering, I headed north to Castelblangeois Bakery to eat a quick lunch before going to the Louvre. Taylor recommended the bakery as a cheap spot that she went to when she studied in that area. I bought a sandwich and an amazing pistachio and raspberry macaroon.
Then I made it to the Louvre! I had heard stories about how big the Louvre is, but didn't quite realize how big it is until I got there. I have a fairly good stamina for art and museums, but the Louvre is something different.
I tried walking through every gallery and almost made it. I studied many of these sculptures in collage and it was so cool to see many of them come to life. Some of my favorite sections were the Egyptian and Islamic sections along with the statute Winged Victory.
After going to the Louvre I was exhausted and decided to treat myself. I looked up a few places on Yelp and decided to try Sense.eat. All of the dishes were super interesting, but my favorite was the tiramisu I had for dessert. I love tiramisu and whenever I see it on a menu am always tempted to try it. This one did not disappoint!
On Tuesday, Taylor and I took the train to Giverny. During my time in Paris, there were lots of train strikes, so we had to be a bit flexible about when we left and came back. Even with the disruptions, I loved the train ride. Trains are my favorite way to travel. I freedom I feel when riding on a train and looking out the window as the landscape goes by.
When we got to Giverny, we rented bikes from a local bar and rode to Monet's gardens. It was a beautiful day and there were lots of other tourists and school gourds visiting.
We walked through Monet's house first, and I was surprised by the way it was decorated. Most rooms were painted a single color and decorated with furniture and artwork in that same color. I have never seen anything like it! I especially loved the kitchen and have been thinking about making some drawings and paintings of them over the summer.
After walking through the gardens, we decided to bike back to the train station. On the way, I realized I was hungry and that it'd be a while before we ate, so we stopped at a bakery to buy a baguette and a cheese shop to buy some cheese. The cheese shop also sold a few types of beer, so we each bought one. I was glad that we stopped to by the snacks, because once we got to the train station, we learned that our train would be delayed an hour!
On Wednesday, we took the train to the Musee d'Orsay. I loved seeing work by the Nabis painters. The painting above is by Maurice Denis and when I look at works like these, I try to imagine just how different they were during their time. I love the colors and the simplification of forms. There is something really spiritual about them.
In the afternoon, I went to Sennelier, a famous art supply store near The Seine, known for it's pigments and paints. Artists like Cézanne, Gauguin, and Picasso and van Gogh are known to have shopped there. I spend a while looking around the small shop and debating which supplies I wanted to try to bring back with me on my carry-on. In the end, I decided to keep it simple and buy a few colored pencils to draw with.
I continued walking along The Seine to Shakespeare and Company, an independent bookstore that sells books in English. I loved the quotes that were painted throughout the store and their policy of not selling straws in their café. After looking at children's books and in the poetry section for a while, and again debating how much I wanted to bring back on my carry-on, I bought The Book of Questions, by Pablo Neruda.
I ended the night by going to the Opera Bastille to see Romeo and Juliette.
On Thursday, I began the morning at Notre Dame. I had tried to go the day before, but learned that they’ve changed their ticket policy, and you have to reserve a spot using a kiosk in order to wait in line to buy a ticket. It sounds a little complicated, but once I got the hang of it, It was pretty useful. I reserved a 10:30am spot and then walked to Sainte Chapelle to look at the stained glass inside the nave, and then walked back to Notre Dame to wait in line.
Then I met up with Taylor and she took me to visit “the sandwich guy.” This guy has a stall called Miam Miam (yum yum) at Marche des Enfants Rouges and makes incredibly awesome sandwiches. We got an amazing vegetarian sandwich from him and went to a nearby park (Square du Temple) to eat.
After lunch, we walked to the Picasso Museum. I was excited to see their Guernica exhibit, but realized when I got there that the exhibit was about Guernica and that the original painting has been permanently installed in Madrid since 1992. The exhibit did share some interesting information about the process of the painting, including sketches and photographs of the work in progress, and artwork made by other artists inspired by Picasso's work, like this amazing detail of a woodcut that was over ten feet tall!
Later that night, we went to the Centre Pompidou. Taylor currently works there as a tour guide there and was able to show me the ins and outs of the museum. Sheila Hicks was having a show when I was there (that comes down soon), and I felt incredibly lucky to see it. I loved looking at her sketchbooks and watching the videos about her process. I love it when museums include information about an artists' process in an exhibition; it brings the work to life in a different way.
In the gallery next to the Sheila Hicks show, there was an exhibit by South African photographer David Goldblatt. I love all of the textures he was able to capture in this image.
After looking at the special exhibits, we went upstairs to the permanent collection. One of my favorite pieces was this painting by Ivan Pouni called The Red Violin. It reminds me of a flag or quilt or some other type of textile object.
The views from the balcony of the Pompidou are magnificent. The museum stays open late, so I would recommend going do that you can also see the sunset.
After all of that walking, we were hungry! For our last stop of the night, we took the metro north to Pink Flamingo, a hole in the wall pizza place. We ordered an eggplant pizza and they gave us a pink balloon. We walked to the Canal St. Martin to hang out and about 15 minutes later, a guy delivered our pizza to us at the canal! We got to eat outside and enjoy the beautiful weather.
On my last full day in Paris, Taylor taught me how to create cyanotypes. We painted the paper and canvas with dye the night before, and then exposed it in the morning. She had a bag of broken pieces of glass that she had used for a mosaics class, and I I used the broken pieces to create designs. I love the color of the dye as it begins to develop in the light. We went for a run around her neighborhood and then came back to rinse off the prints and stop them from exposing.
In the afternoon, I went to the Rodin Museum. This might have been my favorite museum to visit. It’s hard to pick a favorite museum in a city so filled with art, but there was something so nice about walking around a small, intimate museum. I also really loved a lot of the sculptures and the way they were contextualized by objects he collected. The gardens were also really peaceful and it was a great place to reflect on the awesome week I had.
I also loved this sketch of one of Rodin's sculptures that someone drew in the guest book.
I only made it to a small portion of the Pompidou's permanent collection, so I went back again on Friday night. On my second visit, I had a chance to see more of the contemporary artwork, including pieces by Jim Dine, Betrize Milhaze and Marta Minujin.
On Saturday morning, Taylor and I work up and walked to the bakery shop. During breakfast, I had an impromptu "studio visit" and we talked about her work. It's amazing to have artist friends that I have known for so long. It is so cool to see how Taylor's work has changed over the years and I am so impressed with what she is currently making and can't wait to see where she takes her work next.
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2020 Member's Prize Show
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February 11-April 30, 2020
124 Mt. Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA
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