So, my first morning in New Jersey with my friends, we decided to make the trek back into New York City and visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
I hadn't been to the Met in many, many years. Probably like ten years since my last visit - and for a place that has always provided me with inspiration and relaxation, that's ten years too long! I had wanted to go for a visit last fall when I was down in NYC for the About.com Guide event, but just couldn't make it in that weekend.
We hopped on a late morning train into NYC and then navigated the subway. I joked with Min Yee that I was too out of shape to keep up with her. It was all I could do to keep her bobbing pony tail in my sight as she raced up and down the streets of Manhattan toward the museum!
Almost the first thing we saw was this case full of ancient Egyptian beads. It still boggles my mind how these tiny, carefully and skillfully crafted bits of sand, stone and glass have survived for thousands and thousands of years.
Stunning, aren't they?
Then we decided to go spend some time in the Asian arts wing. We spent a couple of hours admiring the insanely beautiful and quiet art of China, Japan, Tibet and India. The sculptures and statues of the Buddha in all his many forms were very inspiring and soothing for me.
Here is Min Yee, hugging a post of Nan wood in the beautiful Chinese courtyard installation.
And I totally fell in love with these doors, leading into the interior of a traditional Chinese house. They just looked so soothing and inviting with the warm wood, the carved-out lattice work and the light falling gently onto the stone floor beneath our feet.
There were a series of lattice work windows all around the installation, and we got the idea of translating them into beading patterns for netting and right-angle weave - perfect for all those new Twin seed beads I just got from Sparkle Spot Bead Shop! (In all my free time, right? But these should work up quickly, so maybe I'll at least have the basics down before Christmas!)
Then we took a photo of this intricate carved rosewood roof on the way up to the galleries with the art of Bhutan and Tibet. The light was poor, and flash photography isn't allowed in the galleries, so this was the best we could do with my little Nikon point-n-shoot.
The craftsmanship of these types of installations just thrills me. I can imagine the craftsman at work, lying on his back, looking up at his work, patiently carving out each figure and pattern from the wood.
There were more things that we saw, but unfortunately, photography wasn't allowed. I can only say that I finally got to see the famous Met Nativity Scene live, in person and up close and it was as every bit as amazing as I had expected it to be; I found myself breathless at the sight of two 17th century Japanese kimonos that were embroidered with silk and precious metal threads; and the European decorative arts wing with all of the elaborate Baroque furniture was just as gorgeous as I remembered it.
We had long talks about the differences between Eastern and Western religious art and the differences and similarities between Chinese and Japanese art and culture.
And the sushi in the cafeteria wasn't half-bad, either!
On the way home, we took a "slight detour" (according to Min Yee, who could qualify as an Olympic marathon speed-walker) and went to see the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. I need to figure out how to get the photo off of my phone, but we got there just as a show at Radio City Music Hall was letting out and the streets were packed with people and cars and police officers. The crowd at the Christmas tree was incredible - I don't think I've seen that many people in the same place at the same time since my first rock concert back in 1991.
I was absolutely exhausted when we got home, but a hot shower, a hot meal and some decent sleep had me recharged and ready to go the next day when we met up with Lisa Peters of Lisa Peters Art and did some serious bead shopping in the fashion district!