Clutch Gallery and Emma Robbins have made it back safely to Chicago! (The two have been back for almost 2 weeks, but due to an unplanned, and unpleasant case of shingles, getting back into the swing of things has been rather slow.)
The trip was a good one, filled with lots of sun, sea, micheladas, intrigued and friendly people, as well as many, many layovers! Clutch has now been to the Tennessee, Miami, Bogotá, Lima, Santiago de Chile, and Buenos Aires airports. Luckily there were no major problems in these airports, aside from a few questions and some suspicious looks from the Colombian military when going through airport security. They seemed to be more concerned about the medium format camera and film I was carrying, rather than the gallery.
While in Colombia, Clutch and I stayed a few days in the capital Bogota, but spent most of our time in Baranquilla and Puerto Colombia, both on the northern coast of the country, next to the Caribbean Sea. There we stayed with my best friend Angela and her family, who were very friendly, and all very into my "carterita" (little purse), aka Clutch. Clutch and I spent a lot of time at the beach (we both got pretty deep tans) where several people would say, "cute bag!" and I'd jump in to show them Greenswoggle. When traveling to and from the coast, from Bogotá, I put the gallery in a larger bag with my camera. I then tied this around my leg and put it underneath my seat, to avoid theft. On our way to the Caribbean we broke up our trip in two parts (we stopped to visit my friend's aunt in a town called Bucaramanga), so that it wouldn't seem so long. However, our trip back was a non-stop (not counting dinner and breakfast stops) 20 hour bus ride. So, Clutch and my leg spent a lot of time together.
The second half of our trip was spent in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where we stayed with family and friends. (I lived in Buenos Aires for 5 years before moving to Chicago in 2010.) Like in Colombia, people were very mystified by Clutch and Greenswoggle. Luckily many of my friends there are artists so they were very excited, and were able to help me explain the concept of both the gallery and the show to those who were having a hard time understanding. Clutch Gallery went to MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires), where Paul Melvin Hopkin's and Carlos Cruz Diez's pieces were united. (See pictures.) Clutch Gallery traveled all over the city, and was viewed by friends, family, old acquaintances, and the occasional person on the street who asked what I was carrying.
Almost 3 weeks had passed, and our trip was coming to an end. Because I had so many more things to bring back, and so many fragile things to carry, Clutch Gallery was packed away in my carry-on luggage. This proved to be more difficult, as I kept nervously stopping to open up my suitcase and check to make sure that nothing had been broken. (One radish came loose, but was easily repaired.)
So here we are. We made it back, after many, many, many hours of travel and adventures, and are now in the final days of Paul Melvin Hopkin's show, and in the final days of anti viral meds. (The show has been extended and will be up until February 7, 2012.) I'd like to just share some final thoughts and observations about our trip.
Most people who I showed the gallery to were more intrigued, perplexed, and at times, stumped by Paul Melvin Hopkin's Greenswoggle, rather than the actual space itself. I didn't expect this. However, people had a hard time understanding what my role was and what it meant to curate this unique space. I think one thing that attributed to this was the fact that the translation of curator was a strange one. The word "curadora", which is the literal translation, was understood by most Argentines, but the majority of Colombians didn't understand it, and they also didn't know of a better word to use. When we arrived to Buenos Aires, our luggage was not there. LAN/American Airlines had misplaced it, this was probably due to the fact that we had a 12 hour layover in Lima before arriving, as well as a delayed flight. When this happened, I was very happy that Clutch was with me and not packed away in my luggage, which probably wouldn't have happened anyway, but I was still very thankful. Because I did so many things, and went to so many places in such a short amount of time, it sometimes became difficult to stop and show people Clutch. Also, because of the holidays and the 2 week vacations that people are allowed to take in the summer in Argentina, many people were out of town. Most galleries there also close for the majority of the summer, which was disappointing as I had wanted to show Clutch. However, I was very content with the amount of people who saw the show, and the feedback given.
The best part of this experience was sharing this space and this artist's work with lots of different people, in different locations, in different settings. I know that this will always be the most exciting part of Clutch Gallery, whether in the Caribbean, Palermo, Chicago, or the Tennessee International Airport, and I definitely look forward to it.