One of the highlights of my weekend in Napa Valley with the cousins was a meal at Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena. The menu looks simple enough, but Cindy Pawlcyn, best known for her Napa restaurant, Mustards Grill, breaks all the rules with nearly every dish she makes.
"Forget everything you've known about tamales," our waitress told us when we asked about this dish on the menu. She was right. [Big sigh] The meal was as refreshing and soul satifying as our day at Indian Springs spa.
And what is a good meal without fabulous art. Here's one artist work I fell in love with at Cindy's. I can't find anything about her on the web, but the staff told me he name is Elizabeth McKinney.
I walked in the room late, and the nude woman moving on the platform made eye contact with me and flashed a warm, welcoming smile. I sat down and started to watch her as my teacher talked. We didn't draw for a long time. We just listened and watched.
It took a long time before I could see her. At first I could only see the image of her and process my own feelings about seeing her--my first experience with a nude model in an art class. She was no regular looking person; her body was startling perfect in every way, and she had a Brazilian wax. For a long time I tortured myself repeating, "Is this how people are supposed to look?"
She carried herself with the ease of biting into an apple as she bent over unclothed in a room of strangers. Yet she was shy about stomping her foot the right way in a pair of her sister's slightly too big boots for the first drawing/stomping exercise. She giggled and teetered and looked at us for support and approval like a self-conscious beginning art student making her first drawing or mark on the page.
Watching my instructor with her was a lot like my first experience at a nude beach in France with my college French teacher and his group of friends. Zero sexuality. Total comfort with the body. Ease with all kinds of body types. Of course, that's the French I'm speaking of, not me.
By the end of the night I knew her body better than my own and the only other body I get to look at in the nude on a regular basis--my husband's. I fear it's taken all these years and an art class to understand what I'm missing in front of my eyes everyday.