Europe 2010: The Paintings Arrive!

On Monday morning we left our lovely apartment and walked the two blocks to the gallery – Espace Kameleon. I was surprisingly clear headed considering the quantity of red wine I’d confused at the Jim Haynes soiree the night before. However, my stomach was in a bit of a knot. This was the moment of truth. Would the three crates that Gregg packed with paintings back on Bowen Island actually show up at the door of a gallery 8000 miles away at exactly the right time? Our margin for error was basically nil on this operation. If the paintings didn’t arrive, then a great deal of planning (not to mention Euros) would have been for naught.

So we walked up to the gallery twenty minutes early, stomachs clenching and unclenching and voila–there was the camion (truck) parked right in front! The friendly young driver had the three crates unloaded and wheeled into the gallery within minutes. Talk about efficient!

I started to relax. Gregg was in his element. He had the entire show hung within an hour. The hanging system used is very smart–we’ve seen it in other galleries in Europe, but not in Canada. Each painting is hung by its wire on a hook that slides up and down a narrow metal pole that in turn slides along a track at the top of the wall. A painting can be hung literally in seconds and then the height and spacing relative to other paintings quickly adjusted. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show hung so easily. Mind you, I rarely am around to watch the hangings anyway! I left Gregg happyily tweaking the positioning of the paintings and headed out to a Nia class.  Stay tuned.

My job was to collect the screws as Gregg extracted them from the crates, help clean up the packing materials, sweep the floor, and take pictures. Occasionally I’d offer an opinion about where a particular painting should go–always the fun part of hanging a show!

The father of the gallery director (the only one of the family that runs the space who speaks much English) arrived about an hour later to help us with lights, deliver the food and wine for the opening, and answer questions. He was great–he had to be at least 75 and there he was up a steep ladder adjusting lights even while his hands shook so much I was sure the bulbs would start crashing down all around us. But mais non – he knew what he was doing.

The gallery has two floors (we didn’t know this before). However, the downstairs is very small and although it has some wall space, Gregg decided not to use it. Besides, we need a place to store the crates. They aren’t exactly petite. With much jockeying, we managed to get the largest of the three crates lowered down a very tiny spiral staircase (I’ll have a picture of it in a later post). Let’s hope we can get it back up again on Friday.