Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Pineapples are a Global Trend

At the beginning of summer, I thought: "Oh, I should create a pineapple silkscreen and print it on bags, T-shirts, and everything else!". Since my mind turns to tropical things when the weather gets warm, the pineapple is just this year's iteration of my tropical obsession- last year, it was the palm tree.

I didn't end up designing or printing a pineapple print (yet!), but it feels like I've seen pineapples on everything this summer! I'm going to attempt to write about my summer through my pineapple pictures :)

Exhibit A: Tablescape.
It all started with my preparation for Art on Lark, my local craft fair in Albany. I look forward to it every year (even though I also say every year:"I'm never doing this again!"), and try to have a new crop of items for sale, or a new theme for my table decoration each year. This year I thought bright, tropical fruits would be an eye-catching addition to my colorful purses and jewelry, so as usual, in early June, I got out all my items to sell, brought a fold-up table into the living room, and played around with how I would display everything.

I'd bought a few cake stands in the winter that I thought would look nice with earrings hanging off of them, and the pineapple was just fun! I also got some clementines (and limes, which you don't see in the picture.)

Well, it turns out that Art on Lark got rained out and moved to a different day.. a day that I would be in France at a friend's wedding! So needless to say, I did not participate in Art on Lark this year. But don't worry, the pineapple did not go to waste. My boyfriend Kevin cut it up and grilled it (delicious!) and I spruced up some cocktails with pineapple chunks and drink umbrellas to kick off the summer!

Exhibit B: Art.
My friend's wedding was in Toulouse, in the south of France. The last time I was in Toulouse was in 1995!

Traveling with my parents, we were able to see some good friends in Paris and family in Poitiers, including cousins I had never met before!

I thought the pineapple trend was a thing Stateside, but nope, there are pineapples on products and artwork in France too! (Who knew? There are a lot of American brands in France too, which I was a bit surprised by, but that's a whole other post)

Here's a canvas with a pineapple design in a storefront in Toulouse. So bright and happy!

The pineapple is a symbol of hospitality: warmth, friendship and welcome, says the internet. But to me, it's also a reminder of hot, tropical days and warm summer nights, of a time when a fruit salad was made up of pineapples, mangoes and papayas.... ahh, the good old days.

Exhibit C: Golden Pineapple.
My parents and I visited a museum in Toulouse called Fondation Bemberg, where we saw tons of European paintings, furniture and decorative items dating from the Renaissance (one of my favorite art periods) to the 19th century.

This is either a trophy or some kind of chalice from 16th century Germany I saw in one of the display cases. I think it's made of gold-plated silver. Pineapples were even cool way back then! I wonder who brought the first pineapple to Germany... and where it came from... Asia? Africa? The Pacific Islands? Did Europeans like it at first? Your guess is as good as mine.

George Bemberg was a German art-lover who was raised in France and studied at Harvard. He started collecting art and art objects first in New York, then in Paris after World War II. Since he had no heirs, he decided to create a museum that would house his collection. Thanks George! I should start a museum for my jewelry collection...

Exhibit D: Mosaic.
This next pineapple, also from a street in Toulouse, France, is part of a decorative mosaic outside a restaurant. Can you make out the pineapple at the top of the design? It's kind of hard to see with the reflection of the buildings from across the street.

The day after the wedding, my parents and I walked around town, taking in the sights. Since is was Sunday, many shops were closed. That's one thing I'd forgotten about France... Sunday is regarded as a day you spend with your family, not out shopping. Maybe we should adopt this kind of idea! Also, shops and restaurants are closed for around two hours in the middle of the day on weekdays so the shopkeepers can go have lunch (possibly at home).

And many French people take the entire month of August off for summer vacation. Imagine that! Not going to work for an entire month! I'm certain that it makes the return to work that much more dreaded, but that you also return with more focus... or you just forget what working feels like and you're panicked and clueless... I don't know.

Exhibit E: Craft Fair.
The next pineapple is back in the States, the second one I bought for a craft fair!

This time, it was for the City of the Hills art & Music Festival in Oneonta, NY. I participated in it last summer, and had a lot of fun! (Even though it was windy and my poor tent finally broke. R.I.P. EZ-Up Pop-Up Shade Tent... you were not that EZ to put up, but you served me well. I finally had to replace you)

I was finally able to fulfill my dream of a tropical fruit-themed tablescape! I got bright orange oranges and clementines, a fresh new pineapple and little party umbrellas to spruce up my display. And I think the pineapple brought happiness to some passers-by! It was certainly a conversation-starter, and sometimes I need some help getting people's attention when I'm sitting at a table hoping to sell my items. I also gave away a few clementines to the most parched of craft-fair-goers.

If you're interested in my jewelry or bags, please check out my Etsy shop :)

Exhibit F: Art Doorbell.
I took a little field trip to Mass MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, with my agent Lori and a few fellow Painted Words illustrators in August.

This pineapple doorbell was affixed to the wall at the entrance of one of the exhibits. I didn't even notice it until I had left the exhibit and re-entered it a second time. I was too afraid to actually ring it (I don't think it did anything anyways), but it caught all of our attention. I don't "get" a lot of Modern Art, but I thought this was a fun surprise in an exhibit that caused me to pause and think.

It was great to go to a museum with other people who do what I do for a living! And with the people who help get out work out there! Shadra Strickland, Huy Voun Lee's work and my own are different, but we all work in children's books and have many artistic interests.

I look forward to more field trips with artists! I think the Eric Carle Museum will be next!

Exhibit G: Bromeliads.
Kevin and I got back last week from our yearly New England vacation that involves a few different stops, including Block Island, Rhode Island. Because of Tropical Storm Hermine, (Why didn't they just name it Hermione, like the Harry Potter character? That's what we kept calling it.) all of the ferries to and from Block Island (the most remote island on the Eastern Seaboard: 13 miles of the coast of mainland United States) were canceled for two whole days.

So, we were stuck in Providence for two extra nights. Not that I'm complaining, though! I went to college in Providence and always come back during vacation!

Since we had time to kill and no plans, we decided to check out the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center. This is a picture of some beautiful Bromeliad plants there. Now, I know these are not actual pineapples per-se, but they look like the tops of pineapples, and it's because they are related! I learned this while working at Magnolia Flowers in New York after college :) I spent a lot of time googling the plants we sold so I could have some knowledge to give to the customers.

Exhibit H: Googly eyes!
Here's another plant from the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center. I don't know what it is, but the trunk looks like a freaky elongated pineapple body staring at me!

We spent hours in the botanical park, photographing almost everything. I think I'll revive my botanical printed purses sometime soon! I've got plenty of fancy patterned foliage photos now that would look great printed onto little bags.

If you're wondering, when Tropical Storm Hermione finally subsided, Kevin and I were able to get on a ferry to Block Island for the beach leg of our trip. The waters were still choppy from the storm, and I did not take my Dramamine early enough before getting on the ferry: the most wretched hour ever.
I cannot fly or boat without the preemptive Dramamine.
It stinks having to learn that the hard way.

I took a lot of pictures of the beach on Block Island, but nothing with pineapples. Although I saw plenty of pineapple-themed items in the gift shops there.

Exhibit I: Graphic Design.
After a few days on Block Island, it was time for Boston and on to Providence again. I don't remember any pineapple things in Boston (plenty of lobster things, though), except for this pineapple sticker on a pole near the Museum of Science. I got lazy with the photograph-taking and this one is from Kevin's camera (thanks, Kevy!)

We spent hours in the museum exploring exhibits about lightoptical illusions, wind energy, human biology, geography, math, and a lightning show!

Exhibit J: Art School Project?
In Providence, Kevin and I spotted this painted pineapple on a piece of wood, attached to a street sign on Thayer Street. (This photo is also by Kevin)

What is it? Is it art? Is it welcoming us to Thayer Street? Who made it? Are there others like it around the city (we didn't find any others). Is it some subversive art school project? Public art? Who will ever know...

Incidentally, Thayer Street has changed a lot since the ten years that I graduated from RISD. I'm very happy that the Creperie on Fones Alley, right off of Thayer, is still there! It was a staple of my college days. Nutella and banana crepe, anyone? And maybe a Tropical Oasis smoothie? A crepe is always a highlight of the Thayer Street experience. I miss Beadworks, though.

Exhibit K: Snazzy Logo.
We spent an afternoon in Newport, exploring The Breakers: the summer home of the Vanderbilt family, built in the late 19th century. It's full of exquisitely ornate furniture, wallpaper, rugs, sculptures, chandeliers, and everything else you might imagine a mansion would have!

The Breakers is now owned by the Preservation Society of Newport County, who maintain it and offer tours of the Breakers and ten other estates. They have an awesome logo with a pineapple at the center! I think it's a pineapple... I hope it is.

If I found a t-shirt at The Breakers gift shop with this Newport Preservation Society logo on it, I would have snatched it up. But I settled for some awesome shark and lobster lollipops instead. Hope you had a great summer!

I'll get to creating a pineapple print sometime... It'll probably happen in the dead of winter when, naturally, one's yearning for the tropics is obviously strongest.

Cheers to Summer!


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this post, never knew what pineapple would be coming next!

    1. Thank you so much for reading! Glad you enjoyed it 😃