Thursday, March 29, 2012

Finders Keepers

When I moved to New York, I was poorita. I was starting to build a life and a home from scratch, I barely had enough funds, and NY is a friggin' expensive city. Good thing I had friends who took me under their wings and helped me out. Special mention goes to good friend and jewelry designer Happy David, my thrifty partner-in-crime. Happy and I would always call each other whenever there were any deals to be had, whether it was $20 Broadway tickets on sale in school that you had to line up for hours in advance, free breakfast for commuters, or an opportunity to have free coffee, and take home the delicious cookies that FIT serves. It's only fitting that, on my first week, Happy invited me to sleep over for a few days so she could show me around the city, and my soon-to-be-school (she was on her last semester of Jewelry Design also at the Fashion Institute of Technology). On one of those school tours, we chanced upon a huge garbage bin overflowing with discarded art, rejects from the art students who took classes on that floor. Never ones to miss a good freebie, Happy and I gleefully rummaged through the heaping pile, pulling out one canvas after the other until we finally had to reign ourselves in after realizing we couldn't possibly carry everything home!

My beautiful find

Most people wouldn't even give this pile a second glance

But Happy makes a beeline for it and immediately finds an eye-catching piece of art
I think I was on the phone with Pat

The big tapestry, made of strips of painted canvas

But carry them home we did! Our total loot was four big canvas paintings and a ginormous canvas tapestry that was so heavy, it felt like lugging around a living room carpet. We walked up Seventh Avenue that day, taking great pains to avoid sideswiping fellow pedestrians, then hopped on a bus to the nearest subway. Even the bus ride was a bit of a nightmare as the canvases took up a lot of space and embarking and disembarking was no mean feat. I took home two paintings that day, and had to walk an additional 20 minutes from the subway to my apartment. Oh and did I mention it was the dead of winter? As Happy succinctly said when she saw these photos, we looked like bag ladies!

Waiting for the M16 bus

Posing near Madison Square Garden

Loaded and ready to go!

My other take home. I love the blue swirls.

This is the story behind my favorite piece of art. Today it hangs on the wall above our bed, contrasting nicely against the teal blue walls of our bedroom. I kept it when we moved apartments in Brooklyn (the other one got left behind), occupying a prominent spot in our new riverside Williamsburg rental. I packed it up nice and tight in bubble wrap so it could travel safely to Manila when we moved again. And I believe I'll still be transporting it across oceans if and when we move again. It's not that it's commercially valuable—I don't even know who made it as it has no signature. I was originally attracted to it because I loved the soothing swirls of purples and blues that remind me of mountains and oceans. I think my boyfriend doesn't really understand it but he humors me because he knows I like it. But now, whenever I look at that painting, I am reminded of my time in New York, of the struggle to get there, of the craziness of living there, and of all the happy, sad, wacky, and fond memories I have of that place. There's treasure in trash, they say. And this particular piece is priceless. 

The painting in our Williamsburg apartment. That's me in my favorite spot to work and study. Grabbed this from my friend, Mariel's blog, NY Minute Now.  
Finally, home.


  1. Beautiful. That's a beautiful post <3

  2. Thanks Tara! It's one of my fondest memories of the city :)

  3. Love your post Kat!! Reminds me of the time we lugged home a big Ikea print from Hong Kong. We had to walk a long way, plus subway, plus airplane home. Not to mention, avoiding bumping into people along the way! I'm surprised you still had time to take pictures haha! But totoo nga, it's a nice feeling bringing home something you fell in love with :) You will love Art in the Park in Salcedo!!! Lots of new artists there, so artworks are still affordable!

  4. Hey Jen, yeah more often than not, it's the story behind the art that makes it precious. I've seen photos of Art in the Park (they might be yours, on Instagram!) and I really want to go! I think it's only once a year though, am I right? Sayang I missed it this year!


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