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See it to believe it

A hologram art installation at The Lobby of The Peninsula Manila will showcase highlight pieces from Salcedo Auctions’ collection.

Something’s risen at the lobby of The Peninsula Manila and it’s not Venus.

But it’s something just as eye-catching as the luxury hotel and Salcedo Auctions are mounting a hologram in the middle of The Peninsula’s iconic lobby. The hologram is an art installation that will showcase highlight pieces from the auction house’s collection, which will go under the hammer on Sept. 23 and 24.

This collaboration — which includes special rates at the hotel for a stay that includes a guided tour of the art pieces on display for this month — is aptly called, The Well-Appointed Life. (The Well-Appointed Life comes from the title of a Ronald Ventura painting that Salcedo auctioned in 2010. It shows a woman with a stylish crocodile bag.)

I had a chat with the couple behind Salcedo Auctions, Ramon (“Richie”) and Karen Lerma, about this event that is an artwork in itself, at ­— where else — the artful Peninsula lobby.

 

 

Joanne Rae Ramirez (JRR): Whose brainchild was this month-long art event at The Pen?

Richie Lerma (RS): It came at a time when Salcedo Auctions wanted a new home for our art event, The Well-Appointed Life. For the past three years, we used to have it at Rockwell. But ever since Rockwell Tent was taken down, there wasn’t enough space anymore. So we thought what could be the place that embodies that sense of history, tradition, a love for the art and obviously the standard of excellence and quality — then we thought of The Peninsula. For the entire month, starting Sept. 1 there will be this architectural installation, a physical manifestation of a hologram. A hologram that reflects the architecture of the hotel. It will also symbolize the four different auction categories and present them of course to the wide range of people that come through the doors of the hotel.

JRR: What inspired that particular design?

Karen Lerma (KL): Well, we we’re working very closely with Cyndi Fernandez in terms of the requirements like what kind of impression we wanted to have, we wanted it to embody the well-appointed life, we wanted it to have an impact.

RL: Karen is being very modest because in the beginning when we were talking about the well-appointed life,  the first thing that came to mind was her favorite place, the  Palace of Versailles. It could be a place where they could be themselves but at the same time they led a very well-appointed life so the structure of it went very well because that idea  also goes very well with The Peninsula; especially the marble, the balustrades, the mirrors, there are aspects of it that are quite Versailles. I liked the idea of a Pavilion, so that’s where it started and Cyndi developed it, taking into consideration that we do not impede the flow in the lobby.

KL: It stands out but at the same time it blends.

RL:  It will still be understated.

JRR: The phrase “well-appointed life,” who coined it?

RL:  I’m glad you asked that, not many know this but the very first auction that we had seven years ago was called “The Well-Appointed Life.” And in that particular auction, we had all the various categories. This was the time the idea of having auctions was just beginning. So Karen and I, in one sale, decided to put together different categories of collectible pieces — art, jewelry, furniture, some books, few maps, etc. I think, in trying to coin a term that would encapsulate that, we came up with the title, “The Well-Appointed Life.” Also, during that very first auction seven years ago, a still relatively unknown artist by the name of Ronald Ventura had an artwork in the auction where he presented a beautiful woman, very elegantly dressed, carrying a crocodile bag. It wasn’t titled and he gave us the liberty to give it a title — we called that painting, The Well-Appointed Life and that name stuck and we never had another Well-Appointed Life auction until such time when we came up with the idea of having an entire weekend of auctions and we thought back to the title of our very first auction. That was years ago, so that would’ve been in 2013.

JRR: What to you is a well-appointed life?

RL:  Well, it’s more than the acquisition of objects. The well-appointed life to me is the way of seeing, a way of really looking at the world. It’s about values, values that we place in objects of beauty, the joy that we derive from not being surrounded by these objects of beauty but learning more about these pieces and knowing about their history, knowing about why things are valuable because you appreciate the workmanship, you appreciate the stories behind these pieces. There’s really a certain joy.

JRR: So, she (the woman in Ventura’s painting) lives a well-appointed life?

RL: Of course, the reality that we live in is we’re surrounded by objects, things of beauty. But I don’t think it it should stop there. Somebody who lives a well-appointed life is somebody who goes beyond the material and looks at the intrinsics of the piece. One who just does not surround oneself  with pieces, but does so  because they’re meaningful pieces. You’re not just collecting a Joya because it’s a Joya, but you also understand why a Joya is a Joya, that’s our job. You’re collecting Joya because Joya was an artist who represented the firmament of Philippine artistry in the 1960s. He was the pioneer of abstraction, and if you understand that, you have to love that.

JRR: How about you Karen? What’s the well-appointed life to you?

KL: For me, it’s being able to appreciate the innate beauty in things and life in general. Similar to what Richie said that things are not taken on face value but you actually appreciate the thought process, the work behind it, the story. It’s like there’s actually life in those pieces, stories beyond things for show and display. It connects us well to the reason why we started Salcedo Auctions.

RL: If you don’t know the stories behind it, it can lose its value. It doesn’t have significance anymore to our lives and so I think it’s our responsibility to bring that story out there, because without that they will simply be things and life isn’t just simply about things. What add value to our lives are the stories we pass down through generations. I know it sounds very esoteric but I think there’s great proof to that and that’s what gives life substance.

JRR: Are you looking at one day buying an old house in Manila and making it the home of The Well-Appointed Life? Like a restored mansion, a firehouse, a theater?

RL: It’s a possibility. It would be the next step. We are eight years now and we are already bursting at the seams with all the objects being brought to us.

(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com.)

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