The depressed clouds had been crying off and on all morning – their tears flooding our patio then drying just as quickly. Like a confused husband, we shrugged and decided to move forward with our plans. It was a once-a-month outdoor event (only occurring during the summer months, at that) and promises had been made to our daughter. We skipped the tram and drove into the city – to the free parking lot just a few blocks from the impressive but lonely museum. We’d seen the museum the week before – after a visit to Antwerp’s newest and (in my opinion, anyway) most fun new coffee shop – Texas Coffee. The Museum van Schone Kunsten (Museum of Fine Arts) is currently being renovated until 2019 – and its scaffolding and gritty pavilion was anything but inviting on that Wednesday morning. After traversing the streets on Sunday morning, the clouds parted and the sun grinned on the festivities below – highlighting the transformation of tufts of grass in an otherwise naked concrete canvas into a kaleidoscope of art and creativity. We had arrived at LamberMontMartre, one of Belgium’s largest outdoor painters’ markets.
Parisian music wafted through the air over the hum of artists and viewers conversing – their whispers and laughter punctuating the melody of the accordion player. My children eyed a set of paintings – full of color and entertainment – women and waiters in different poses, different backgrounds. They each pointed out a favorite and I asked them to explain why.
We weaved through the stalls – each painter, photographer, or sketcher smiling at my passing children. We pushed the stroller past a series of nude paintings, in which my daughter noted her disapproval while my son just shrugged. In the center of all the activity was a booth for the children. For just two euros, the woman behind the table offered a canvas and paints for my children to create their own masterpiece.
As they completed their art, I pushed my youngest in his stroller through more displays. The photographs of the St. Anna Tunnel called my attention, but as I eyed them, the sky began to turn from its sunny disposition to gray once more. Artists dodged raindrops and covered their masterpieces with plastic wrap. The children’s art was tucked under the table to dry. We huddled under umbrellas, trying to decide whether to fight or flight. The previous week’s Fiesta Europa experience had left me weary. We returned to the children’s booth and with damp paintings, we passed the ham and brie sandwiches stand (and wine and beer stand.) and headed back towards the shelter of the car.
With two more opportunities to visit the market – Sunday, August 27 & Sunday, September 24th – we hope to return. A true inspiration for budding artists and bohemian-like atmosphere, the LambertMontMartre is a unique and fun experience for old, young and everyone in between.
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen
Leopold de Waelplaats 2, 2000 Antwerpen, België