Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Soaking in Art at the Park

JT Gonzales - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Thunderstorms and muddy grounds didn’t stand a chance against Manila’s  art  creme de la creme, who were raring to snap up affordable  art  at  the latest incarnation of  Art  in  the  Park.

 Held on a muggy Saturday  at  the  Jaime Velasquez  Park  that, for one dismal hour, suffered pelting rains that turned  the  immaculate grounds to slush,  the  dismal weather failed to deter  the  weekenders, as  the  joyous celebration of  artists  and their creations lured them irresistibly in.

 Dr. Joven Cuanang, benefactor of  the  latest destination museum, Pinto  Art  Museum in Antipolo, was proudly beaming beside his Boston Gallery booth, which showcased his stable of talents.Canvas Gallery proprietor Gigo Alampay hovered near his stall, while Chitti Cometa of Metro Gallery had her hands full trying to keep up with  the  demands of greedy patrons.

 Indeed, all  the  schools of thought were pretty much represented in  the  cross-section of galleries, with Vinyl on Vinyl and Secret Fresh on  the  pop youth end of  the  spectrum, and  Art  Verite and Silverlens on  the  more sober, adult-oriented swing of  the  pendulum.But no matter  the  persuasion or  the temperament,  the  selections were there to appeal to  the  buyers, and if one did not like surreal, there were abstracts or realists aplenty.

 The  Fine  Arts  departments of leading schools like  the  University of Sto. Tomas and Technological University of  the  Philippines let their students have their first taste of success or failure, as booths from  art  schools competed with established galleries.

 The  Visayas was represented by  at  least two outfits:  the  Orange Gallery (with guru Charlie Co leading  the  Bacolod delegation of Negrense  artists, including Raymond Legaspi, Roderick Tijing and Dennis Ascalon) and Cebu Contemporary, representing young  artists  such as, surprise surprise, Vanessa Amman, former Ms. Cebu finalist.

 Nearby, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala strolled along with a little shadow in tow, while Ricky Carandang and Ces Orena Drilon sipped delish alky  at  the Straits Wine booth manned by  the  dashing Spencer Ty.Designers Rajo Laurel and James Reyes kept their followers up to date with regular posts in the  facebook and twitter accounts, and meanwhile  the  rest of  the  world just imbibed  the  generally convivial atmosphere that was  the  fair.

 Dotting  the  park  were metal sculptures fashioned by Pete Jimenez, while plastic was  the  material of choice of Mac Valedezco, who lent huge objets for further atmospheric effect.

 Some notables from  the  thousands of works on display (and one has to realize that there was no chance to view all of them, as  art  works were snapped up from opening hour and carted off before they could even be seen by other buyers) included a powerful 12 x 24 oil piece by Melanio Bualauitan entitled “Persuasion”, which depicted a face scrunched up against water liberally flowing on brows and cheeks and mouth,  the  stream of water depicted so realistically that it was breathtaking.

 Astrid Castillo contributed a potent rendition of just  the  lower half of a beautiful face, but a golden zipper snaps  the  mouth shut.

 The  message was obvious: secrets stay secret.This piece will soon grace  the  walls of a young plastic surgeon - a soothing reminder to clients worried about  the  privacy of their tummy tucks and face lifts.

 On  the  pop  art  realm, delightful examples could be seen with architect by profession Hilario “Doods” Campos III’s quirky watercolor entitled “Liberty”, a hilarious rendition of a gigantic carrot (or was that a bird) riding a canary yellow jeepney bound for Libertad.This was a fine sample of  the  works that had led  the  Bangko Sentral museum curator to eye Campos’ works last year.Meanwhile, Bacolod  artist  Jay-r Delleva teased with  “The  Proposed Victim”, an acrylic version of a colorful kid clown holding on to an even more delightful gunmetal silver bunny balloon.  The  title begged a deeper introspection into  the  message of  the  painting: it wasn’t just a cute candy piece, but a reminder, perhaps, of what could tempt a kidnapper or trigger a bullying.

The  buying was furious,  the  art  was hot, and  the  event, a roaring success.If anything, this proved that Philippine market for  art  is vibrant, and thirsty for  the  next big name.Whether a lucky buyer was able to snag a windfall from  the  next Amorsolo, we’ll have to wait with bated breath, as “starving”  artists  wait for their turn to step into  the  spotlight.Meanwhile,  art  lovers would do well to already plug into their calendars  the  next edition of Art  in  the  Park, same time next year.

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