August 13, 2006


Alberto's Pirate flag story begins with a recent dinner we had together with my gallerist/dealer Miguel Marcos and his lawyer/judge/wife Mirentxu. Miguel was sporting his usual surrealistically inclined conversation and the table split into two streams as Mirnetxu and I dwelt on art and politics while Miguel was poking young Alberto with conceptual barbs, testing the lad to see how strong he was. As we were cleaning off our plates of paella, Miguel and Alberto were reaching across the table, shaking hands for a sealed deal.

Apparently, Miguel said that if Alberto had any balls, he would hang a Pirate flag from the museum as a statement of recognition for the unknown artists of the world. Now, Alberto is kind of like a big bear or puppy anyway (specifically a NewFoundland Water Dog, the breed of his big hairy affable 9 year old) and he seems to have an astral tail that can seem to wag like his dog does. To this deal, Alberto raised the stakes: if he pulls this off, Miguel has to fly the same flag from the balcony of his gallery. Miguel has this particular smile, almost Chinese in appearance and like a Bhudda, he tends to sit back when he does, as if questioning whether his interlocutor realizes that he has just been stuck with a trident of wit, drawing blood.

Alberto was smiling with the astral wag in the handshake, probably because he thought he had a narrow yet sufficient chance for a riposte.

I was home wondering when I will get in position to paint the next painting sleeping off the remnants of last night's whiskey as the doorbell rang. Alberto was with his friend Ivan's wife, both carrying last night's studio work in tow. "Would you like to come with us to hang the flag, Dennis?"

?Claro que si, tio!

Along the way, we met up with the city workers. In the preceding days, Alberto asked the alcadesa of Tossa (the mayor) for permission to fly the flag off one of the towers of the old city. Not knowing what the reply would be, he was pleasantly surprised that for the mayor, this was a gift from heaven: a chance to bring young people to the museum, to invigorate the arts in Tossa de Mar. Yes of course was the reply and she instructed a crew of city workers to assist even though they were on vacation.

?Que guay!

We wound up the road to Cap Tossa, nudging tourists along the way. It's amazing to witness the nonchalance of these guys as they negotiated the narrow winding crowded road, inches away from baby carriages, rock faces and steep plunges.

We tumbled out and scrambled to the tower. Alberto's best friend Ivan was to coordinate the top as Alberto worked below. Tourists began to swarm closer like flies.

Now, Alberto has been burning the candle at both ends for a week now. It was interesting to see how he handled the stress as he dispensed instruction to Ivan and the city workers.

The city workers weren't all that excited at first. One was particularly vocal and negative. Nothing would work. The rope would break. The wind would rip it all down.

Their keys didn't work, so they had to hacksaw the lock off.

I was beginning to wonder about how this would work out.

Finally in, we hauled up the ladder.


One of the workers asked if I wanted to get up topside.

Hell yea.

?Es una vista con conjones! (It's an impressive view a view with balls!)

?Pero, no mira a mi cojones! said one of them in rather loose fitting shorts as he neared the top of the ladder.

That little hole is where we emerged at the top.

By the time we got to the top and unfurled the flag, the mood of the workers lightened up.

"Are you one of the unknown artists?"

"?Si!" I said with a smile that said that I'm afraid I am probably classifiable as such.

Here are some cojones for you all.

Alberto struggled at the bottom for a bit.

It's amazing that the circular crown of the tower is a wall supported by a chorus of little cantilevers, first off the wall and jumping arches then from each other ring around the rosie.

Now, that's cojones.

Finally, the flag is hoisted.

The gathering clouds seemed appropriate for pirate activity.

"Do you think it looks ok. Dennis? Aren't the ropes a little off?"

"This is the work of pirates, Alberto."

"Tienes raison."

The opening was an hour away as we departed.

Posted by Dennis at August 13, 2006 10:00 AM

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