MANILA, Philippines - This is not a story about your usual kind of art exhibit.
No, this isn’t about the pretentious reputation high art has, with an exclusive guest list that includes people to whom Dali and Picasso are more than just names in history. It doesn’t involve the intimidating atmosphere of galleries and the aroma of foie gras and caviar. Also, it doesn’t have the price tag worth millions of pesos.
Which isn’t to say this exhibit doesn’t feature the best art from the best artists. This particular exhibit features works from Filipino greats, hung on the walls of some of the best museums and galleries in the country.
This is about an exhibit where the ambience is inviting, with fresh air (as fresh as Makati gets) as a backdrop instead of the scent of varnish and polish. This is about an exhibit for the everyman, where pretension is replaced by a warm glow of solidarity. In this exhibit, the most expensive piece is P30,000 but most sell far below that price.
This is, of course, about Art in the Park, to be held at the Jaime Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village, Makati today.
Art in the Park is a project of the Museum Foundation of the Philippines that began in 2006 with an aim to make art more accessible. As the name suggests, pieces are brought outside the gallery and into the non-threatening environment of the park to bring art to a wider audience. In their first year, the event was an intimate gathering of three tents and 12 exhibitors, but this grew to its current number of over 40 participants — a collection of artists, art groups, fine art schools and galleries, which the famed National Museum is joining for the first time.
The appeal of Art in the Park is its lack of pretension. By limiting prices to P30,000, more people can afford to have masterpieces in their homes.
Below is a cheat sheet of the event, with a list of selected participants and what you can expect from them:
Avellana Art Gallery
Avellana Art Gallery is known for its breakfast exhibit launches where guests view new art over breakfast and sparkling wine. The gallery features abstract expressionist work by young artists and moves away from trendy talents. Every year, an exhibit from the gallery is shortlisted for the Ateneo Art Awards, which is a feat in itself.
The National Museum is the country’s official museum where prized works from grand masters are deposited. Its most famous work is Juan Luna’s “Spoliarium,” but we doubt that you could get this for less than P30,000. The National Museum is home to 3,000 pieces of images and sculptures spanning centuries from the most famous names in Philippine art.
The famed store in the Ronac Art Center is known for its quirky Japanese toys, self-produced clothing and surreal and colorful street art. Illustrator JP Cuison, known for his Meiday and Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank posters is known to exhibit his works here. If you are a fan of zany, out-of-this-world designs, Secret Fresh is where it’s at.
The name suggests a relaxed experience and Art Informal provides just that, its spacious area a converted home. It strongly supports sculptural works, especially stoneware.
Delirium [Design & Art]
Much like Secret Fresh, their products are for a more adventurous client, but theirs are more of a practical nature, from the lamp shaped like a burning heart to the ashtray in the form of a human jaw. Their pieces have a touch of the religious but are offbeat in the oh-my-god-where-did-you-get-that kind of way.
TutoK is a collective of artists from different fields that gathers to tackle social issues like human rights violation, crises, and Philippine history and education. The artists come from different backgrounds and styles, but perhaps the most controversial member is Mideo Cruz, who is known for his Kulo exhibit. If Mideo Cruz is a point of comparison, expect works from TutoK to be provocative but socially relevant.
The gallery is known for its top-notch photography, but equally interesting is the Silverlens Lab, a space featuring edgier work from younger artists. Both show works done by a range of talents, from the internationally acclaimed to those who have not exhibited yet. They showcase a wide array of works, from painting to installation and video, and the gallery is known for participating in important regional art fairs in the US and Europe.
CANVAS artworks are heavily Filipino from its themes to its style. The organization prides itself on the Romeo Forbes Children’s Literature Initiative, one of the country’s best writing competitions where a young Filipino artist is commissioned to create a painting and participants are asked to write a children’s story based on it. A purchase of a CANVAS piece is used to promote awareness of art and culture through the publication of children’s books, so if you have a charitable heart, make sure to pick up a piece here.
Tin-Aw Gallery specializes in idealistic works filled with social commentary, with renowned artists like Mark Justiniani, Joy Mallari, Ferdie Montemayor and Alfredo Esquillo Jr. leading the pack.
Leeroy New burst into the international scene when he designed the muscle dress Lady Gaga wore on the single cover of Marry The Night. Since then, Leeroy has attracted attention for his otherworldly designs of “reefs” and other alien structures fans of Louie Cordero would love. For Art in the Park, he will provide a roving exhibit — of what, we don’t know, but we’re pretty sure it’s going to be awesome.