art · COVID-19 · new york · slice of life

Transported Back to New York City

Even when I lived in DC or Rhode Island, I always found myself in Manhattan at least every six months. (More like every three months, but let’s say six — just to be safe.) However, I haven’t been to Manhattan since December 2018!

The first part of 2019 was about building a house and moving. I was supposed to go to Manhattan twice in late 2019: once for our wedding anniversary and once for Isabelle’s birthday. Neither trip happened after I broke my ankle. Surely, a few months after foot surgery I’d be able to go to Manhattan. WRONG! Two weeks into my recovery the world shut down due to COVID-19. Therefore, here I am, almost 30 months removed from my beloved Manhattan. I’m not going to lie… it’s hard. There’s something about that loud, overcrowded, filthy place that I miss!

Recently, I learned some of the city’s art museums offer virtual art classes for kids so I’ve signed Isabelle up for some. This past weekend, I took one, “Open Studio From Home: Jay DeFeo” with Isabelle. I realize it was meant for kids, but since it was a webinar I didn’t think I’d embarrass Isabelle by sitting beside her.

I was unfamiliar with DeFeo’s “The Rose,” which the museum educator taught us about during the first part of the class. I found it fascinating that DeFeo spent eight years working on this painting, which is sculpture-like. After learning about “The Rose,” we had the chance to create our own works of art, inspired by “The Rose.” First, we brainstormed memories and an image to represent the memory. Then, we were given some time to sketch. Afterwards, we learned how to create secret doors atop our pictures that would contain the details of our memory/story.

I chose to capture a hot dog, which represented times I visited Nathan’s in Coney Island with my father as a kid. Isabelle decided to draw a butterfly to represent one of our visits to Hershey Gardens.


While neither of us did our best writing inside of our secret doors, I will say we learned about a new process, which connected to “The Rose,” an artwork that contains layers of secrets (including, but not limited to stubbed-out cigarettes inside the paint) to the artwork we created. Isabelle and I agreed we could try this technique of creating secret doors atop a piece of artwork about a memory in the future.

I long to get back to Manhattan. (I’ll go after the kids are fully vaccinated!) Once I do, I cannot wait to get to some museums! Until then, I might just tag along at a few more virtual programs.

Head over to Two Writing Teachers for more slice of life stories.

6 thoughts on “Transported Back to New York City

  1. So much I love about this post. Mother and daughter together. Finding a way to experience art! Creating art! And all connected to writing. So glad you included photos. I too miss NYC and felt my eyes welling up as I took in the illustrations in Milo Imagines the World. Christian Robinson captures the subway ride so well! (I wrote about this read-aloud today!) Here’s another museum to check out in my neighborhood – Planet Word Museum in DC. It opened during Covid and I will visit it as soon as school. I have explored it online. I know you and your kids will love all the interactive displays, all celebrating WORDS!! https://planetwordmuseum.org/

  2. Your post makes me think of all the EventBrite sessions I have attended since I have missed traveling in real time. I go online and get free tickets – I’ve been through the streets of Picasso’s Barcelona and down the back alleys of book clubs discussing the danish concepts of happiness. Yes, yes, yes to real time travel…..but until then, thank God for EventBrite and other virtual platforms to connect and dream.

  3. I’m not sure which thing to write about first!
    I haven’t been to NYC since 1998! I used to try to coerce someone into going with me at least once a year, but I haven’t been back since moving to Canada. I was going to take my daughter for her 10th birthday, but a pandemic ruined that plan. Maybe we’ll make it there for her 12th!

    I love this writing/art project too. It looks like a really fun thing my class could do online. They have hated writing at home, so it might be just the trick to get them excited about some writing.

  4. First of all? I am TOTALLY stealing this “secret door” idea. I have kids who love to start from the visual. This would be a great way to get them crafting! This idea about adding LITERAL layers to our work is so intriguing. I’m also trying to wrap my head around spending eight years on a single painting. The amount of sheer stamina that takes is incredible (although…who knows? Maybe it’s also perfectionism at work).

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