Paris in the Whitney: Scenes of a Love Affair

Garlands in Paris in the midst of a creativity series on the theme of Love. Today, I’m excited to introduce you to Sara, who reflected on this month's theme in New York City. Sara is one of the most creative and caring people I know, so I was excited to get her take on love in a museum. Here's Sara:

Bonjour! I’m Sara of Simply Sara Travel, my blog where I write about my adventures in Europe. I lived in Paris for three years and have recently moved back to the United States.

Leaving Paris was one of those adult decisions in life - it would have been easy to stay, but the best thing to do for my husband and me personally was to move back to the US. It was a classic “it’s not you, it’s me” moment between me and Paris.

As sharp as the sting of moving away from Paris is, getting the opportunity to live in Manhattan is pretty amazing. I had worked in the city but never lived here, commuting in daily from New Jersey. So since repatriating in June, my hubby and I have been energized to explore our new home with the same enthusiasm that we had when we were discovering Paris. We set off to the The Whitney Museum of American Art (which features art from 1900 - present) in its brand new building in the Meatpacking district which just opened this May.

Whitney Museum

We arrived with a mission. The challenge by Garlands in Paris was to experience a museum through the lens of July’s theme, love.

Challenge accepted.

I entered the museum wondering which angle of the broad “love” category would jump out at me. Would it be romantic love? A deep bond shared between friends?

I started looking for the typical signs of romance, but there were no scenes featuring Cupid to be found.  As I made my way around the museum, fresh from the long and difficult break-up with Paris, I realized that I kept seeing the City of Lights in every painting, even if in a mundane way. And so I’m going to write about my love affair with Paris, as seen through the art in the Whitney:

An industrial-looking painting echoed the iconic landmark of Paris, the Iron Lady herself.

NYC Eiffel Tower
Paris Eiffel Tower

This scene on a boat stirred memories of countless nights along the Seine, watching big boats full of tourists float down the river.

NYC Boat
Paris boats Seine

Only two people who have lived in France for some time would look at a sculpture of a snail and start excitedly reminiscing about the escargot we ate shortly before moving out of our apartment at one of our favorite bistrots, A La Biche Au Bois.

NYC Escargot
Paris Escargot

Even a painting that seemed so “American” evoked powerful inclinations of Paris. What could it possible remind us of? Our favorite bar, Red House, with its longhorn above the bar where fabulous cocktails are crafted.

NYC Red House
Paris Red House Bar

This painting made me simultaneously miss delicate French pastries like those of Café Pouchkine, yet be thankful to be back in the land of cake and pies.

NYC Pastry Painting
Paris Pastry

A painter at an easel? The image sent my mind immediately back to the streets of Montmartre to this square covered with artists selling their works.

NYC Painters
Paris Painters

Though some days I feel like I’m in the pint-of-ice-cream-and-movie phase of the aftermath of a relationship ended, I have to remember to notice the positive things about my new home. I got to get right up close and take a selfie with Mona in NYC without fighting tourists for 10 minutes for my photo opp.

Louvre Mona Lisa
NYC Mona Lisa

There’s a popular quote that goes: "If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they're yours; if they don't they never were." While this change is a good thing for me, I promised Paris that it’s going to have to try a lot harder to keep me away for long!

And with that, I wish the lovely Marina of Garlands in Paris a fabulous wedding in the City of Love! May you two grow old together (and hopefully smile more than the pictured couple) and enjoy a lifetime of amour and bonheur!

NYC Couple Painting

Have you ever fallen head over heels for a city, or place, before?

About the author: Sara traded her New Jersey bagels for French baguettes when she moved to Paris three years ago. Since the big move she’s learned a bit of French, has eaten more cheese in three years than the previous 25, and can now tie a scarf in 10 different ways. Now back on the East Coast, follow along as she continues to write about her experiences in Paris, adventures in France, and travels throughout Europe on her blog, Simply Sara Travel, and on Instagram, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest.

All photos courtesy of Sara.

This is an installment of Creative July on the theme of Love. If you missed it, check out a description of the project here