Inspiration
Meet Monica Delgado: A Filipino Artist in New York
Monica Delgado talks about her creative process, guilty pleasures, and waking up to a view of the Empire State building.
IMAGE PATRICK DIOKNO
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What time did you wake up today?

3:45 a.m. I just returned to New York from a three-week trip to the Philippines and jet lag has been brutal.

What’s the first thing you usually do when you wake up?

Heat up the kettle on the stove to make a cup of hot water and lemon.

What did you have for breakfast?

I was starving when I woke up this morning. I had an egg white frittata with greens and shiitake mushrooms, though I don’t usually do anything this elaborate on a normal morning.


How do you stay in shape?

I feel my best when I stick to greens and protein. But I surely won’t deprive myself of a burger or pizza if I wanted it. Moderation works for me. I do Pilates thrice a week, when I’m not teaching it (I teach private Pilates parttime in New York). I also box or do a spin class.

Earliest art experience?

Art classes with my siblings and cousins. Watercolor. Gerry Tan was my art teacher when I was 4.

Was there a pivotal moment when you decided you would become an artist?

I’ve loved art since I was little, though ironically, I wanted to be a doctor my entire childhood. It was during my junior year in high school that I decided that I wanted to pursue art. I was living in Houston, Texas, at the time and my school had an excellent art program. I was surrounded by a lot of dedicated peers who shared the same passion for art, and my art teacher gave me the confidence to pursue it. My parents were also supportive. Since then, art has been my compass, and is always a first concern when it comes to making big decisions.

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What are you currently working on?

One is for an art fair I am part of in New York this May, called Superfine! Another project is a commission for a Sloan Kettering hospital.

Do you have a favorite art movement?

Minimalism.

Favorite artists?

Agnes Martin, Tara Donovan, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Olafur Eliasson, and Pipilotti Rist.

What’s one art work you dream of having in your home?

Something from Agnes Martin—her work is so calming.

I’ve loved art since I was little, though ironically, I wanted to be a doctor my entire childhood. It was during my junior year in high school that I decided that I wanted to pursue art.

Favorite books?

I just finished Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese. It was one of the better books I’ve read in a long time—a beautiful read. I am also a sucker for art books.

Staple reads?

Hyperallergic, an online forum that covers perspectives on art and culture today.

Favorite gadget or app?

I use Duolingo a lot to learn Dutch, partially so I know what my husband and his friends are saying. I am also loving Elevate, which is like a brain training app.

Describe your clothing style.

Black, white, and 50 different shades of gray. Maybe some navy to switch it up. And a few red pieces here and there. I like it simple and effortless, mostly clean lines.

Style icon?

Julie Sariñana of Sincerely Jules.

What’s your go-to outfit?

By default, leggings and a loose top since I teach Pilates five days a week. And then I head straight to the art studio in them. I pretty much live in leggings.


What does your home look like?

We got lucky with a nice-size patio and a sunroom that has windows on three sides and an unobstructed view of the Empire State Building. But just like most New York apartments, you gain some things in sacrifice of other things. Our sacrifice is our tiny kitchen where you can’t load the dishwasher and use the sink at the same time, or opening the fridge accompanies hitting some hanging pots. Counter space is a challenge. Our apartment does get a lot of light, and we have a ton of plants and lots of fuzzy blankets and pillows.

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What fragrance are you wearing?

Prim Botanicals’ Mademoiselle Swell. It’s an organic perfumed oil that smells like heaven.

Were you given any great advice today?

“Approach everything as a creative opportunity.”— Danielle Laporte. It popped up from an app banner on my phone.

What was the prettiest thing you saw today?

Watching the morning sun light up the Empire State building from our apartment.

How do you entertain at home? How often?

During the winter, not so much, but in the summer, fairly often. We are lucky enough to have a good-sized patio and we throw lots of barbeque get-togethers in the summer complete with an LED-lit beer pong table.


Guilty pleasures?

Dominique Ansel’s kouign amann pastry. Shake Shack. French fries. Lately, it’s been this Salty Honey Pie from a Brooklyn bakery called Four and Twenty Blackbirds. It’s really dangerous because I can have each of these delivered to my doorstep within an hour. The perks—and dangers—of New York.

Greatest extravagance?

The latest Sonic Care toothbrush judges me on how well or poorly I brush my teeth. I’ve never spent $230 on a toothbrush. But I did.

Dream date?

I don’t think my husband would appreciate me answering this.

Love of your life?

Eli, my husband. He makes me the best version of myself.

Quality you like most in a partner?

Eli always makes me laugh, so it would have to be that.


Where are you having dinner tonight?

At home. I love to cook. We recently got a sous vide cooker, which I like to use every chance I get. Tonight is sous vide salmon, which pretty much melts in your mouth, steamed artichokes, cucumber salad, and rosemary potatoes.

What time are you going to sleep?

Not too early I hope since I’ve been up since 3:45 a.m. and I don’t want a repeat.

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What do you hope to dream about?

Puppies.


LIFE IN NEW YORK

Favorite restaurants?

Maialino in Gramercy Hotel, Casa Enrique in Long Island City, Momosan in Midtown East.

Favorite bars?

Dutch Kills in Long Island City and Diamond Lil in Greenpoint.

Drink of choice?

An Old Fashioned.

Favorite shops?

The Meadow in West Village. They sell artisanal salts and chocolate and the most extensive selection of bitters. Lush for their bath bombs and Aesop for their soaps and lotions.

Favorite museum?

Dia:Beacon.

Favorite galleries?

Pace, Matthew Marks, and Petzel.


ON CREATIVITY

What influences your work?

I am drawn to texture and layers, which is often reflected in my work. I love challenging ideas using my own explorations. I do like trickery and repetition.

How do you prepare yourself for a day of work?

My day starts with a cup of hot water and lemon. In the studio, espresso or matcha is necessary.

What element is absolutely necessary for your process?

Air and circulation. I dry a lot of paint.

How do you overcome a creativity block?

Travel.

Any go-to snacks?

Mixed nuts. Chocolate.

This story was originally published in the May 2018 issue of Town&Country.

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