Friday, February 24, 2017

Van Gogh and Tuschinski

July 15th, Van Gogh Museum and Tuschinski Theater,  Amsterdam

The included breakfast at our hotel is wonderful and we load our plates with slices of delicious Dutch cheeses, meats, fresh fruits and melt in your mouth pastries. The coffee is strong and ample and we are grateful that we do not need to search the streets of Amsterdam for the illusive, perfect cafe. During breakfast, I purchase online tickets to visit the Van Gogh Museum today and the Rijksmuseum, tomorrow. With prepaid tickets downloaded on my phone, we will be able to avoid the purchase ticket line and wait in just one queue at our scheduled entrance times. The morning is sunny and cool and we head to the train stop at the arena. Unfortunately, it is a 30 minute train ride into the medieval center of town. Row houses line the picturesque cobbled streets and we cross over several canals and pass through the red light district on our way to the museum district. The Red Light district is especially seedy and sad in the morning light. The gutters swim with slimy liquid and trash is everywhere. We notice several crews of morning sanitation workers doing their daily cleanup and a mini street sweeper car chugs along washing the gutters.

On our way to the museum district we stroll through the Jordaan district, popping into antique shops crammed with collectables. A window display of museum quality art nouveau jewelry catches our eye and the kind salesperson allows us to examine several of the enamel pieces. Two are Danish modern silver pins and although expensive, purchasing one of these is not beyond the realm of possibility. John and I, having just taken Merry-lee Rae’s cloisonn√© workshop inquire of an exquisite art nouveau gold and enamel neckpiece. It is not overpriced at $15,000 euros but beyond our means. Because of our interest in the Art Deco and Art Nouveau jewelry, the gallery curator tells us we must go see the Tuschinski Theatre, an architectural masterpiece of the Amsterdam School. We will stumble upon it later this afternoon and it is indeed fabulous!

Antique store in the Jordaan

Bicycles and Canals of Amsterdam

When we arrive at the museum district a crafts market is in full swing along the perimeter of a large park. There are about a hundred exhibitors and many of the booths have unique and indie style products. I am especially struck by a booth selling mini skirts made from vintage fabrics and I consider buying one for Alisha until I learn that the designer has an Etsy shop and that I will be able to show Alisha the fabric options and be certain of her size at a later time. Had the woman not had an Etsy shop, I would have bought one at the market and since I am writing this blog many months after our trip and have still not taken action to buy one, her having an Etsy shop was deterrent to me buying one at the time. This is an interesting concept to consider.

We enter the Van Gogh museum at our scheduled time, rent the audio guide headphones and spend nearly three hours at the exhibit. Many of the paintings are like visiting old friends but it is especially wonderful to see John so engaged in the art. Most interesting to me was a section about the psychiatric and medical state of Van Gogh and how his mental state affected his work and ultimately caused his death.

In the late afternoon we visit the Coster Diamond Factory. There a number of these diamond factories along one street and I surmise that all of them use the same formula. The factory is a sales tool for these diamond companies and I watch with fascination as the expert sales staff make quick evaluations to snare and pull in their catch of the tourist dollars. The expansive ‘factory’ is divided into many showrooms and most tourists follow a standard path, but there are tributaries where a more affluent or serious clientele are funneled into private rooms and treated to a red carpet experience; one on one with an expert sales person, high end diamonds and champagne. One exits through a low end gift shop where CZ’s are all that sparkles.

Marty, Coster Diamond Factory

Marty, Coster Diamond Factory

As we return through the park, there are several tents serving free vegetarian meals and we accept a bowl of vegetarian stew before realizing that it is a controversial event supporting an Israeli pro Palestinian movement.

Museum park district, Rijksmuseum
We walk back towards the medieval center of town and although we are not actually looking for the Tuschinski Theatre, we stumble across it and are jolted into the realization that this is the Theatre that we were told about earlier. The architecture is remarkable and alien; a unique version of Art Deco. We enter and examine the stained glass and interior details before starting our nightly routine of reading menus in search of the perfect restaurant.

Tuschinski Theater

Tuschinski Theater

Detail Tuschinski Theater

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