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Art is good for the soul â more so during lockdown
Hera Gereine adds finishing touches to her Bed of Roses.

Art is good for the soul — more so during lockdown

NEW BEGINNINGS - Büm D. Tenorio Jr. (The Philippine Star) - July 24, 2020 - 12:00am

Hera Geriene kept a love affair while in a lockdown, and kept it away from her husband Marc. He joyfully discovered about it; and it was a love affair even her husband loved. After all, everything that Hera does is a moment for Marc to love her more.

At the height of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), Hera picked up again her paintbrushes and faced her canvas. (The first time she exhibited her artworks was in 2019.) A work of art emerged. A love affair ensued. Hera could not let go of her muse — she was smitten, she was on a roll, she ran after it. She did not stop with one painting in acrylic. During the lockdown, she finished nine paintings in the I Love Shoes series, four paintings in the Almost Perfect series, and one painting to comprise the Bed of Roses series.

She proves that art is good for the soul — especially during lockdown.

The closely-knit Geriene family pre-pandemic. Hera with husband Marc and children Mara and Jean.

“I had scheduled an art exhibit with chef Jessie Sincioco for the last quarter of 2020; however, that has been postponed indefinitely. In the meantime, I plan to exhibit my paintings online and fulfill requests for paintings for my friends as I have been doing commissioned work since my exhibit in 2019,” Hera begins.

Hera, a regular in the social scene in the city pre-pandemic, found herself tapping on her creative side all the more when she weathered the ECQ, even after it was eased down. Far away from her husband Marc and daughter Mara (who are quarantined in different cities in the US), she painted away in their condo unit in Makati. Many times, her only son Jean witnessed the genius that she splayed on her canvas.

“The quarantine has been difficult for everyone. Sometimes it felt like it was just unbearable,” Hera says.

The Gerienes are a closely knit, loving family. When Hera and Marc are coming home late and it is already past the bedtime of their grownup children, neither of their children will sleep without saying good night to their parents. Each “good night” is peppered with “I love yous” from both parties.

During the lockdown, Hera finished nine paintings in the I Love Shoes series and four paintings in the Almost Perfect series.

“Fortunately we have the communication technology that make us feel like we are together, even when we are apart. We have phone calls and text messages every day and a scheduled video group call every other day with Marc in Seattle, Mara in LA and Jean (an incoming Grade 10 student) and me in Manila,” she says. Marc is an American businessman who owns a company that designs and builds underwater robotics systems. Mara is an actress in Hollywood who recently portrayed the life of Selena Gomez in a documentary.

Hera has always loved the art “ever since I was a child.” Her first formal training was in the summer of 2000 when she attended classes at the Ayala Museum. Several years later, she began taking semi-private art lessons in her home with her good friends chef Jessie Sincioco and Yuri Singson.

“My first and most frequent inspirations have come from my travel experiences. I have always been an avid photographer and have kept photo albums from each of my trips. Several years ago, I began painting memories of my travels from photographs I took, and found the exercise to be a quite rewarding activity,” Hera explains.

Her first exhibit last year was titled Things I’ve Seen, Things I’ve Imagined, and Places I’ve Been. It was a successful exhibit of 32 paintings where Hera donated all the proceeds to Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“My other inspirations have been fueled by a fascination for exotic shoes, which are art forms themselves. An unexpected fulfillment has come from the acknowledgement of my friends who share the same fascination for shoes, and in turn, they like my paintings,” she says, her infectious smile almost coming out of the screen as we talked on Messenger video call.

Painting during quarantine “is all about the mood.” Hera says, “No mood, no painting! There have been many days when my inspiration to paint pushed through anyway.  Of course, washing hands multiple times a day and holding a paintbrush for hours dampened my will from time to time, and in turn my results. Still, though, it was a productive period.”

Her paintings of shoes — based on the drawings of Manolo Blahnik and other shoe designers — are a cornucopia of sophistication, of the artist’s flights of fancy. They evoke life — and how life should be lived. The colors are alive; the same colors that make up the life of Hera. Vibrant. Pulsating. Stirring. Animated. All those are also the characteristics of Hera’s kind and generous soul.

“Both my children are artists and my husband Marc was an art collector even before we were married. Fortunately, my family not only understands but appreciates the drive it takes to create art and the time it consumes. My husband and my children are very supportive of my avocation and provide constant encouragement, especially when my confidence needs a little boost,” Hera says.

Hera is a grateful artist. She concludes: “I owe it all to my husband.  He is the greatest guy I could have possibly imagined. And lucky for him, I found him; and he proposed to me. Let me rephrase that, he proposes to me every day!”

With love, Hera unleashes the artist in her all the more — the pandemic notwithstanding.

(For your new beginnings, e-mail me at bumbaki@yahoo.com. I’m also on Twitter @bum_tenorio and Instagram @bumtenorio. Have a blessed weekend!)

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