Who will be the next art superstars at Art in the Park?
SUBLIMINAL - Carlomar Arcangel Daoana (The Philippine Star) - March 27, 2016 - 10:00am

Artists, who want to have a crack at the art scene, usually rely on gallery representation for their first break. Given the limited number of galleries (not to mention their long waiting lists), it may seem a formidable — if not a heart-sinking — task looking for and connecting with an audience. Enter Art in the Park.

Art in the Park, which will take place this Sunday (April 3), from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., at the Jaime Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village, Makati City, has been providing artists of all stripes — especially those who have yet to be featured in a one-man show — the platform to showcase their works and test their artistic ideas to thousands of people.

One such artist is Richard Quebral, whose mixed media prints will be sold through Metro Gallery. Based in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Richard first showcased his work at Art in the Park in 2012, with modest expectations as to its reception. Characterized by seemingly random elements — a rectangle of swimming pool, a knife, a drowned woman — his work easily won an audience for its subtle tensions and eerie narrative made more haunting by the vast swathes of space. “My exposure started at Art in the Park,” says Richard, who is now preparing for his first solo show. “It helped me a lot; now I even do commissioned works.”

Unlike in other art fairs in which galleries feel challenged to come up with curatorially tight shows, the casual, laidback atmosphere of Art in the Park encourages them to feature as many works of artists as their booths allow to address different inclinations and sensibilities. “We have students from University of the Philippines, we have artists who are 60 plus years old, and everybody in between,” says Dawn Atienza, director of Tin-Aw Gallery. “That’s always how we’ve done it since nine years ago.”

Since there are many represented artists — with each having his own vision and take on the world — the fair becomes “a huge exhibit,” says Chitty Cometa of Metro Gallery. “Hindi ka puwedeng magbigay ng basta-basta (You simply can’t give poor work).” In addition, the fair, says Dawn, becomes an opportune time for artists to be experimental. “We tell them to play. We tell them to be brave. If an artist wants to start a new series, this is a good time to test it.”

Started 10 years ago and envisioned as a leisurely Sunday stroll, now Art in the Park (www.artinthepark.ph) is anything but. Last year, people were already milling about or having breakfast near the area as early as six in the morning, only to descend in droves when gates opened at 10. “I think people take it in good humor,” says Lisa Ongpin-Periquet, a co-founder of Philippine Art Events which also organizes Art Fair Philippines. “We want to give everybody an equal chance.”

While the audience has exponentially grown through the years, Art in the Park has remained, according to Lisa, “a treasure hunt,” in which no work costs more than P40,000. One can walk away with a work in ink on paper or a photograph for a less than a thousand pesos. Art in the Park is the country’s de facto affordable art fair.

Having a price limit, says Trickie Lopa, another co-founder (with Dindin Araneta making the triumvirate), is important “in the sense that artists are forced to think how their works can fit into that cap. Another reason is that it makes it more attractive. The whole point of Art in the Park is to discover new talent, to expose new galleries and new artists to people who are interested in art.”

To celebrate its 10th year, Art in the Park reproduces signed limited-edition prints from the 10 artists whose artworks have adorned the fair’s postcard invitations over the years, including Charlie Co, Joy Mallari, Jomike Tejido, Pete Jimenez, Rodel Tapaya, and Marina Cruz. In addition, a special exhibition will feature the wax sculptures of Daniel dela Cruz — life-size figures to be lit up and melt away like candles.

A decade after, Trickie is proud that they are still in tune with their vision of bringing art to people as well as helping the National Museum of the Philippines through the Museum Foundation. She recalls, from the fair’s initial salvo, how Boston Gallery and Art Informal (which had to share a booth) sold works of Rodel Tapaya starting at P3,000 and how Maria Taniguchi, Patty Eustaquio and Louie Medina — recognizable names all — manned their own booth.  “There was one year, I remember it was 2008, Big and Small’s booth was Ronald Ventura’s. They were small works, each at P8,000.” Now, a Tapaya or a Ventura is nowhere near that mark, with a sizable work easily exceeding millions. Who knows who will be the next art superstars to emerge from Art in the Park?





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