I’m a firm believer in “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” When my flight to New Orleans was cancelled a few weeks ago (you would think LaGuardia would have realized by now that New York is actually Narnia in the winter and prepare a little better for snow), I shed a few tears on the subway platform (because crying on the subway holds no shame and is acceptable, thank god) and I affirmed my day off for some stay-cation action (because that’s the lemonade part).
I decided to play tourist for a day and went on a guided tour at the Met. The 2 p.m. weekday Highlights of the Metropolitan Museum of Art tour group was comprised of a few elderly Europeans on vacation, an older couple on vacation in New York from Georgia whose flight home was delayed (you can bet we had a lot to talk about), a husband and wife in their sixties or so who knew enough about art to nod along and ask questions... and me.
Our tour guide was a very petite woman who ran us around the museum like a pack of Alaskan dogs. I could barely keep up with her, so there were a few times when I drifted away a bit and discovered something new.
We walked (really, raced) past a collection of four paintings that caught my attention, so I looped back around the museum to see them again at the end. And that’s what I want to share with you today!
At first impression, this series was a saccharine pink, gilded display of over the top shine set in a cotton candy world. So naturally, my first thought was, “How do I get that in my living room?!”
Each of the four paintings displayed a different New York scene: one focused on art museums, one the NYSE, another Fifth Avenue and the last Broadway.
This is the museum piece, Cathedrals of Art, which features landscapes of the Whitney, the Met and the Museum of Modern Art, alive with characters from the late ‘30s/early '40s art scene. It was painted in 1942 by Florine Stettheimer, and I discovered this about her on the Madame Pickwick art blog:
Around 1912 she revolted against all academic formalities and returned to the United States in 1914. From New York, she defined her unique vision which ran contrary to the prevalent high-mindedness of modern art. The wit, irony, and sense of outrage found in her work; her feminine projection and bohemian predispositions were deemed non-marketable by museums and galleries. Her success in evading any attempt to stylistically categorize her in a definitive fashion also contributed to limiting her appeal within establishment art circles. Her paintings were always ”unveiled” at private salon parties. At the same time, Stettheimer never exhibited after 1916 and made no effort to self promote. After her death, most of Stettheimer’s art was donated to museums who reluctantly accepted the works, then mothballed the paintings into storage.
Stettheimer unabashadly conveyed her femininity in her paintings. It was considered unique for a woman to joyously proclaim her gender on canvas particularly through the use of ”colorist” techniques.
The New York Times also features an annotated "Look Inside" the painting, and writes:
Stettheimer used the painting's composition to comment on women's participation in the art world, with her diaphanous female enablers looking on adoringly - or off to the sidelines - as the men dominate the action. "The women here are middlemen," said one of the exhibition's co-curators, Emily Braun.
So whether you see it that she gave up or carried on in defeat, I'm glad Stettheimer's work was brought to light after her death. We can always use a little more #GIRLBOSS action in the world.
Overall, I had the loveliest day off, from this to lunch with a friend, long talks at Automatic Slims and an off-Broadway show. When I collapsed on my bed at the end of the day, I realized I shouldn't need to have a bad day in order to do something a little extraordinary. While you can't take the day off every day and galavant around, it's easy to fit into your schedule things that inspire you, if you just make the time. It might mean a little less Netflix... but it's worth it.
Since I can’t steal this painting and put it in my living room, I pulled together this mood board inspired by it. (I’m currently on the hunt for an apartment and am preemptively decorating with the help of Pinterest.)
And it’s complete with a new "Make Lemonade Every Day" art print - free download below :)
Here's your "Make Lemonade Every Day" art print! It's an 8.5x11 print than can be scaled down to 8x10 or 4x5 should you prefer that. (If you need any help at all resizing this, please leave a comment below and I'll help.)
I hung this next to my mirror so I see it every morning and remember to make every day extraordinary, whether life gives me lemons or not.
Click below to print/download - enjoy!