Me = Maddie (friend from Montana) = Jaap (a friend she met in Australia)
through Jaap I met: Kevin & Marco (his flatmates)
Me = Donovan Spaanstra (artist)
I had been to Amsterdam a few years ago with a Dutch friend, Ginger (boy), so I didn't feel the need to really play much of the role of tourist this time around. I wanted more authentic experiences.
The moment I tumbled out of the Centraal station in Amsterdam (it had been a very long, delayed, broken-down train, unexpected transfer sort of journey), I was met by Jaap and his bicycle. When he had said that he was to pick me up, I as a car driving American assumed he had meant in a car. I have an enormous backpack that easily weighs more than Kate Moss, so when Jaap told me to sit on the back of his bike and balance while he biked us to the flat, I was apprehensive to say the least. BUT I DID IT! I sat side-saddle and balanced over bumps and cobble-stone roads to the flat on Hazenstraat in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam. After settling into Jaap's room, he was kind enough to sleep on a mattress in the living room for my behalf, and learning the one rule to the room: No bringing men back to the room, we went to the park to meet some of his friends.
The following day, I wandered Amsterdam and began sketching at a canal when another artist, Donovan Spaanstra, came over to sketch with me. We spoke of the madness within ourselves, of love, of the pure joy that comes from living life. It's not often that you meet someone that you know understands the madness in your soul instantly. We spent the day talking of this-and-that, drawing, gathering new art supplies, and sipping on wine/beer. At the art supply store he bought me new pens so as to teach me a different drawing technique but had the gentleman behind the counter giftwrap them as they were intended as GIFTS. We had a jolly time pretending that it was my 91st birthday and that we had been dear friends for ages; the gift of pens was my birthday gift. I opened the package with feigned surprise. :)
I was met with such genuine generosity and amicability in Amsterdam. Kevin and Marco took me out to dinner because I'd been subsisting on Dutch cheese, rolls, and bananas. Everyone was really keen to get to know me and to speak with me. Amsterdam felt that it could have been home, as well.
I saw a few churches and an exhibition on Russian Orthodox art. I love stylized, religious art! I'm trying to think of how I can incorporate this into my own work.
Two things learned from the exhibition:
1)The Easter egg symbolizes the Holy Trinity.
2)Blue is Mary's color as it represents purity.
I made a split panel painting for Jaap's household with my signature continuous line faces, always falling from the sky, always without bodies.
Where is "home"? What makes any place "home" over another?
How does one "repay" generosity and hospitality to their host? Is it even necessary or is it a pay-it-forward sort of thing?