Monday, April 11, 2011

ArtTraveler seeks help selling Semana Santa tearful Virgin Mary T-shirts

The now questionable investment in the tearful Maria Semana Santa T-shirt
You may recall my idealistic foray into morphing original art into T-shirt fashion income for our cat charity, Canillas Animal Trust (C.A.T.)

(See my 26 March post about John Barrett and me entering virgin territory with this T-shirt fundraising idea.)

This is a scary sequel.

What happens when the idealistic but culturally deficient ArtTraveler  moves beyond his first two sold-without-seeing sales to friends who love our charity and personally know the artist?

Not much, as you will see.

Holy Week, Semana Santa, is nearly here.

Spanish re-enactments of Semana Santa can be very real and painful. Photo by Stefan van Drake (2009)
I dream about being mobbed in Malaga on Maundy Thursday during a procession, people clamoring to buy tearful Maria Tees.

I´ve invested 500 Euros out of pocket. If there´s a loss, I expect to take it. C.A.T. gets half of the sales, regardless, and could, if all 100 went out the door, make 500 Euros for vet expenses.

"Sound Reflections," Cómpeta, Spain´s main square Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2010)
And I would save face.

Sparse Sunday sales in Cómpeta

It´s a sunny Sunday mid-morning (10 April) in the central plaza (formerly Plaza Generalisimo) in the white-washed Moorish mountain village of Cómpeta.

I´m setting up our weekly mobile charity shop along with Kate and Eva next to the 16th C. Catholic Church.

We sell cheap stuff, books, bric-a-brac, and other things you cannot afford to live without at our give-away prices.

We also sell excellent previously occupied clothes with labels that aspire to bigger things.

Today, however, it´s only tearful Maria T-shirts on show, one of each size, starting with 3XL. (I brought 44 from home.)

(Remember, this is a very limited edition, depending on who you talk to.)

Two busloads of Spanish tourists show up to see the fine art historical tile mural next to our rastro.

Palm Sunday in Cómpeta, Spain. Photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)

I greet them in Spanish and they look at me like I´m crazy, which a number of my friends confide is not too far off the mark.

They don´t smile. 

I tell them we love cats, this is an animal charity and we´ve got loads of cheap stuff, and hey, please buy a new Hail Mary T-shirt, for you, only 8 Euros because you´re part of this special group.

No reaction.

The devil made me do it?
I really begin to worry.

Kate Morris, co-founder of the charity, never did like the design or colors selected and she insisted she told me so more than once, and when she says that, she means it.

Like God is more on her side than mine ´cause she´s a former Church of England lay minister who still legally marries and buries.

My co-worker Eva, who is German, says she would never wear it, therefore, why buy it?

Very German that logic, in my face.

I tell her you don´t have to be Catholic or Christian to support the charity. She ignores me, arranging bits of this and that on our collapsible table.

OK, I cannot get my fellow animal lovers to buy one.

Then I spy Lisa, the local vet´s assistant, who knows me and my cats and my reputation as a live-cat trapper. She turns me down flat, even though I´m sure a portion of our profits would trickle down to her.

She thinks the color is "dirty." She asks if I dyed it (killed is what she meant) or something bad happend to it. "Should have been on white." 

Kate separately agrees. 

"It´s a man´s color," says Lisa in a huff of bountiful gender supremacy. 

"Yes, you should have consulted a woman first," says Liz Paris, a friend who lives in London and Cómpeta. 

Liz tries to make me feel good by lauding Barrett´s art but chiding my choice of final palette: "I would have bought one if it were red on white."

I nod, embarassed at being born male.

Minutes later a man I know, an artist acquaintenance, bought the 3XL for 10 Euros. David is one of the better artists in Cómpeta´s colony, a man whose judgment I respect.

David once told me to burn a painting because I complained to him as we chipped away on our respective slabs of alabaster, that it was like a ghost returning in different palettes and textures, plaguing me with over-painting and frustration.

"Processions R-Us," Cómpeta, Semana Santa, photo by S. van Drake (2006)

I burned it the same day, roasted it live in my BBQ. I trust his opinion because I want to in this case. It keeps my flailing ego afloat.

I meander over to Dominic, a young German friend, about age 24, and his girlfriend, Nikki, and their one large and two half-dogs, immediately asking what size shirt would they each like to buy.

"Death of a Painting," photo by S. van Drake (2010)

What follows by video shows how hard it is selling tearful Maria Tees. It´s only 3 minutes long and Dominic has a very muscular torso. (To see the "half-dogs," you´ll have to click on the video....)

But what´s with the Spanish?

The first two Spaniards I asked to buy one, and I know both of these people well, turned me down. 

“I´m not a believer,” each of them said.

It came to me in a flash, a conundrum and perhaps my cultural T-shirt Waterloo (couldn´t resist it): Before the Spanish Civil War, only 5 percent of Spaniards attended mass.

After the war, again 5 percent and that´s likely today´s secular reality.

Semana Santa is, however, taken extremely seriously. So what´s with the T-shirts?

In the last half hour of our rastro, I sold five more tearful Maria camisetas, all to expats.

I have yet to score my first Spaniard.

"On the way to the vet," photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)
If you would like me to send you one, cost is $12 donation plus postage. We´ve got PayPal. Really, let me know. ArtTraveler´s fragile ego may depend on your purchase.

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

Consider a week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop in our mountains above the Med or a walking holiday in our national parks next to where we live. See: or

Contact me at or by calling (34) 951 067 703, or from the UK at BT landline rates, 0844 774 8349.

1 comment:

  1. I like the Lacrimosas and the Pietàs, even if I am not a believer. Like Requiems and sacred music somehow