Monday, 26 February 2007

The Last of the Mohicans

Planet Goodaboom, Monday 26th February 2007

Yesterday, after 4 or 5 weeks pause, I exhibited again in the Street Gallery. Against my expectations based on former experiences with the local authorities, one week after my request for renewal of permission I received an official letter from the town hall, saying that they agree. Hurrah! It feels as though I have won a war!

I thought I had no chance, because in the meanwhile I am the only painter left exhibiting there, you might say: the last of the Mohicans.
Did I already tell you the story of the Street Gallery?
It started 3 years ago, from a collective painting exhibition organised by the local Lions Club. I met there a Spanish painter, Concha. We were both exasperated by the lack of exhibiting possibilities in our area, and had the idea to try to make the only pedestrian street of the city OURS, at least on Sundays, organising an exhibition of paintings from international painters there. It took three months till we got the permission – a perfect example of the „maƱana“ principle-, and we only triumphed because Concha & me are the kind of people who take it to the wire until we get what we want! We were sent backwards and forwards through all the departments here, the culture centre, town hall, police, traffic, economy, simply because nobody really wanted to make the decison. It even became a political matter! But finally we got what we wanted!

Well... we were 7 at the beginning... 4 Spaniards, 1 German, 1 Swedish and the French Miki. Unfortunately it is very hard to work the street, and we had to face all kind of calamities like sudden storms, electrical shorts , sewage smells from the overworked drainage system, Dogs fouling path AND paintings! etc. But the worst were the critics: many people could not understand that professional painters like ourselves could „demean“ themselves by exhibiting their paintings in the street, and most of the time under very unfavourable conditions. They thought the street was the wrong „frame“ for our paintings, that it would totally diminish their value. So one after the other my painting companions deserted the Street Gallery. Just Concha and me were still there last Summer. Unfortunately, in the autumn, she gave up, too. I then wanted to stop myself because I found it too hard to stay there alone, and anyway it didn’t correspond at all to the original idea of having an international gathering of painters working in different styles and techniques. But in the last 3 years the Street Gallery had become quite well known in the area, people really enjoyed it, and they tried to convince me to go on. But it is only thanks to Kevin, who motivated and helped me so much all the time, that I am still there... and very happy about it!
As hard as it is, it is really the best way to reach the maximum number of people with my art, people coming from many different countries and social backgrounds and occupations. It is also the best place to observe the public reaction to my work.
In the meantime people no longer think it is a shame to exhibit in the street. I like to think of it as striking a blow against the collective prejudices...

And as if the gods wanted to reward us: it was a very successful day yesterday, I´ll tell you about it next time.
And the curtain fell on the Street Gallery with an astonishing sunset...

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