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.
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, photograph by Stefan van Drake|
(All images are oil on canvas, approximentally 90 x 100 cm.)
Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)
|Atop Mount Miroma, Andalusia´s highest mountain, photo by Stefan van Drake|