Sunday, October 25, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

The past week was challenging at work and at home. The shop was very, very busy. I also learned that I have a bit of osteoporosis. I found it difficult to reach a comfortable level of free time.

Therefore, what a pleasure to wake up on this day off, without any beep from the alarm clock, and to realize that last night's thunderstorms had left this city with a clear blue sky.

This was a good day for a long walk. Central Park continues to show its transition to autumn colors, little by little.
My destination was a glorious cultural institution, Japan Society, that's located way over on the East side near the United Nations. The last time I visited Japan Society was many years ago, to see a Noh theatre performance. Today's goal was to see an exhibit of the textile designs of a Japanese national treasure, Serizawa.
As I had expected, there were very few other visitors at the time I arrived, and so I joined a group of six folks for a tour of this exhibit given by an excellent museum docent. He was British, spoke Japanese, and clearly was very enthusiastic about his subject, and delighted to find us a receptive audience. I usually steer clear of museum tour groups; today's experience makes me question that pattern.

The exhibit truly covered more than textile design, since Serizawa was a master of stencil art. The graphic design and colors involved in the many items on display were dazzling in their elegance, wit, communication, colorways, delicacy and boldness and variety. The way in which the designs bridged tradition and modernity was remarkable. It really is quite a show, and one that I will remember. I want to do a bit more research about this artist and also about the entire medium in which he worked.

It can be so inspiring to see something creative that is far different than anything you have previously know about ... and yet to feel instantly drawn to it. That is the feeling that I had this afternoon.

As I left the gallery rooms that had housed the exhibit, I happened upon another amazing show. Apparently the museum was also being used this afternoon for a gathering of Japanese families who were presenting their little girls in full kimono regalia. The girls were about five or six years old and so beautiful in their finery. Lots of photographing was going on. I felt that I would be intruding if I took out my own camera. It was very difficult to keep my recording totally in my mind's eye.

It was still quite early when I left the museum, and the day was gorgeous. And so I took a bus for a bit of my return journey, but then did another short detour through the Park. The scene below is just at the southern end of the Park. The tranquility of the view helped me hold on to the beauty of the exhibit.

I also managed a few errands before returning home, and then sat down to experiment with a bit of crocheting, just to continue the quiet, restful spell of the day. It is unusual for me to work with mohair, and I had forgotten that I had this skein of frothy pale ivory mohair/wool. I am playing around with a stitch called string of hearts. It will eventually be a twisty, textured, lightweight strand, that might be wrapped round and round to make a scarf. I surely do hope that the mohair bit won't prove scratchy.

I have also done a few sketches this afternoon in preparation for my annual Christmas card project. I think that I might have incorporated some of Serizawa's vocabulary into my card design. Since I will also have tomorrow as a day off, I'm hoping to pursue creative activities during much of the day, aside from the time I will have to devote to yet another doctor's appointment, and a visit to the dentist.

As we head towards Halloween, I do want to send lots of wishes to all you spirits around the world for a delightful holiday.


  1. I'm so happy you are thoroughly enjoying your days off.. Your pictures are beautiful as always and I look forward to seeing your "String of Hearts" finished.. It looks lovely.. Curious as to whether it will be scratchy also.. My sister always has the greatest luck of finding the softest yarns to work with..
    Another wonderful post.. Thank you.

  2. What a wonderful day off you had. A chance to refresh your energies and take a well deserved pause. I love learning about something that I just hadn't been exposed to before- there is so much out there to see and experience.

    I love mohair and can't possibly wear it against my skin in a sweater but as a scarf or outer garment- it's fine. Your project looks intriguing.

    Take care at the doctor's and dentist's and then you'll be done with them for a while.

    Your view of the water and trees in the park look as if they could be in the middle of the countryside- just lovely.

  3. Greetings from Southern California. I am a new visitor to your blog; I just came over from Merisi's comments page. Just want to say I have enjoyed browsing a bit through your posts and enjoying your views of NYC and also your thoughts and reflections. And I do love that little painting you did for the birthday card for the August born person...really, really love it. The colors and the design and all those lovely dots of paint! Maybe because I am an August-born person chose wonderful colors.

    Anyway, I hope to come back again and visit.

    Your visit to the Japan Society sounds so delightful...

  4. I would have loved to go to that exhibition with you. We could have ooohd and aaahhd together!
    Looks fascinating.

  5. I love your expression 'a comfortable level of free time'. For me, at the moment, that would be at least a week of every month left to my own devices. Your Christmas card plans have made me think of my own. Something to look forward to on these dark winter nights.

  6. Hi Frances, what a lovely Monday morning treat to find you had blogged. Sorry to hear about the osteoporosis - look after yourself. I do enjoy your visits to places and whilst I was very interested to read about the exhibition, I loved the thought of those little girls in their finery!

  7. It sounds absolutely wonderful, I do love hearin waht you are up to over there! suzie. x

  8. Hi Frances - such a lovely post that reminded me about the exhibition I saw at the British Museum in July 2007 called 'Crafting Beauty in Modern Japan' which was jaw-dropping in its fabulousness. There are some pictures here: (there are 8 that you can click through on the right side) although I'm not sure that you'll be able to see them in NY.

  9. Frances, I have a picture in my mind of you watching the little girls in their kimonos, and itching to take out your camera! It must have been a wonderful way to finish your visit.
    So sorry to hear`about the osteosporosis, there are natural remedies which can help, I believe.

  10. Hello Frances

    You are a beacon of culture and sensitivity in an increasingly coarse and demotic world. I always feel rather grubby when I see that you've visited my rather oafish site. Oh, and you've taught me a new word ("docent"0

    Best wishes


  11. The day you have described sounds delightful, as does the following Frances. I was really intrigued to read of the little girls being presented in kimonos. I have been trying to imagine the fabrics and colours of their outfits.

    Your crochet looks delicate, soft and beautiful.

  12. What a shame you couldn't access the Daily Telegraph website. I'll tell you what I'll do though, I bought the exhibition catalogue and sometime over the next few days I'll do a post about the exhibition with pictures from it, and probably link it to a PurpleCoo Art Club forum posting as well. I had completely forgotten about this exhibition until you mentioned the one you saw and it's reminded me of just how totally blown away I was by it, so I think I need to 'revisit' it again!

  13. I love your walks and pictures Frances. Sorry to hear about the arthritis and hope you are taking care of yourself. x

  14. How serene Central Park looks in your photographs - hard to imagine it is actually in the middle of the city, somewhere to find a little peace and quiet.

    Enjoy your free time.

  15. That mohair/wool looks so lovely! Makes me want to give mohair a go next time I knit or crochet something... which will be a while yet, as I have a long way to go with my knitted/crocheted blanket!

    Thank you for your always so lovely comments in my blog. When ever I see the pretty blue and white teacup in the comments section I know I am in for a treat!

  16. that sounds like a perfect day, a mix of outdoor, cultural and indoor pursuits, with something new, an old favourite and a gentle stroll.
    I wish you had been able to take photographs of the little girls but I understand about your sensibilties getting in the way.

    it's lovely to hear from you and I hope your visits to dentist and doctor prove to be routine and harmless.

  17. Ah it is so good to visit you again Frances and this post is another perfect one to read. You have such treasures to see in New York, just the place for an artistic soul like yours. You are so talented.
    Another friend of mine has also just been diagnosed with osteoporosis, take very good care of yourself.

  18. Happy pumpkins to you as well, Frances. We have been asked to dinner on 31st and I am debating whether to go as the wicked witch of the West, not that I can really talk about West on your 3000 mile further west than me blog. So the West part may have to be dropped. In fact the whole thing may have to be dropped as I doubt whether anyone else will dress for the occasion. Do they have witches in Central Park? You'd get rather a shock I suppose if you came round one of those corners and found a bubbling cauldron and hags among the crags intoning - 'when shall we three meet again.'

  19. Hi Frances - as promised I've done a blog posting about the Crafting Beauty in Modern Japan exhibition, complete with a few pictures!

  20. Olá amiga!
    Conheci seu cantinho... lindo, criativo, alegre, aconchegante.
    Amei mesmo!!!
    Parabéns pelo seu trabalho!
    Espero você em:
    Beijinhos carinhosos.
    Itabira - Brasil

  21. What a lovely blog! We have visited NNYC a few times (we are in CT) and my little boy loves riding the train in. The exhibit at the Japan Society sounds interesting, and a great docent can make all of the difference!

  22. Lovely calm post Frances - you always seem to me to be so serene so imagining you in a museum at an exhibition of Japanese work seems so apt.
    Aren't the trees a beautiful colour just now.
    Love the picture of your crochet and looking forward to a peek of your christmas card designs.

  23. What a lovely post you have given us dear Frances. So wish I could have been there with you to the visit to the Exhibition of Japanese Art Work.

    I would love to own a scarf of Ivory Mohair, and Ivory is a favourite colour of mine, you are wonderfully talented Frances.

    So sorry to hear about the Osteoporosis Frances, please do take care.

    Wonderful pictures you have shared with us of Central Park, thank you Frances.


  24. What a wonderfully satisfying time that seems, Frances. You pack more into your precious days off than many people accomplish in weeks. I look forward to getting a peek at your Christmas card painting, and to seeing the completed scarf.

  25. I am amazed at the intricacy of your crochet, with such a tiny hook and all that fluffiness! I do believe you are right about my scarf, it is crocheted rather than knitted - but then, I am 'nit wit' about such things. :)