If a picture says 1,000 words, a painting must say 10,000. Picture, if you will, a painting of a table, four chairs and a cat comfortably sitting on one of the chairs. On the left hand side, you can catch a glimpse of a street in the background. There’s life and movement in the background, yet a peacefulness and serenity around the table, which is the main focus.
We call it Mesa 2 and, every day, for the past year, we have set it up on its own easel outside just across from AlteArte’s entrance – right where the real Table 2 used to stand for six years. And we have watched from inside, unobserved, as people passing by have stopped in front of the painting, mesmerized by the image, taking in all of its details.
Over the past nearly eight years of exhibiting different types of art, it has always been interesting to see how people react to a painting or a photo. It’s visible in their faces, it’s obvious in the time they spend looking. Some people don’t even notice the art all around them when they enter AlteArte while others take the time to slowly climb the three levels to take in all of it. But, unlike the art inside, which is on exhibit, we weren’t setting up Mesa 2 for the artist or for people walking by to see. We were setting it up because we had something to say.
Frustrated with the City’s abrupt decision during the high season last summer to make us remove the two tables that used to be on the street directly in front of AlteArte, David had the idea to immortalize our table, and he asked Javi, our resident artist, to transform a photo that he had taken of the table into a painting. Taken from inside AlteArte looking out, David had taken the photo because of the cat that was so comfortably curled up on the chair. Little did he know that he was actually taking a photo of a table that would, one day, be no more.
Javi got to work on the project and delivered the finished painting months later, and we gasped when we saw it. He had captured the photo beautifully, catching the red glow from the candle on the table and the soft illumination coming from the street lamp on the street behind. The painting was large in size and rich in symbolism. Mesa 2 represented an artistic rebellion and expression. The city’s abrupt decision felt like an attack to our business. For us and all of our regulars for whom that was their preferred table, the painting became our way to declare to the city that they might be able to take away the physical table, but they would never be able to truly take away Mesa 2.
We set up Mesa 2 as a statement to the city, and, over the past year, we’ve gotten a huge response, but it hasn’t come from the neighbors who, surely, have been annoyed by its presence but are powerless to do anything about it or from the city who had launched the attack. It has come from people passing by, people who don’t even know about AlteArte or the significance of the table but who are just visiting Altea. These are people for whom the painting simply speaks to them – to the point that they want to possess it. They enter AlteArte to inquire about the artist and the price.
“The artist is one of the best currently living in Altea,” I am quick to respond as I already know their question. Half Argentinian, half Spanish, Javier Gomez Quintana has competed in rapid painting competitions throughout Spain, often placing among the top. He painted live for our 5th, 6th and 7th anniversary parties, creating masterpieces in hours and under the pressure of an attentive audience. Having known Javi since our first year with AlteArte, he plays a significant part in our Altea history.
“Regarding the price, though, the painting is not for sale,” I inform them. “Surely it has a price,” they exclaim, sure that they have heard wrong. “Everything has a price.” But even as they hint that they would pay big bucks for this special painting, I only become more adamant. No, there are some things that really don’t have a price. And I share with them the story of the table.
And I give them Javi’s contact information. Consequently, Javi has been commissioned to paint other tables and has even received requests to change the cat so that it is the cat of the person for whom the painting is being painted.
And I realized that, as special as the painting is for us, it’s also special for people who don’t even know AlteArte, who never even saw the real Table 2. The painting simply speaks to them. There’s a special energy in the painting, they say. The painting is almost life-like.
Ironically, the city may have forced us to remove our table, but, now, it is everywhere. It has been reproduced several times over and has been captured in photos countless times by countless people. Using art as a medium, we have successfully spoken to people, we have made them stop in their tracks, we have stirred emotion from deep within, we have made them think.
Through art, Mesa 2 continues to live and play a large role at AlteArte, and we have been able to reach more people and make a more powerful statement than we would ever have been able to – even with 10,000 words.