10 Questions For (12): Kimberly Kradel of Artist-At-Large

Happy to present Kimberly Kradel, the ever traveling Artist. Probably she’s on the road again, because despite some gentle nudges I haven’t received better photos from her….now I have collected some from her sites.

1) Who Are you?

Who am I or what am I? Who I am is Kimberly Kradel. The short list of what I am is that I’m an artist, writer, and photographer who happens to love to travel. My background is in photography and studio art and I’ve also had a keen interest in words and putting them together since I was very young.

Languages are also something that I am interested in and have studied. Studying five of them has not only given me a much larger vocabulary to work with, they have also shown me how connected we are as the human race.

I’m currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area. But I grew up in Western PA, went to art school in Pittsburgh, then after graduating I came out to San Luis Obispo, California on a Greyhound bus with ten dollars in my pocket. And that was the beginning of my travels. I spent a lot of time hanging out on the Big Sur coast and I eventually got my degree at Sonoma State University. I have worked in both the publishing and internet industries. I am the founder, web developer/producer, and lead contributor to artist-at-large.com.

2) What do you like about what you do?

I love being a story teller although I’m fairly wordy and my stories usually go in circles. I love taking photographs of the places I go to and use them to jog my memory – because every picture tells a story. One of my biggest joys is going back to places that I’ve already been, exploring them further and deeper, while making and keeping connections with the locals.

When it comes to working on my own site, I love that I can publish my own work, on the web, without using paper. Not only is there nothing to recycle, as long as the content is kept up to date, it stays relevant. I like that I can make my own schedule, travel when I can (which isn’t nearly as much as I would like) and be my own boss. I like that I don’t have to get dressed and ride on a crowded train to and from work every day. I’m looking forward to expanding the artist-at-large project off of the web – I have a few projects that are in the pipe for early next year.

3) What don’t you like about what you do?

That I’m not living in Paris – yet!

I don’t like that I haven’t yet found the trick to supporting myself with my site, bringing in that ad income, but I’m working on that. I would love to be able to travel more and support a few more regular contributors on the site. The project as you see it today is very small compared to the vision I have for it. I think it would be a much more interesting place on the web if I could have a crew of artists and writers who travel, all reporting their perspective on a destination.

Black and White, but in colors by Kimberly Kradel

4) Please tell us all about your blog and your aims with it.

artist-at-large.com | exploring cultures with eyes open launched in September 2000 and is made up of both static and blog content. It is about art, culture and travel. Good for both the trip researcher and armchair traveler, on it you will find regional travel guides, travel stories, travel information, quirky survey questions, photos of the day, and listings for open studios and events in each region on the site. The stories and information presented on the site are written in a way that are meant to be valuable over a long period of time, like an art or travel magazine or guidebook that you keep by your desk and flip through when you need information, or just want to daydream. The site also fosters online art education and promotes artists from around the world.

5) Your top 3 destination experiences you’ve ever had to date and why?

I always enjoy Paris. What an enigma of a city – a great mix of the old and the new, where the culture is not only uniquely French but includes many cultures from around the world. I love spending time in the museums and just walking the streets, or sitting in cafe, letting my experiences come to me. I love picking up a bite to eat in a boulangerie. I’ve made friends there while on my travels so it’s a place I enjoy going back to time and time again.

Finally making the trip to the village near Prague where my grandfather was born and lived for awhile before that part of my family emigrated to the US. That was probably the most incredible journey and intense experience I’ve ever made – mostly because of my expectations of the place, and the cultural differences that I didn’t expect would be there between me and the place that I thought would be my extended home.

I was totally taken by surprise by the Yucatan peninsula. I really wasn’t prepared for the culture of the place and thoroughly enjoyed the things I discovered there. I’m really into art history and archaeology so I was in heaven while visiting the Maya ruins. And the beach in Tulum is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever walked on.

Big Sur, California is one of my favorite places to go to get away from my life for awhile. I just drive the Escape Pod down the coast and car camp. The isolated landscape of the area is incredible and car camping really connects me to that. There are some great hikes, some great beaches, and just a lot of spectacular views while driving down the coast.

That’s four. Sorry 😉

6) Your top 3 accommodations you’ve ever stayed to date and why?

I’m a budget traveler and I tend to make friends to stay with or visit old friends when I travel. But I do have a few places where I have stayed that made the trip better than it could have been.

I rented a room in an apartment in Prague from a random guy who met my train when I arrived there. It turned out to be a wonderful experience and a wonderful way to stay in that city – I felt like, well, except for the language and culture barrier, a local. Plus when I had a bad day my hostess would explain my cultural faux pas to me so that I could do better the next day.

I love the town of Arles in the South of France, and the last time I was there I stayed at Hotel Le Cloitre in the center of town. I had spied this hotel while on my first visit to Arles and told myself I would stay there the next time I had the opportunity. So I did. I always travel by myself, so I took the smallest room in the hotel. Considering that I would be spending most of my time walking around or hanging out at the Cafe Van Gogh, it was perfect. The hotel is located right around the corner and behind the Saint-Trophime cloisters. I really enjoyed my little room in this antique space.

While in Tulum I stayed for a week at Zahra, part of the Eco-Tulum family of properties. I had a large cabana to myself, right on the beach. During the hot part of the day I would sit at my table, with both doors wide open and just watch the kids playing on the beach with their parents. The sunrises were spectacular. The Maya Spa next door at Copal also has excellent rustic spa services which are not to be missed.

7) Your top 3 most memorable food experiences to date and why?

I like little finds rather than the big experience meals. There have been times when I’ve found street food to die for and top rate restaurants that have been a disappointment. But the good ones are:

My favorite restaurant anywhere is The Slanted Door in San Francisco. It’s been in about three different locations but has finally seemed to have settled in The Ferry Building at the end of Market Street. We recently had the first SF Travelbloggers meeting there. They do both traditional and contemporary Vietnamese and Asian style dishes. All of their produce is local and fresh, so the dishes are very flavorful. When my friends come into town to visit, it’s the one place I like to make sure we dine.

My favorite food find ever is Nutella. I found it while traveling on my first trip to Italy. I can’t keep it in the house because I can’t keep myself from eating the entire jar in one sitting.

The first time I ever had crepes in France. Two friends from Paris and I were visiting the South of France and we had dinner in a restaurant that was carved out of the side of the hill, like a cave, in Saint-Guilhem-Le-Desert. I can’t remember what we had for dinner, nor the name of the restaurant, I just remember the crepes for dessert. It was the evening that I learned that the word in French for whipped cream is chantilly.

8) Your 3 worst destination / accommodation / food experiences to date and why?

I’m not much of a complainer when it comes to my travels. I like to look at all the ups and downs of the trip as one big experience. So for the sake of my need to put a good spin on my stories, I can’t think of many bad experiences.

Although, there is one thing. I don’t enjoy having the entire fish, head and all served up on my plate for dinner. There’s something about the eyeballs staring at me from the plate that really gets me.

9) Can you offer the readers 3 travel / food / accommodation / things to do tips about the city you are currently living in?

Well, San Francisco is a very exciting city to visit. If you are just visiting for the first time, I would definitely hit The Slanted Door while in town. I would try to go there for lunch on a day when the farmer’s market is happening at the Ferry Building to get a taste of all that the Bay Area has to offer in the way of food. I would visit some of the many museums and galleries in town – SFMOMA, The Asian Art Museum, The de Young, and the new California Academy of Sciences. If I were to suggest a hotel, it would be any one of the Joie de Vivre hotels. They really pay attention to their environments and offer a unique San Francisco experience.

10) What makes up the artist in artist-at-large?

My work isn’t for everyone, it’s very abstract, and a bit cerebral. It has nothing much to do with travel although sometimes it does have something to do with archeology. You can see some of my work on www.kimba.com

Thank you Kimba! I relate much to your thoughts and site, as I find Art an excellent excuse to travel and do that at least once a year with a small group of friends associated under the name “Art en Route”.
As a Nutella aficionado i can point you to a similar experience: Peanut Butter (the version wit little pieces of nuts in it) with Chocolate Flakes sprayed all over it and a thick layer of butter under it! Yummie! More addictive and less sickening than Nutella:-)

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