Italy Trip 2019: Day 2 Thursday

After the tumultuous day that we had travelling yesterday, it was really good to get a good sleep last night. The bed was quite comfortable and the room was quiet. We started our morning with breakfast up on the roof of the hotel, on the fourth floor. There’s a terraced patio area surrounded by potted lemon, orange and lime trees along with many plants and flowers. There were many little birds that occupied the area, even jumping right onto the table to try to steal crumbs directly from our plate until we waved them away. The breakfast bar itself had a pretty broad selection of cheeses, meats, eggs, fruit, pastries, toast, croissant, juice, and Nutella. We got coffee and tea and just enjoyed the coolness of the morning and the chatter of the many birds. The view from this rooftop terrance of the city skyline is beautiful.

I got a taxi driver to give me a ride for about an hour’s transit to the town of Frosinone, where I would have my solo art exhibition for this month. I needed to be at the gallery for 10am in order to check in with the curator, probably about what paintings needed to go where, and to confer on the curatorial vision for the exhibition. When I arrived, curator Alfio Borghese greeted me and we viewed the four large rooms of wallspace for the show. Shortly after, the cargo delivery driver arrived with the four large crates of my 50 paintings. I paid the driver the remaining amount of cash needed to pay the taxes and delivery fees, and then he used a palette jack to lift and roll the crates, and then he had to use his shoulder and brute strength to move them once they were inside the space. Each crate measured about 6ft x 2-3ft x 3ft, and each weighed about 200lbs and there were 4 crates total.

Alfio and I then took the next couple hours just to open and unpack the paintings from the crates. We needed a Phillips screwdriver to be able to open and unscrew the tops of the crates, but we only had a flathead screwdriver. We tried using the flathead on the Philips screws, but to no avail. So we took a break to run an errand to the local hardware store to purchase two Phillips screwdrivers and an electric power drill (where’s the local Benny’s when ya need one?). After that, we stopped at the local printshop to order banners and posters for my art show, and to give hi-res photo files of some of my artwork to the designer. Then we returned and continued the tedium of opening the crates, this time with the proper tools. Then we unwrapped the paintings carefully so that we could reuse the packing materials for return shipping.

By this time it was around 2 or 3pm so we took a lunch break to go to a local caffetteria, where we ordered some flat pasta in a red wine sauce, some caprese salad, and then wine. We chatted a bit about some logistics for the exhibition and about our different cultures. Then we returned to the gallery to continue our work on the exhibition. It was at this point that I realized that Alfio didn’t have any other staff to help him install the exhibition, so I stayed a long time with the expectation that I would help hang the show and we would be done by evening with time enough for me to still have dinner with my parents back in Rome.

We moved the paintings from the ground floor holding area to the actual gallery space upstairs on the 1st. Then I noticed that the previous artist’s artwork was still up on the wall, so I asked Alfio if we had to take down that artwork, but he said not to touch it because only the artist could take them down when he came this afternoon. Because of this, our ability to put my paintings up right away in the right spots on the right walls was compromised.

We first put up some paintings by other US artists in the small room I the back, moving some of the existing paintings. It took us 2 hours just to hang 6 paintings, so I was beginning to worry if we would have all the paintings hung in time for the exhibition opening reception, which was happening tomorrow. The hanging system is not one I’ve seen before, a structure of scaffolding holding up the lights and a white canvas backdrop. In order to physically hang the paintings, we had to tie a line from the top of scaffolding and then tie it on the back of the painting’s hook, making the hanging process of each individual canvas even more tedious than the hanging of paintings in a gallery already is.

The gallery closed at 8pm so we were rushing to try to hang paintings. The other artist finally cleared out all of his artwork from one room only about an hour before closing time, so at least then we could start to hang my own work on the walls in this room. I wish the other artist had instead just removed all his paintings at once and consolidated them to another space of the gallery that wasn’t crucial to hanging mine, and then he could wrap them each there. But no, instead he took each down from the wall, carefully and tediously measured bubble wrap to tape and fold every bubble wrap package around his frames perfectly. I would normally understand this in any other situation, but we were only crammed for time to hang my exhibition because he was taking his sweet time to take down his — and my opening reception is only tomorrow night!

It was getting down towards the end of the night with only one hour left and we still had only hung 3 of my own paintings, out of fifty! Alfio advised me to go around the remaining gallery space and lean my paintings against the wall in the order and spacing that I would like to see them. He assured me that he would come back tomorrow morning with a friend to finish hanging them, while I had existing reservations for tours and activities in the Vatican City with my parents. I just hoped that he would have enough time tomorrow to hang the remaining paintings before the reception started at 6pm.

Once 8:00pm arrived, we put the crates and packing away and we left the gallery. On the way to drop me off at the train station to catch the commuter rail back to Rome, we stopped to get a gelato to cool off after doing all the hard work today in the gallery. Then he dropped me at the train station and I waited for the 9:15pm train back to Rome, about an hour and a half trip. On the way to the car, Alfio and I put up the signs and banners up advertising my exhibition.

The train ride itself felt like riding any double-decker commuter train between Providence and Boston, but the announcements for each stop were in Italian. At one point in the train ride there was a group of teenagers that were clapping and singing and stomping. If I wasn’t so exhausted and hot then I would have enjoyed the music, but I only felt that it was pounding into my headache, so I moved my seat to another train car where it was much quieter.

I arrived at Termini Roma, where I was going to find the Metro stop back to the Spanish Steps, but I couldn’t locate the right platform, so I got in line to wait for a taxi cab back to the hotel by the Spanish Steps. All together I didn’t get back to the hotel until around 11:30pm. I was tired and exhausted and went right to sleep after letting my parents know that I had made it back safe and sound.