My DC // Jamie of High Heeled Traveler

I spent a lovely afternoon with Jamie of High Heeled Traveler. Jamie is a writer, art historian, and avid traveler. After getting serious credentials working at Sotheby’s in New York for five years, Jamie landed in DC — for now.

Jamie met me at her frequent caffeine stop, Filter Coffee House in the Dupont area where they serve french press and pour over coffee. Jamie loves loves coffee. So much so that her husband (who doesn’t drink any caffeine at all) thinks she has a caffeine problem. Since I had already had two cups of coffee before I met with Jamie, I opted for a berry tea and blueberry muffin. Both were delicious.

After I ate every crumb of my muffin, we headed over to The Phillips Collection where Jamie is a member. She says she can’t look at too much art in one day. Sometimes she’ll go in to a gallery or museum and look at one piece for an hour and leave.

Jamie loved this Matisse painting. We ended up standing in front of it and discussing it for quite some time. How the room doesn’t quite make sense, how she things Matisse moved the line of a wall and just sort of painted over it. How the table only has two legs, and how in someway it’s genius. What was going through Matisse’s mind when he painted it? Was he concerned at all about making is spatially correct? I loved getting her take on artwork.

During our afternoon we talked about our work-at-home uniforms. Mine is a white, black or grey, tee or tank, hers is a grey tee — like the one she’s wearing. She says she wears one all the time. While were talking fashion, let’s get the deets on Jamie’s outfit: My shirt was American Apparel, pants Club Monaco, sandals Madewell, bag Claire Vivier (I’m obsessed with it and have carried it every day since January!). 

While walking around Dupont we passed these interesting dancing reindeers. Neither of us are sure of their purpose, but they definitely make you stop and look.

For lunch we stopped by one of Jamie’s neighborhood Mexican restaurants. We sat outside, had a margarita, and another, and really got to know each other. She told me stories of her disaster of a wedding day, including a hair stylist that was coming off a drug binge and couldn’t stop shaking enough to do her hair, to her honeymoon story where she and her new husband camped for one night (not that she wanted too) drank lots of wine and had s’more’s all over her face. She tells the story much better than I.

We walked from Dupont to Georgetown — a walk Jamie makes frequently — and saw these gorgeous lilies. Maybe I’ve never paid attention, but I feel like it’s rare to just see that many giant lily plants right on the sidewalk.

Georgetown is so lovely to walk through. I don’t care that I look like a tourist, stopping mid-crosswalk to take a photo of a house. Jamie and I share the love of the old charm of the area.

Once we arrived in Georgetown, Jamie took me to L’Enfant Gallery on Wisconsin Avenue. A multi-level antique store full of items dating back to the 1800s and further. They even have a few pieces of mid-century modern items which of course caught my eye. Definitely a place to go for inspiration.

Let’s hear what Jamie has to say:

Why did you take me to Filter, The Phillips Collection, Lauriol Plaza, and L’Enfant Gallery?
Filter is one of my favorite coffee shops in DC. It’s a toss-up between that and ME Swings but Filter is within walking distance of my front door. I’m a simple American style coffee drinker, and at Filter there are many options for this type like pour over or French press. I buy their coffee by the bag to brew at home too.

I love The Phillips Collection because it’s more intimate than the big Smithsonian and National Galleries. They are good about always keeping the walls fresh, even if that means just rearranging the permanent collection a bit. I’m a member there and try not to miss Phillips After 5 the first Thursday of each month. It’s fun to see the museum come alive with music and so many people!

Lauriol Plaza was the first restaurant I went to in the Dupont Circle area when we moved here. We moved from Manhattan and were seriously impressed with the sheer size of the place! I like meeting friends there for chips, salsa, and margaritas during happy hour. The food is pretty decent and you can get Tecate for $5.

L’Enfant Gallery has an eclectic mix of valuable antiques in great condition and the staff is always friendly and knowledgeable. I like going down to the basement and rummaging through stacks of paintings and ogling all the furniture. I guess it reminds me of my time at Sotheby’s in that way. I saw two 18th century dining chairs covered in original teal fabric there last year and have thought about them ever since (maybe I keep going back in hopes that they will re-appear?).

What are some of your other favorite places to eat and visit in DC and why or what do you HAVE to get when you go to them?
Other favorite places for art include the National Gallery of Art and the National Portrait Gallery. There is just so much to see in those collections, I could go every week and still see something new. Upstairs in the National Portrait Gallery there is a collection of contemporary art. There is rarely anyone up there, so it’s the perfect place to have a quiet, reflective moment. I like bringing visitors to the National Gallery because they have a great gift shop as well. Other food/drink favorites are The Passenger for the perfect Manhattan, Dean & Deluca for special treats (as strange as it sounds the chocolate covered gummy bears are awesome) and gifts like fancy olive oil or French macarons. And if I had a lot of time to myself I swing by J.Crew, Anthropologie, and Madewell in Georgetown to see what’s new. Sadly, I’ve yet to find my dream shoe store. Nordstrom’s comes close.

Why did you study art history?
I had to. I started college as a mechanical engineering major but as soon as I took the art history survey course I was hooked. Like a moth to a flame. I changed my major and never looked back. I love the subjective discourse about art. I like that you can have layered discussions or heated debates about art history or just buy some art you like just because you’re attracted to it. Most of the art in our home is either mine (I draw in charcoal) or family members’ (Gman’s sister is a print maker and his dad is a photographer. My mom paints in oil and acrylic).

What type of art are you most drawn to and why?
I’m all over the board on this one. I took every ancient Greek art class available in undergrad. It’s so sophisticated, especially the pottery. I’m also obsessed with anything 18th century, especially French painting. Through the paintings you can see how they were trying to deal with the new Enlightenment ideas. Now-a-days a lot of my attention is towards conceptual art and trying to understand the contemporary markets and institutions.

What did you learn from working at Sotheby’s?
I’ll start with a quick antidote about my first day. I started working as a floater (paid intern) and my first assignment was to organize all of the sale catalogues in the jewelry department (so glam, I know). After hours of sorting, one of the specialists asked me if I’d like to see what they were up to. I said yes, obviously, and was lead to the vault where they were inspecting and writing about each newly consigned piece of jewelry. Also in the vault was Princess Grace Kelly’s tiara which was just there for an exhibition (not for sale). I was out of breath just being in the same room as the darn thing (I just adore her). Then the specialist let me hold it and even try it on! I seriously died. Best day ever.

Sotheby’s introduced me to the living art world. Specialists are constantly researching, writing, and discussing the most important objects on the planet and you get to be a part of it. It was like everything I learned in school came alive and if one had bazillions of dollars, they could own it too. I’m fascinated by that.

Personally, it was very, very hard work. I got my ass kicked and they rose to the occasion. I learned to work harder than I ever thought I was capable of and with difficult personalities in intensely stressful situations. I’m a pretty calm person and miss the crazy fast pace. It was stimulating.

What are your favorite items in your home?
This is tough question, like choosing a favorite child. I would have to say my great-grandmothers sofa. I think she bought it in the 1930s or 40s and recovered it in the 80s with this soft pink silk that has a metallic trellis pattern embroidered on it. It’s leggy and she used it in her tea room. My second favorite piece is our brass bar cart. It’s so Mad Men and sits in the middle of our living room. I feel glamorous whenever I’m pouring a drink. I have tons of books, magazines, and art but I would say my other favorite items are my kettle and French press. Making coffee in the morning is a daily ritual and it always gets me started on the right foot.

What have you learned from blogging?
I started blogging to improve my writing skills and learned that I’m actually rather passionate about writing now. I even laughed at a grammar joke recently.

What are some of your creative goals?
I’d love to do what Anthony Bourdain does for food and culture but for art, wine, and travel. I love watching his show, but as a woman I might not get to experience the world as he does (for safety and cultural reasons). So I take inspiration from it. I hope to enlighten myself and others through my adventures.

 Link to the cowboy monkey video here and info here.