My Artist Date: New York City and The Cloisters


Yesterday I wrote about the Artist’s Date, one of Julia Cameron’s tools for nurturing creativity. The artist date is a solitary adventure designed to nourish your artistic soul and expand your horizons. (If you missed my post yesterday, here’s a link to Julia’s website and info on artist dates —

On Wednesday, I went on my best ever artist’s date. I left my east-end Long Island home at 6:45 AM and caught a 7:30 AM train to New York City. From Penn Station I transferred to a 35-minute subway ride, where my goal was the visit The Cloisters. The directions are very poorly marked and, thanks to a couple of friendly New Yorkers, I finally found my way to the adjacent park.

The Cloisters is a museum owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It overlooks the Hudson River (it’s on a major cliff), and is a beautiful combination of gardens and medieval architecture. I am working on a stained glass quilt, and my goal was to get inspired by their stained glass windows. I also wanted to gather photos for future quilts and blog posts.

The gardens were empty and beautiful. I immediately reached for my camera and realize that I’ve left the battery in the charger at home. Not a great start!

I’m not a great history buff, unless it’s quilt-related, but I couldn’t help but be impressed with tapestries that were from the 1400’s. The museum had artifacts dating back to the 800’s. I imagine it was like being in a monestery 500 years ago; I felt an odd mix of peace and reverence. Except I was still mad that I’d forgotten my camera battery!

I was not repeating the walk to the 190th Street subway station, so caught the bus in front of the Cloisters. I decided to ride the bus down 5th Avenue to Times Square — approximately 150 blocks. The ride took 90 minutes and it was exhilarating. I saw areas of New York I’d only read about (Barnard College, hospitals, cathedrals, the Guggenheim, the entire length of Central Park). Being that I was on a bus, I was above the traffic and got excellent views.

My next stop was the Disney Store in Times Square. I’ve been making Tshirt quilts and needed some more fairy princess shirts to add to my collection. I have been to Times Square several times, so it’s lights and energy were not a surprise. As a tourist, you need to make a stop there. I have never found it not to be insanely busy, which I think is part of its charm!

Next, I caught the subway to City Quilter. This is one of my favorite stores and I visit it whenever I’m in NYC. I had several projects that needed fabric and probably spent 2 hours finding what I needed. City Quilter staff are friendly and helpful. Unlike many quilt stores that have one or two staff, City Quilter always seems to have at least five people on the floor. They also offer a 10% discount if you have a guild card.

My final stop was the Wall Street stop in the financial district, where I was meeting up with a friend who was visiting NYC. I had to change subway trains, and managed to get lost looking for her hotel. However, once again thanks to friendly New Yorkers — I found my way.

(I’d just like to say that I find New Yorkers to be incredibly helpful. On several occasions, I’ve just looked lost and people have come over to volunteer directions. The nice lady near the Cloisters subway stop, who was on her way to work, actually took a little side tour to make sure that I found my way.)

I made it back to my home at 11:00 PM. I was exhilarated. I’d navigated the New York subway system for the first time. I’d been inspired by architecture and artifacts. I had enough quilt fabric to finish several projects. And I’d enjoyed an evening with a friend.

I admit that this is a very ambitious artist’s date. Any part of this trip would suffice — a museum visit, a hike through a park, or a browse through a quilt store. But the overall effect was a complete success — it nourished my soul and expanded my horizon. Julia Cameron would be proud of me!


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