The Artful Life: NYC

More thriving. Less surviving.

The Artful Life: Defined

I’m Kelsey Leigh. Though I’ve spent the last two years living in New York City, I hail from Fredericksburg, Texas, a cute little town about 6o miles west of Austin. Fredericksburg’s population is approximately 12,000  (a little over half the population of Brooklyn Heights, the place I now call home). In other words, I’m a small town, southern girl at heart, living in a ginormous concrete metropolis in the North East. Culture shocimg_9318k is a real thing, guys.

Before I relocated to NYC to study art history and culture at The King’s College, I traveled and performed with a professional ballet company. We toured to cities all over the U.S. and around the globe; performing in tiny, unheard-of theaters in the boonies of Tennessee and overwhelmingly large theaters in Suzhou, China. Wherever we found ourselves performing, we usually had some pockets of free time to explore. I loved exploring the cities we visited. Most especially, I loved discovering the city’s art.  One of the most formative experiences with discovering local art happened in Beijing, China.

I had been cycling all around Beijing since sunrise with another member of the dance company. We mistakenly left our bikes at the front of the Forbidden City and were sluggishly making our way around its perimeter to retrieve the bicycles. I think at that point, all we wanted was a place to sit and catch our breath. And then we came across an open door on one of the side streets. It was a small art studio. The artist was sitting on a sort of stool behind a crude, wooden table. Slightly bald, but grinning widely, he motioned for us to come in. As every traveller knows, adventures begin by stepping over the threshold of known into the unknown. Willingly leaving the noise, dust and smog behind us, we crossed the threshold. This world was clear of distractions

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David the artist, Beijing, China

and glancing around, we both realized we had stepped not into an art studio, but into the mind of the artist. His work  filled every space the wall had to offer, and created an odd sort of furnishing for the floor as they were stacked in the corners. My friend and I pulled up two similar stools and sat opposite the artist who was steadily bringing a blooming branch into existence on the page. He spoke clear, distinct english with only the slightest bit of accent. Sharing brief introductions we realized we shared a common delight, that of creating and being inspired by beauty (He through paint and us through dance). Two hours and five purchased paintings later, we stepped out of that haven into the streets of Beijing, fully enriched in mind and soul.

After that experience, I made it a point to search out local art wherever we traveled and to keep my eyes and my mind open to see beauty in unexpected places. Now I find myself living in New York City, a central hub of the fine art community. I’m pursuing an undergraduate degree and life is hectic. I think being a New Yorker sometimes means you get stuck in a routine rut and forget about all the beauty this city has to offer. My love for the fine arts drives me to keep a vigilant eye out for all the unexpected places here in NYC to be enriched by artful experiences.

If you’re a New Yorker, artistically curious and pining for soul-enrichment, but museum-phobic, this blog is for you. If you’re planning a visit to New York City and don’t know where to begin when it comes to the art world here, this blog is also for you. I will give you tips on navigating the major art scene (including museums and galleries) and also direct you to many of the unusual and unexpected places where I’ve found beauty.

Beauty is all around us so won’t you join me in pursuing the artful life here in NYC?

{Kelsey Leigh}


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