“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” - Robert Louis Stevenson
The word souvenir conjures up visions of cheap Eiffel Tower key-chains and "I Heart NY" t-shirts and gaudy Cancun shot glasses. Linguistically though, souvenir comes from the French verb "to remember," a much more lovely notion than its modern consumerist meaning.
While I hope that my mind will always guard the precious details of all my adventures, I do often tote back an object that will help me remember a great trip. Most often that object is a small painting.
In the eighteenth century when groups of wealthy young Northern Europeans flocked to Italy on the Grand Tour, often they would return with a veduta (a view), a detailed painting of the cities they visited. While I cannot return from my trips with a Canaletto in tow like those eighteenth-century British gents, I do aspire to adopt a similar travel practice, even if on a far more modest budget.
As soon as I touch down in a new city, I am in pursuit of local street-based artists, purveyors of watercolors and small artworks. I make it a habit to return from my journeys with at least one original artwork that speaks to the flavor of that location. When searching out a new work, I look for the folks with paint under their nails, with easels propped haphazardly on the sidewalk, painting while they wait.
When I return from my trip, I delight in grouping my newest art acquisition with the others from my previous travels. Now, when I look around my apartment, with each glance, I am reminded of Florence's Piazza Santa Croce or Paris' Pont Neuf or the Bund in Shanghai. Perhaps more than the artworks themselves, I so treasure the memories that each one carries.Photos by moi (forgive the awkward glare of the glass). Paintings acquired from local artists in Paris, Florence, Barcelona, Shanghai & Beijing.
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