How a Gallery Owner Spends Her Sundays – The New York Times


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Katja Hirche mixes museum outings with visits to a French bistro and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

As the owner of Bernd Goeckler, an art gallery in Greenwich Village, Katja Hirche curates a cutting-edge collection of contemporary artworks and antique furnishings.
Born and raised near the spa town of Baden-Baden in Germany, Ms. Hirche had visited the gallery that bears her uncle’s name only once before he asked her to work with him 22 years ago.
“He told me he was planning to retire in 10 to 20 years,” she said. So, she quit her studies at the University of Stuttgart and moved to Manhattan, she said. “I was instantly mesmerized; I read all 500 of the books in the shop.”
Ms. Hirche, 44, has been running the gallery solo since 2019, when her uncle died. She and her fiancée, Yolande Milan Batteau, 51, an artist, renovated a 19th-century shoe factory in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, where they now live with their dogs, Kitsune and Misaki and Dagmar.
READING BY THE FIRE Sundays feel a little more luxurious, so I usually sleep in until 9, instead of 8. I’m a fire devil, so I run downstairs to make a fire in the cast-iron stove, which is where Yolande and I sit for about a half an hour, reading sections of The New York Times to each other. I usually eat an everything bagel with lox from Bergen Bagels, while Yolande will have a protein smoothie. She might steal a bite from me, though. We chat about the articles, then we walk Kitsune, Misaki and Dagmar around the block, then return to our conversations, which can continue for a couple of hours.
STEAK AND ROMANCE By this time, it’s near noon so we go to lunch, and we often drive into Manhattan. Our favorite spot is Frenchette, the French bistro and bar in TriBeCa. It holds special significance because that’s where Yolande and I had our second date. We only had three dates, and they were only over three days; after the last one, I asked her to marry me. I was swept off my feet; it was like a fairy tale. We generally share steak tartare and French fries, both of which are fabulous.
STOPPING TO SHOP We like to give gifts, so we do a lot of shopping and museum-hopping on Sundays. If we stay in Brooklyn, we stop in at Layla, a boutique in Boerum Hill. It has ethically sourced textiles and 18th- and 19th-century gold jewelry; Yolande’s a big jewelry collector.
One of our favorite spots is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I love the herb section because the vegetables are beautifully laid out. And the children’s immersive garden — which includes instruments such as xylophones that visitors, even those who aren’t children, play outdoors — is a charming idea.
THE MUSEUMS I really love the Museum of Natural History. We have been trying to see the new mineral section, which recently reopened after a renovation. We had appointments on two occasions but had to cancel because of the spike in Omicron cases. I like to visit a lot of shops and galleries to see what’s out there and to explore styles other than my own aesthetics. There’s always something useful to be found in the MoMA store. The last thing I bought there was a pair of Setago table lamps, which we take with us on the roof when we eat outside. With Covid, we don’t always get the opportunity to go inside stores, so we are doing a lot of window shopping.
HARBOR TO TABLE Yolande and I love spending time outdoors, and when the weather is nice, we go fishing in New York Harbor. You can catch a 30-inch black bass, which is enough for two fillets that will last for over a week.
HOME-COOKED MEALS Once we return home, we take it easy. We’re on our feet every day during the week, so we like to relax with the dogs. Cooking is one of my passions, and I’ve been doing it for a long time. I make chicken and rice for Kitsune and Misaki and Dagmar. I let Yolande choose what we’re having. I was single for a long time before I met her; it’s just nice to be able to share a meal with someone, and she’s an adventurous eater, so it works out well. One of my favorite dishes is Coca-Cola roast — Google it, it’s a real recipe. For a long time, I never told anyone what was in it; when I did finally reveal the secret ingredient, people were amazed.
BEFORE-BED CHATS We are big talkers; sometimes after dinner we talk for three to four hours about everything and anything: current events, people in our industry and shows we are planning. In one of these marathon chats, we actually planned an entire show for Yolande. If we’re not talking, we’re reading for inspiration and historical reference, and talking about what we read. We read sections of books and magazines, such as Architectural Digest and Elle Décor, to each other; they always pertain to our passions, which are the same thing as our businesses. Recently, we read about the French artist and interior designer Jean Dunand, who was popular during the Art Deco period.
By 10 or 11, we have put the puppies to bed and are getting ready to sleep. We have a strict rule: No iPhones once we’re in bed. Lights generally are out by midnight.
Sunday Routine readers can follow Katja Hirche on Instagram @agranddayout.
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