An Amaizink journey Part 1🇫🇷
Angelica V. Newby
Amaizink Art & Design
To be the first to see my art work and support my journey feel free to check out my new Patreon Page!
1st week New York (1.5 days)
I arrive at my hotel, Hotel Pennsylvania right across the street from Madison Square Garden. I am hungry and ready to explore. Within two hours of arriving at my hotel, I am wandering around outside donning my Halaal wrap.
A black woman runs in through the crowded area of West 34th and 6th hollering, “There’s a man with a knife! He’s trying to stab people hurry!!”
A cop slow-runs at first through the crowd to try and find the culprit as other people walk or run in my direction. The crowd moved at different speeds but most of them walked slowly back toward the scene to witness what will happen.
A homeless man; young, black, mentally ill, shirtless and terrified had a gun pointed at him. Eventually, another cop showed up with a taser drawn. The man had no knife but he was wide-eyed and clearly having a psychotic episode. He had his arms raised, hands spread open while mouthing words as fear filled his eyes. It was hard to hear what he was saying but I’m sure he was begging for his life. He was pointed out by another fleeing white man and I was hoping it wasn’t just a scapegoat to blame another black person.
The cop with his gun drawn was pacing slowly, not speaking, as if looking for an opening as if he was itching to unload his gun. For a moment I thought I would witness another murder (another story for another time). This time in real life by a cop and not a haphazardly shared graphic video on social media. I turn around and start to walk away but part of me didn’t want to run. I didn’t want to close my eyes and pretend that I don’t know what was going to happen and I didn’t want to be re-traumatized before my journey to France.
However horrific the scene could have resulted in, I didn’t want to stop being brave. I needed to know if the man was going to live so I turn around and see him being tased and wrestled to the ground. There were mixed reactions from the crowd of horror, disgust and relief.
One young, white skater kid was shoved to the opposite sidewalk by the another cop, clearly upset at what happened to the unarmed man. A part of me appreciated that for a moment and then walked away as the same feeling of being unsafe crept up. I continued to walk but was wrestled down to a mood of awareness for the rest of the evening. It was my autopilot mode I internally invented for protecting my heart and mind—trauma breakdown averted, for now.
Later that evening, I continued exploring Times Square, walking along the offside streets and alleyways when I was tired of the sea of people that never seemed to stop swelling. The brownstone apartments reminded me of my father’s place I used to visit as a child in the Bedford Sty area in Brooklyn. I found a cute little gay bar filled with queens and gay boys and a couple of lesbians. It was happy hour and apparently Broadway musical night as random clips of plays and performances displayed on the large flat screen TVs. Video clips from older theater shows and contemporary musicals like Chicago, Hamilton and RENT were harmoniously sung along with by the happy queer crowd. As always, I enjoy the atmosphere in quiet adoration and move in and out of my wallflower mode.
Eventually, I to head back towards my hotel to rest but a conversation close by caught my ear. A very hip and classy looking trio were chatting away on the balcony about the new season and fashion collection they were working on, eager to connect I decide to strike up a conversation about collaborating with a unique designer like myself. We trade stories about living in California and trade contact information. I hope to speak again to these unique, artistic individuals for future collaboration.
½ Day New York (Garment District, Central Park & The MET Museum)
I walk around stopping in Mood Fabrics for Fashion & Home Décor and ended up connecting with the store manager there. I knew it was a great place to visit for doing research since the shop was featured on Project Runway. We talk for a few moments about my own interests in this market and he was willing to continue the conversation further at a later date about my work. After that meet and greet, I continue to the other fabric shops along the corridor.
As I walk, I film a clip for a video submission I’m working on for ‘The Power of She’ a women of color entrepreneurial incubator program I am apart of back in Sacramento. I hope to win the five-minute business pitch and receive the $1,000 award to continue expanding my design business and artsy dreams.
I walk roughly 30 blocks reaching Central Park, I was determined to make this a top visit on my trip since I have never been here before. I purchased a map and was explained by a guide all the things I could see, so I walked thru tunnels hearing a beautiful young violinist do a perfect rendition of the Game of Thrones opening theme music. I get chills and surge with nostalgia at hearing this perfect music and decided to share his Venmo on my IG to help raise money for his final year at a well-known music school. I continue walking through this beautiful park, through the Literary walk with large elm trees lined the path, where music players, artists and performers hang out. Then I reach the jewel of the park: The Bethesda Fountain.
After staring in awe at the fountain, my eyes move to the peaceful lake behind it where a few canoes slowly cut across the water. I sit on the bench nearby and watch the scene: it was a beautiful day I thought. Slowly I made my way out the park to the MET Museum, it was so crowded I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the exhibits and after a couple of hours, I make my way back to grab my luggage from the hotel.
A few hours later I go to the JKF airport and shoot another segment of video in front of a Dior shop there. I talk about shooting for the highest goal possible in my recording. I mention how important it is to constantly be creating and putting your best work out there. I mention receiving feedback from Christian Dior and how nerve-racking it was to construct and submit a proposal for collaboration. It has already been four months; the waiting part is the game.
You can see that advice video on my IG: @amaizink_art
Cont. 1st week: Paris, France (1.5 Days)
I arrive at CDG no issues at all and walk out the gate into the arrival area and I am greeted by my old best friend from college. Tim was a bean pole of a dude, super sweet and a talented chef, we were best friends in our college days and always talked about life, art, women, the future and traveling abroad. He was born in England and lived a lot of his life in St. Maarten, Caribbean and urged me to get my passport so I can come visit him several different times. So much time has passed I haven’t seen him 10-years. I was so happy to meet up with my old friend again. Tim met me at CDG with his partner Rhiann of who have been together for seven years! I loved hearing about his happiness with her and how they are each other’s life partners.
We spend the whole day talking, exploring, buying pastries and wandering the older neighborhoods of Paris just being a part of the Parisian experience while practicing our French and eating and smoking in the Cafes. We walked through the courtyard at The Louvre [they were closed so we couldn’t go in] and went to see the Moulin-Rouge inspired neighborhood, strolling along the Siene River to the Eiffel Tower. We walked through the hilly and colorful streets of Montmartre and then to the Steps of Sacre Coeur-Basilica; walked by the Arc de Triomphe.
By the end of the evening and much conversation, we sit down for dinner at a fine dining seafood restaurant. It was a fancy raw seafood bar with exaggerated plate setups. It was so tasty and I didn’t realize the seafood was so fresh some of them still wriggled a bit. Rhiann freaked out a bit and I for sure kept poking around but eventually we dived in. Now I know why the restaurant had the word ‘adventure’ in its title (ha-ha). We walk to another cafe for more smoke and drink and grabbed a delicious pizza to go back and chill at the Air BnB we rented. What a full and happy day.
Cont. 1st week: Chateau d’Orquevaux: Champagne Ardenne Area, Orquevaux, France
After a slight mistake, I had to catch a later train to Chaumont/Haute Marne station. I take the three-hour train ride journey from Gare d’Lest through the most beautiful countryside! It looks like a mix of California's Napa Valley and several shades of green; it was the most calming and loveable scenery.
I arrive at Chaumont Station and was picked up by Ziggy Attias, the owner of the property along with Veronika and Tatianna. We load up the car and travel through the tiny French countryside villages to the castle on the hill: The Chateau Orquevaux. We pull up to the main house and I enter and feel a very peaceful feeling; happy to finally have gotten here, relaxed and ready to create.
2nd Week Orquevuax, France
My day-to-day consists of waking up on the fourth-floor and looking out to a forest, farmland, the old church spire and houses made of bricks and cob peeking through the trees. My first task is to help prepare the dinner each evening and working with Chef Marie and her nephew. She would explain to me in broken English what the dishes were for the evening.
I responded in simple French; in return, equally broken English but we communicated successfully! It has been an awesome experience practicing a new language. Every evening we have candle lit dinners that made the dinner table light up as well as inspire beautiful conversations. I had the chance to speak with insightful and good-spirited women, all eager to share their thoughts care happiness with each other. Dinner each night was always full of food and full of love, laughter, shy moments and sarcasm.
A few mornings out of the week, I prepare breakfast: fresh pot of coffee and the express machine ready, boil exactly 12 eggs, set up plates and utensils, look to the left and say Bonjour Remi!
Remi is a jack-of-all-trades and an energetic French man who always smiled, laughed readily and helps take care of the property. He is a chef in the kitchen, tends to the animals, and various tasks around the area. He most beloved contribution is the fresh bread and croissants that he brings every morning with a smile.
The Artists at the Chateau
Many talented people of varying ages and backgrounds light up the Chateau. I met two beautifully spirited women from Australia, a shy woman from Hong Kong, a hilarious and active woman from Thailand, a cynical and tough Jewish woman from Brooklyn, NY and a dry-witted and sweet children illustrator from Portland, OR. I also met a very fancy Romanian fashion designer who held her confidence well, deep loving with a no-bullshit vibe about her; I really appreciated it. They all had great stories and views in life I can honestly say with every other character it was the best flowing energies between a large group of people.
By the end of the two weeks, I played with the goats with these people, swam in beautiful ponds and river streams (clothing optional), played community games, drank a lot of wine, laughed hard and explored the surrounding village area. We have attended to hikes and got drenched in the rain, even exploring nearby towns.
The highlight trip with the groups was when we went the CaphArts festival at old castle ruins in LaFouche village close by. It was an eclectic, old world to contemporary festival with music stages, food and wine. You can only get in with Fevre currency which consists of dried beans. There is a theatre show on the hillside and art installations and other things that were hard to describe.
My artistic process
In the first two weeks I started my research and planning for two large and one extra large canvas pieces. I learned from a few artists on how they do their process and the common theme was ‘completing’ a rough draft of what you want to create then move to the canvas. This was important for me as I continued the slower pace of approaching my work, studying different options, color scheming and even reading about 19th-century abstract artists.
While in the library I found a book called “The Spiritual in Art” Abstract Painting 1890-1985 (WHO WROTE THIS BOOK?) . The book has a lot of synchronic moments in terms of thoughts and feelings from artists like Arthur Dove, Kandinsky, Af Klint, Victor Hugo and poet Baudelaire. The most memorable moments from this books is how the artist were influenced by their spiritual beliefs, Theosophy and mysticism to create for the sake of creating and desires to stop painting classical art and even “contemplate something infinitely great and infinitely beautiful” what page was this on? in there new body of abstract work. I spent several hours reading and note taking from this book which continued to align with what I felt. There were more origin connections to my art style as I read on. I continued these thoughts as I reminisced a conversation about how I am creating from the words and feelings of my ancestors and even connections to other ancients. I will continue to experiment with new pattern styles, color themes and practicing with new mediums and ways of finishing my painting.
To be the first to see my art work and support my journey feel free to check out my new Patreon Page!