Espinho, Portugal

July 28, 2012

After a great sleep and an amazing breakfast, we set off toward Espinho where later in the day Miguel, Rik and the other members of the Cabo da Mondego group were having an opening at the Espinho municipal gallery. I had booked a hotel a few km south of Espinho – a more than adequate 3 star for the great price of 49 euros. comes to the rescue yet again! After a bit of a rest, we set off for Espinho and the opening. Gregg was welcomed as a fellow artist and included in the tribute paid to all the artists by the cultural minister – a lovely woman who spoke perfect English and was extremely friendly.

The local Culture Minister welcomes Gregg as part of the group

The gallery is housed in a massive building that also contains Espinho’s museum. The museum was unfortunately closed but I caught tantalizing glimpses of very interesting displays of history, fishing, etc. as we hustled up to the gallery on the second floor. The gallery was a wonder – at least 3000 square meters (not feet!). The walls went on forever. Almost all the works in the show had been done collectively by various combinations of artists in the Cabo de Montego group. One of the series included works that Gregg had helped to produce when he participated in a spate of collective art making in Figueras when we visited in October 2010.

One side of the massive gallery in Espinho where Gregg may have an exhibition

After all the introductions, Miguel took people around the show and explained the various series in Portuguese. Meanwhile, we chatted with Rik and Gregg met the gallery curator – a very friendly young man. He is very interested in giving Gregg a solo exhibition at the gallery in a year or two.

Even for Gregg, the space is HUGE! He would need to do quite a bit of new work to fill the space but the result could be pretty spectacular. We spent some of our time at the opening pacing the walls to determine how many linear meters were available – about 700 meters. Yikes! That’s a LOT of wall space.

Other side of the gallery – just as long!

The opening included a collective art making event. Three large wooden surfaces, painted white, were set up in the gallery over many square meters of bubble wrap to protect the gallery floor and to be just a bit irritating to the watchers! Each time someone walked over the bubble wrap, the popping echoed around the huge gallery. One of the group is a poet so when he began reciting his poetry (in Portugeuse), the artists began attacking the canvas. Gregg threw paint with the best of them. The painting was fun to watch – a bit of a free for all with both the artists and various associated children and even the culture minister adding splashes of color.

Gregg chatting with Rik Lina
The collective art making begins
Gregg loading up his brush
Gregg and the director of the gallery check out Gregg’s photos
The Cabo da Mondego group with the finished collective art project
The painting went on for a good two hours after which we all retired to the courtyard of the museum where Miguel grilled chorizo sausuages and we drank the moonshine liquer. Apparently the grilled sausages after the event is a tradition.
Miguel cooks sausages on a little alcohol grill

The evening was great fun and Gregg was feeling pleased and just a bit intrepid about the offer of a solo exhibition. Apparently the municipal gallery at Espinho is the largest municipal gallery in Portugal. Although Espinho isn’t a particularly well known destination (it’s kind of a beach resort just south of Porto), its location near Porto makes it pretty accessible. We will be having many, many discussions in the months to come about logistics for creating and getting an exhibition to Espinho!

We were pretty exhausted after the event and so retired to our little hotel for a pretty pedestrian dinner in the dining room and early to bed. The next day we would drive from Espinho all the way up to the north Spanish coast. We needed our beauty rest!

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