Crossing The Bridge

Catalogs on sale at The Bridge opening in Paris
Catalogs on sale at The Bridge opening in Paris

At about 4 PM on Sunday, February 8th, people began to fill the chapel of Saint Germain des Pres for the official VIP opening and reception for The Bridge/Le Pont exhibition. The challenges of installing the show (as I mentioned in my previous blog) were behind us and the Big Reveal was upon us.

There was a buzz of excitement in the air along with a tantalizing mix of languages as the guest list reflected the multi-cultural nature of the exhibition itself. It was a very successful evening – lots of great feedback, stimulating conversation, press interest and most importantly, general support for the mission of fostering communication and respect between different cultures, faiths and creeds. 

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Paul-Gordon Chandler, founder of CARAVAN with the artists present at the opening
Paul-Gordon Chandler, founder of CARAVAN with the artists present at the opening (myself included, on right)

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The Deputy Director of UNICEF opened the program and once my part of the official ceremony was behind me (the speech I gave in French went off as smoothly as can be expected) I was able to relax and enjoy the canapes and drinks provided by ‘Madame Chef’ catering. This was a wonderful start to the long journey ahead for the 47 paintings – Cairo, London, Barcelona, Rome and the United States have yet to host this traveling show. Bon voyage!

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Caravan - Abbaye de Saint-Germain-des-Pre¦üs_62Photography:

Karel Steiner

Alan Merbaum

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The art of curation

You know the phrase ‘the show must go on’? Well, curating is all about ‘the show must go up’. Here I am in Paris with the two-person CARAVAN team to install The Bridge exhibition in an ancient chapel inside the most historic church in Paris – Saint Germain des Pres. This is the church’s first foray into exhibiting art on this scale (47 original paintings). There are many limitations accompanying such a venue not the least of which is the prohibition to touch or attach anything to the walls. This calls for major creative problem solving.

Saint Germain des Pres
Saint Germain des Pres

I love curating but it is not nearly as glamorous as it sounds. Like most things worth doing, curating a show involves lots of hard work and you have to be prepared to be a jack-of-all-trades.

Unpack five large crates of artwork
Unpack five large crates of artwork
Building 3 meter high frames out of PVC piping
Building 3 meter high frames out of PVC piping
Holding up ladders
Holding up ladders
Painting a faux stone finish on the support frames
Painting a faux stone finish on the support frames
Attaching hanging hardware to some 30 paintings
Attaching hanging hardware to some 30 paintings
Restoring a damaged painting
Restoring a damaged painting
Hours deciding on the arrangement and hanging of the works
Hours deciding on the arrangement and hanging of the works

Four days later, the show is up and we are now taking care of the many small details in anticipation of the official VIP opening on February 8th. Some of the hung works are pictured below:

Opening 17

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It’s been an incredibly rewarding, challenging and tiring time. And obviously I did not accomplish this gargantuan task alone – our team consisted of Paul-Gordon Chandler, founder of CARAVAN and CARAVAN’s Program and Development Associate, Claire Marie Pearman, both of whom worked tirelessly, fighting colds and physical exhaustion due to climbing up and down ladders and filling sandbags. It was a pleasure and an honor working with them!

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There’s still one more task a curator has to take on…

Plastering posters on Paris streets
Plastering posters on Paris streets

The exhibition will travel to Cairo, London, Rome, Barcelona and the United States.