Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Dutch in San Francisco

That the nameboard on my booth at the fairs announced my residence in Oosterbeek, The Netherlands, turned out to be a great boon. Many Californians of Dutch heritage made a beeline over to me to practise their Dutch and to reminisce about their Dutch past in comparison with their California present. Having, myself, a Dutch father who emigrated to Canada, we found that we had much in common.

One highlight of such meetings was the visit from Jaap and Petra Veerman. Jaap Veerman had recently been installed as the Deputy Consul of the Netherlands in San Francisco. His and Petra’s enthousiasm as collectors of Asian art was second only to their enthousiasm for promoting Holland in the world. Inevitably the conversation led to the potential role that the Dutch consulate could play to involve foreign Dutch nationals, and especially local Indonesian Dutch, in the fairs. The conversation evolved as we went to speak with Louis Rierijnck, another Dutch booth-holder at the fair and then further again in the Veerman home two days later where we enjoyed a warm welcome and a delicious meal. Their enthousiasm for Dutch Design and the accomplishments of the local Dutch in the San Francisco area was so infectious that I found myself wishing that I had also made foreign affairs my career...

One of the most noticeable Dutch contributions to American society is the cafĂ© chain called “Peet’s” that began in Berkeley. To my delight, they had a special on of Batak Blue coffee while I was there, and the walls of their coffee parlours were decorated with high-quality indigenous textiles.

....I wonder if they would be interested in blue Batak textiles....


Another serendipitous meeting at my booth was with Marijke van Doorn who invited me to her Berkeley home for tea. There I also met Riet, a Dutch professor at UC Berkeley and Mariet Braakman, artist. Their warmth and enthousiasm for Asian art and for my book added a special glow to my experience of the fairs.

My thanks to Michael Craycraft, Galerie Arabesque, for use of his photo of my stand at the fairs!

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