It all started this summer at L’Orangerie. My wife Kathryn and I were in Paris. We were staying at a hotel directly across the street (Rue de Rivoli) from the Jardin des Tuileries. To our right, at the north end of the Tuileries, was the Musée l’orangerie. The museum is an art gallery displaying impressionist and post-impressionist artists. The highlight of the gallery is eight Water Lilies murals by Claude Monet.
We arrived at the gallery just as it opened in the morning and went first to the Monet murals. Hardly anyone was in the two oval rooms and we were able to sit in silence and absorb the paintings without distraction. No one was taking pictures or selfies (yes, we saw this in almost all galleries and museums in Paris). I was enchanted, and particularly moved by one section of Monet’s Setting Sun painting.
Although I spent a great deal of time looking at all the panels in both rooms, I kept returning to that painting, and to that section of the painting.
Finally we moved on to other Monets, and to other sections of the gallery which had a wide selection of painters. My love of art had re-ignited. I remembered now why so many years ago I had loved an art history class in college, a class which gave me a wide exposure to a huge number of art works from around the world. My wife had not needed reminding.
During our week-long stay in Paris, we visited a number of other galleries and museums.There was no end of paintings to admire and enjoy. Yet some of them affected me more than others, including some of which I had previously been unaware. One was Cemetery Gates by Marc Chagall at the Museum of Jewish Art and History in the Marais district of Paris,
and another Monochrome Blue by Yves Klein at the Centre Pompidou.
When we returned home from France, I looked for a way we could display some of the photos we had taken during our trip on the walls of our living room–a room which doesn’t have too much wall space, all of which is already used for art we have acquired over the years. Realizing that with digital photos, we could have a way of rotating pictures so that one space on the wall could display an unlimited number of different photos, I scanned the Web and read about a variety of digital photo frames, all too small for what I wanted. My goal was a Christmas present for my wife, and a “thank you” for her as well, since she was the one who had made the trip possible, doing all the work of organizing the trip, packing, and making sure that we were on schedule.
Then, by chance, I discovered “digital canvases.” They were all in the right size range for what I wanted, although their cost was higher than I had wanted to spend. Yet I realized they would not only display our photos, but digital copies of our favorite art that we had seen in Paris. And digital copies of great art from around the world, known and unknown, famous and not.
I found six possibilities. One was Framed 2.0, another Artkick’s Look, EO1 from Electric Objects, Canviz, Depict Frame, and Meural. However, Artkick was closing down, Canviz did a successful Kickstarter fundraiser and then, surprisingly, canceled it. Depict cost $1,800, far more than I wanted to spend.
Framed, EO1 and Meural all looked good. I looked at their prices, their features, and their likelihood of coming out soon and surviving (this was more intuitive than analytical). EO1 looked very good but it was apparently going to be available only in a vertical, portrait format. Since most of our travel photos are landscape that eliminated EO1. Framed also was intriguing but the information on its website was limited; it was unclear if the price was going to be $399 or $499 and there was no suggestion of when the ship date might be. It was also smaller than Meural. Making a decision, I pre-ordered a Meural at $445 (rather than the later price of $495) with a ship date in “mid-Fall.”
I should mention that I didn’t order a Meural just because it was the last one standing. It also looked very, very good. At 32″ x 21″, which was the size of the white-bordered one I ordered, it was bigger than the competition. It could be mounted either vertically or horizontally. (Unfortunately much of what we’d like to display is vertical, so maybe if we use our Meural initially for horizontal art, down the line we can get another Meural or different digital canvas for the verticals.) The art subscription service it offered was only $4.95/month and the first year was free. Like the others it had an Android app, and like some it offered gesture control. It looked very attractive. And I liked the feel of what I read on the website, and what I read about the people involved.
My wife doesn’t yet know I spent $445 on an electronic gadget. We’ll deal with that later. Since it’s supposed to ship “mid-fall,” it could be here well before Christmas and I may not be able to wait until Christmas before giving it to her. We’ll deal with that later, too. In the meantime, I await our Meural.