Friday, March 29, 2013

California, Part 1: Sausalito

 Belvedere Island in the San Francisco Bay

Two weeks ago I left behind a snowstorm and plunging temperatures at home in France and flew to San Francisco. My favorite time of year in the Bay Area has always been the spring, which over there starts very early. The hills were still green, the temperatures were just right and the sky a bright blue.  While over much of the rest of the hemisphere it is chilly and the trees are still barren, in Northern California flowers are beginning to bloom and people are pulling on their shorts and sandals.

 Beautiful flowering hedge on the wharf in Sausalito

I spent my time with friends and family and took many photos, so I will blog about my trip over several weeks. I am back at home again, after a really lovely time. Here we are still having the most severe spring in 50 years. We have a roaring fire going downstairs to ward off the chill. No gardening is possible as yet.

My adorable little sister Liz sent me a plane ticket for my birthday. We hadn't seen each other for seven years! I spent a lot of time with her and her girlfriend Rene at their beautiful house in Sebastopol.  The first day I was there she took me on a drive to Sausalito to visit my good friend Amy.

Me and my sister

Sausalito is a wonderful first impression for a California visit. It's a bit like a dream. For one thing, it's one of the most expensive places to live in the whole world. It is also one of the most beautiful locations, right up there with Portofino or Monaco. A wonderful place to visit, but I'll never be able to live there!

San Francisco as seen across the bay from Sausalito

Amy, on the other hand, is fortunate enough to have inherited an art studio right on the water. Her husband's step-father, Walter Kuhlman, was an important and prolific San Francisco artist. You may not have heard of him, since like so many other artists, he was not good at self-promotion. Amy, who has devoted the last five years to promoting and selling the enormous collection of paintings and prints he left behind in his fantastic Sausalito studio, has insured his legacy and introduced him to collectors all over the world. His reputation is safe in her very competent hands. I have, of course, heard about Walter from Amy for years and seen some of his work in person, but I had never been to the studio. It was a huge treat for me.

Amy in the studio

Walter was an Abstract Expressionist who went through several creative phases in his very productive artistic life. The painting below is one of my favorites, not from his abstract period. It is called Tiger Tiger, inspired by William Blake's poem.  Even as a small reproduction (this is a very large painting), one can see what a master of color the artist was. This painting is owned by a Sausalito politician, and it hangs in her house. Lucky laldy!

Tiger Tiger, burning bright

I was somewhat blown away by the range and number of the works of art in the studio, especially since Amy has sold most of them already and many are in galleries in New York and San Francisco.

My sister and Rene were gobsmacked as well. We had such a pleasant time looking through the many monotypes there. I was definitely inspired and motivated.


After a very delicious lunch on the Bay at a restaurant called Fish, we were pleased to discover that Amy had an appointment to deliver a painting to one of her Sausalito clients who lives in a Victorian house in the hills. She invited us to come along and we jumped at the chance.

For one thing the views from these homes in the hills above the Bay are breathtaking. For another, the opportunity to see inside one of these glamorous homes is a rare treat indeed. Besides which, this particular client owns at least twenty-five of Walter's works as well as several other extraordinary works of art. It was the opportunity to see a lot of great art in situ.

Amy's client was generous enough to allow us to walk through her entire place, which really is like an art gallery, and view all the paintings and prints she has purchased from Amy and others.

After we descended back into town, we took a walk along the wharf, had a cup of coffee at a pleasant sidewalk cafe and then bid farewell. What a wonderful first day!


  1. happy to know you are safe back Nancy and that everything went good ! I think, as I said previously, it must be strange to go back to the country where you spent many years and still sa, arriving in France, I am back !
    Seem you are very lucky to have these opportunities of going along with artists and in such wonderful places. How do you find Montmirail after San Francisco ?