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The Black Book

Mercer Hotel | Maira Kalman, Self-portrait
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Maira Kalman

Maira Kalman was born in Tel Aviv and moved to New York City with her family at the age of four. She was raised in bucolic Riverdale, the Bronx. She now lives in Manhattan. MK has written/illustrated over 30 books for adults and children. She has been a frequent contributor to The New York Times and The New Yorker. She has created textiles for Isaac Mizrahi and Kate Spade and sets for Mark Morris. Other collaborations have been with Nico Muhly, Alex Kalman, Michael Pollan, David Byrne, John Heginbotham and Gertrude Stein. Her watch and clock designs appear under the M&Co label, the design studio created by her late husband Tibor Kalman.

She has won many awards and given numerous talks, including several TED talks.
Her art has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world.

Mercer Hotel | Maira Kalman, Central Park and The Met
If you are in NYC you must walk as often as possible in Central Park. And then go to the Metropolitan Museum. The combination of walking, trees, art, looking and not thinking is the secret to life.
Mercer Hotel | Maira Kalman, Jefferson Market
Any building with the word library is a good place. Sitting in the garden with a book and a cup of coffee. Not bad.
Mercer Hotel | Maira Kalman, The Hat Shop
I often paint the hats in the window. Fanciful toppers add romance and poetry to life.
Mercer Hotel | Maira Kalman, Ted Muehling
Every birthday. Every anniversary. Every wedding. Every time I step into Ted’s store I get a jolt of what beauty is. Lingering in the shop is a balm.
Mercer Hotel | Maira Kalman, Wooster
I have seen so many plays here that have changed my life. The antidote to Broadway.
Mercer Hotel | Maira Kalman, daily provisions
I can’t say enough about their maple syrup crullers. People are getting tired of my going on about it. But since you are reading, go there and get one. Early, because they sell out fast.
Mercer Hotel | Maira Kalman, Union Square Farmers Market
All year long I go there to shop for the most beautiful fruits and vegetables. And milk. And cheese. The leisurely pace. The bounty. A tonic for the soul.
Mercer Hotel | Maira Kalman, Judd Foundation
He designed every square inch of the home and furniture. Every visit there is a lesson in rigor. He had no doors on the bathrooms, for gods sake.
Mercer Hotel | Maira Kalman, McNally Jackson
How many hours can I spend in a bookstore.? Many. Sometimes I vow that I will not buy any more books for a week. Or a day. And then, boom, I see the bookstore and go home with a bag of books. The brain breathes.
Mercer Hotel | Maira Kalman, Fu Zhou Cuisine
I should not be telling you about them. because then the line for dumplings will be too long. Suffice it to say a plate of pork and chive. Nirvana.
Mercer Hotel | Maira Kalman, Russ and Daughters
If you are from out of town, a bagel with salmon and cream cheese is your key to the city. The same is true if you live here. And the babka? A triumph.
Mercer Hotel | Maira Kalman, Makie
I may singlehandedly be keeping Makie in business. Japanese creations for babies and children, that get passed down from generation to generation.
Mercer Hotel | Maira Kalman, Metrograph Movie Theatre
I saw a Fred Astaire double feature the last time I was there. Still dancing with Fred.
Mercer Hotel | Maira Kalman, Mmuseumm
A defunct elevator shaft in a crummy alley. (I have swept that alley. Photo upon request) What better place for a museum. Looking at humanity through objects from around the world.
Mercer Hotel | Maira Kalman, Angel Greenwood
At long last. Repose. Painting trees there while the angels watch over me.
Mercer Hotel | Maira Kalman, Blue footed booby
Well, you just aren’t sure which way is south without one.
Mercer Hotel | Maira Kalman, Exterior corner
To sit at a cafe table at The Mercer with a cup of coffee and watch the world go by for hours. I am invisible but present. Heaven on earth.
Bench Illustration Couple Illustration