Paint Schoodic

Register today for upcoming classes!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Argentina in Quarantine: a plein air show

Argentina in Quarantine will open on Saturday, July 11 from 2 to 6 PM, 394 Commercial Street, Rockport.

Glacier Cagliero from Rio Electrico, by Carol L. Douglas

In March, 2020 I traveled to Patagonia to paint with a small group of fellow artists. COVID-19 was still a distant threat on the world stage. That didn’t last. Within 48 hours, the Argentines closed down all internal flights. We were effectively stuck in the tiny village of El Chaltén.

At first, that just meant no contact with the locals, but as the days went by, the cordon sanitaire tightened. By the end, I’d spiked a temp and was confined to my room. (It turned out to be a parasite.)

Meanwhile, it was getting colder in Patagonia. Termination dust—the first snow of the year at high elevations—appeared on the mountains. Our hostel was not built for winter habitation. They grow no food at these elevations. We had to move on.

El Calafate, by Carol L. Douglas

There was no travel within Argentina without a government-issued pass and a very good reason. We learned there would be a last flight from the provincial capital, Rio Gallegos, to Buenos Aires, intended to get foreign nationals out of the country. Rio Gallegos was about 300 miles distant. Much of the drive was through open desert, where guanacos, rheas and jackrabbits bid to become road kill. Armed with a jerry-can of gasoline, we departed at four AM. At each checkpoint, soldiers carefully scrutinized our papers. The road was unmarked and dark.

We arrived at the airport in ample time, but the line was excruciatingly slow. The airline wasn’t honoring our tickets. The terminals were not working. I checked through a half hour after our scheduled departure. The plane taxied as we were escorted to our seats. In Buenos Aires, any hope of a quick flight to the US was dashed. We were escorted out of the airport by a soldier and spent a week in a hotel, under the watchful eye of military guards.

You can read the full account of our trip starting here.

Carol Douglas painting in El Chaltén, Patagonia, photo by Douglas Perot

I did not return with the paintings I’d intended, but I did return with paintings of a strange and wondrous part of the world—paintings I’d love to share with you. Meanwhile, a traditional opening is impossible right now.

Ken DeWaard and I were kicking this problem around recently. It’s not about the viewing space; I’ve figured out how to move my whole gallery outside into a tent for the duration of the crisis. It’s serving refreshments that has me flummoxed. “I can set them on a table and people can serve themselves with little toothpicks,” I said. “But what about the glasses?” It seems like dirty glassware is a potential disease vector.

“Make it a BYOW party,” he suggested. “Bring your own wineglass.”

Brilliant, Ken! Bring your own wineglass or coffee cup or tin cup, and I’ll gladly pour your refreshments. And, of course, bring your mask.

I’ve extended the hours to 2 PM to 6 PM to avoid crowds. Instead of a talk (and the danger that people will queue) I’ll just tell you all about the experience one-on-one.

No comments: