Written by Park West Gallery collectors, Marianne and Theo Hoogstraaten, Dutch authors of the thrillers “Child’s Play,” “Powerless,” “Apparent World” and “Lokvrouw”
From left, Theo and Marianne Hoogstraaten with Alfred Gockel
Shortly after our presentation on parallels between our work and the paintings of Vincent van Gogh, at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, we received another art-related invitation that was just as special: Park West Gallery offered us a European Art Odyssey VIP cruise.
Our first reaction was disbelief. Was this a joke?
The next email showed that the invitation was indeed serious. Park West did not ask for a deposit ahead of time and there were no obligations attached to the invitation. Their goal was to create an intimate and relaxing experience for each of their guests. It was only assumed that we, as art lovers, would attend the art lectures provided by guest artists, who were flown from America. Park West would create a very tempting environment to collect art, but there was no requirement to reach a minimum of spending.
We gladly accepted the invitation.
On July 18, we were welcomed at the hotel Hilton Molino Stucky in Venice. We enjoyed a cocktail party and dinner, where we could meet the other lucky ones. We were the only Dutch between Americans, one Irish and one Norwegian couple. Everything was perfectly organized and the atmosphere was extremely pleasant and friendly.
The next morning we boarded our vessel, the beautiful Norwegian Jade. We were checked in through a private desk of Park West in no time. It was a taste of the rest of the cruise ahead: private rooms for lectures, auctions and cocktail parties, a separate room in the restaurant and really everything on behalf of Park West. We have never been so spoiled!
The presentations of the artists who joined us during the cruise were unforgettable. The first who gave an appearance was the French painter Duaiv. A wide variety of palette knife painted artwork was presented. Duaiv is clearly more a painter than a speaker. His performance was a little shy, but he was disarming and very open. So his work sold well the next day. Our first impression that he was sympathetic, was confirmed when we talked with him and his wife about painting and writing. His wife had composed a beautifully illustrated book about his life and work. He confided that he had moved to the U.S because there, he and his family felt more comfortable and safer than in France. In Cannes, someone had shot at him, and he was hit in the arm. If he had told that during his presentation it would perhaps have yielded additional sales, but that wasn’t his style.
The next day, Dominic Pangborn made his entrance. During his presentation he told especially about his life and all the setbacks he had to overcome to get to where he was now. He was a good speaker and told a gripping story about the suicide of a son of his friends. That had emotionally effected him and he had caught his feelings in a painting. His Art in Motion series, full-color three-dimensional structures, which move when you walk by, attracted much interest.
The third artist, Alfred Gockel, surprised his audience by not speaking but painting and involving his audience in it. Because he had worked the evening long he could present the result the next morning. It was a beautiful painting, a symphony of colors in partly abstract, partly figurative patterns—a true Gockel! During the auction, buyers offered high amounts for that special artwork. Gockel is one of the few modern artists who work on etching plates, in the tradition of Rembrandt, Goya and Picasso. Some are printed in multiple colors. The circulation of it is always very limited, after which the plate is destroyed. In particular, a series of etchings of Venice was appreciated. We thoroughly talked with him about etching techniques and ways of printing, in wich we have a special interest.
On the last auction day, works by Yaacov Agam were featured. To everyone’s surprise, one of his works that was exhibited in the Guggenheim museum was offered for sale, and sold!
Before we left for Venice, we could not imagine what awaited us. In any case, all of our expectations were far exceeded. Who wouldn’t want to cruise from Venice to destinations such as the Greek islands of Corfu, Santorini and Mykonos, where we always had enough time to look around. During the days at sea we were immersed in art of high quality. Park West Gallery had everything very well-organized. There was no pressure to buy expensive works!
This European Art Odyssey VIP cruise was really a fantastic experience. We have written this review with pleasure and perhaps it will serve as a recommendation to others in the future.
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