An Artist’s Journal: Iceland

A few first impressions:

  • March is winter. It’s not “almost spring.” It’s winter. It’s cold.
  • People are outside anyway. If you’re cold, that’s what wool sweaters and hats and gloves and scarves and wool socks and boots are for.
  • It’s hot inside. Iceland sits atop the largest geothermal cache in the world. Volcanic eruptions are still growing this place. The heat works. Lots of people have open windows on the coldest days. Open. Windows. 17F wind-chill. The windows are open.
  • The windows sport little treasures on the sills. Every window seems to announce the tenants’ personality with small statues of mythical people or tchotchkes. It’s charming.
  • There is outdoor seating at some causal restaurants and street food vendors. People sit down and eat. In the cold. It feels good to see the sun.
  • The language is hard to learn. America mouths don’t work that way. If you try to say an Icelandic word, the people — who are kind already — will beam and help you out. It doesn’t take long to learn how to pronounce these words.
  • It’s cold. The wind is biting.
  • It’s beautiful. Words elude me, but my head is bursting with art inspiration. Stay tuned.
  • There are museums everywhere. And bookstores. This is a literate place.
  • Not everyone speaks English, but most do. Our taxi driver didn’t. Pantomime works fine the rest of the time.
  • It’s expensive. Just don’t mention it. Everything is dear here – except heat – because everything is imported. Everything. Pay it or move on. Complaining about it makes you look ungrateful… or American. But if you mess up on the conversion — which I do constantly – they will confirm that you understand your purchase. I’m grateful to the wait staff at the restaurant tonight who sensed I mistook a $90 bottle of wine for a $9 glass of wine. Since my daughter Hammy and I were splitting an entree, she seemed to know that we weren’t planning on downing a bottle that costs three times as much as the stuffed cannelloni.
  • There is no $9 glass of wine.
  • There is a local beer made of whale testicles. I’m not trying that.
  • Nobody eats the fermented (rotten) shark that Iceland is famous for. It’s here to make fun of the tourists. The locals enjoy a laugh.
  • The wind can knock you over.
  • Feminism reigns. The men are not threatened by it.
  • Art is EVERYWHERE, which comes to the purpose of the trip.
  • The city is old and new. The touristy spots are not.
  • The land is fragile and Icelanders know it. Agree to protect it or don’t come. They are not messing around. Bring a water bottle and a reusable bag.
  • The streets of Reykjavik are filled with people all day, all night. This is the largest group of cold people I’ve ever seen – or been a part of. And it’s fine.

About jeanevogelart

Art saves lives. That's my mantra and my motivation. My primary purpose as an artist is to inspire, entertain, make you smile, make you mad, make you think or recall a memory. I strive for work that is intimate and genuine, and sometimes whimsical. It's always more than a "pretty picture." I demand a relationship.
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2 Responses to An Artist’s Journal: Iceland

  1. rmezoff says:

    I love this post! I have a tapestry artist friend who spends several months in the north of the country every year in Blonduos doing artist residencies. Her husband did try the shark. But he also made a fast friend out of a fisherman… and I think there was a lot of alcohol involved.

    • I think any story that involves two men and a shark MUST involved alcohol! The artist residencies in the north sound wonderful. You must join her some year. Interestingly, I think the landscape here resembles New Mexico quite a lot. I seem so many similarities in vastly different ecosystems and climates. Thanks for the comment, Rebecca.

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