Saturday, March 19, 2011

Guerilla marketing through restaurant galleries: curating by trial and error

Jaime Adan
Paco Cerezo is a stout, square-jawed Spaniard  who looks a little like a bulldog.

His blue eyes usually flash a little mischief, waiting to toss you a one-liner, a wink or spurious grin.

A proud man in his 50´s, armed with a fierce work ethic, who could probably wrestle a mule to the ground, Paco never quite understood, until now, the power of art on tourists.

When I ask him how he is, Paco often fires back: "Bien malamente, muy grave (Not too good, pretty serious)."

He perseveres during Spain´s economic depression Spanish call, “La Crisis.” It causes significant fiscal pain with 20.4 percent unemployment.

Paco and family run Cerezo´s Bar, Restaurante & Gallery in our Andalusian mountain village of 1,000, Canillas de Albaida, a 40-minute cork-screw drive to the sea. 

The "gallery" part is my innovation, a win-win, cross-marketing plan promoting Paco´s and artists.

It happened more as a subconscious process of my thoroughly disliking his decorating and his faux green, ugly little plastic plants on tables, which he hopes will grow approval from guests.

(The nasty little pseudo-plants remain.) 

He knows how I feel about these eyesores, but he´s a tough man to dig out of the past´s trenches. He is stubborn.

But, hey, it´s his country, his restaurant. 

I waited in the wings and thought about possibilities for his spacious, airy and sunlit, glassed-in, open to the mountains and valley dining area adjacent his outdoor terrace.

Trust your instincts, your subconscious, I told myself.

Follow the (art) force.

If you despise open wall spaces and lousy, faded posters and still lifes as I do, you too could become a volunteer restaurant curator supporting fellow artists and yourself.

Paco´s Gallery happened more by accident than design.

Paco´s crew last spring was busy repainting walls a palatable muted yellow that reflected light well, same as before, but fresh.

When I saw the 12, A-3 sized, totally faded posters illustrating surrounding villages with coat of arms had gone, I stared at one wall, then the other.

I saw on the larger museum-size wall my 4 x 1.7 meters, John Barrett diptych, “Song of a Descending Day,” the artist´s interpretation of one of Federico Garcia Lorca´s poems. 

It´s part of Barrett´s 15-year Lorca Project, visually interpreting Lorca´s poems in two periods: 1919 - 1929 and 1929 - 1936, when fascist militia in Granada executed him and 2,000 others on the eve of civil war.

I knew it was the perfect home for Barrett´s two acrylic-on-canvas panels I purchased during his August 2009 Spanish inaugural, “Lorca: A Dream of Life,” showing in two galleries simultaneously, one in our village and the larger (150 paintings and drawings) in nearby Competa.

After suggesting the idea to Paco, I waited a couple days and then brought down an A-4 photo of the two panels as they appeared in Barrett´s show, the same palette as Spain´s national flag.

I said, think about it.

Paco, studying the photo, turned and walked back into the kitchen.

I left and returned a day later. 

He said, go for it. Paco and I hung Barrett´s visual Lorca poem three days before Spain won the UEFA World Cup trophy. Timing also helps, a little serendipity.

Once up, Barrett´s “Song of a Descending Day,” provided the ideal Spanish ambience for his restaurant. Paco had the space, I had the painting.

Another win-win.

Paco then pointed to four empty spaces on the other denuded wall and said, “Hey, what about those spaces?”

I said, can do.

I open shows every five to six weeks, only four paintings, but the artist can change them at will during the exhibition. 

I make sure to rotate and bring in different talent each time.

I provide the news releases and media work.  

The artist puts up and pays for any promo materials or print advertising.

Today (19 March) at Paco´s, I open an exhibition of oil paintings from my private collection of Spanish painter, Jaime Adan, who lives and works in Mexico. 

Here is a representative mini-gallery of Jaime Adan´s work.

Jaime Adan
Jaime Adan

Jaime Adan
Jaime Adan
Jaime Adan, photograph by Stefan van Drake

Jaime Adan

(All images are oil on canvas, approximentally 90 x 100 cm.)

Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

Come to Andalusia for a walking holiday or week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop. See: and

You may reach me privately at; please alert me to any arts news tips or happenings you think may interest us all. 

Or, you can call me in Spain at either: (34) 951 067 703 or from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349.

Atop Mount Miroma, Andalusia´s highest mountain, photo by Stefan van Drake

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