Work by Carol Douglas will be exhibited in “Argentina in Quarantine” on July 11. A reception from 2 to 6 p.m. will be held at the artist’s home studio/gallery, located at 394 Commercial St., Rockport.
In March, Douglas traveled to Patagonia to paint with a small group of fellow artists. COVID-19 was still a distant threat on the world stage. That didn’t last long. Within 48 hours, the Argentines closed down all internal flights. The group was effectively stuck in the tiny village of El Chaltén.
At first, that just meant no contact with the locals, but as the days went by, the cordon sanitaire tightened. At one point, Douglas had spiked a fever and was confined to her room.
“It turned out to be a parasite, but of course we didn’t know that at the time,” she said.
Meanwhile, it was getting colder in Patagonia. Termination dust — the first snow of the year at high elevations — appeared on the mountains. The hostel was not built for winter habitation. They grow no food at these elevations. The group had to move on.
There was no travel within Argentina without a government-issued pass. The group learned there would be a last flight from the provincial capital Rio Gallegos to Buenos Aires, intended to get foreign nationals out of the country. Rio Gallegos was about 300 miles away. “Much of the drive was through open desert, where guanacos, rheas and jackrabbits try to become road kill,” said Douglas. Armed with a jerry-can of gasoline, they departed at 4 a.m. At each checkpoint, soldiers carefully scrutinized their papers.
“We arrived at the airport in ample time, but the line was excruciatingly slow,” she said. “The airline wasn’t honoring our tickets. The terminals were not working. I checked through a half hour after our scheduled departure. The plane taxied as we were escorted to our seats.”
In Buenos Aires, any hope of a quick flight to the U.S. was dashed. They were escorted out of the airport by a soldier and spent a week in a hotel, under the watchful eye of military guards.
“I did not return with the paintings I’d intended, but I did return with paintings of a strange and wondrous part of the world,” said Douglas.
The gallery space will be an outdoor tent for the duration of the pandemic. Guests are welcome to BYOW — Bring Your Own Wineglass — and Douglas will pour drinks. Masks are required.
For more information, call 585-201-1558, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.