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Art beyond the galleries

Art in the Park invite, with art by Dex Fernandez.
The past two years of going around art exhibits and events have taught me two things. One, no matter how much I love a work of art, I will never be able to afford it. Such is the tragedy of my writing about art: spectatorship isn’t ownership unless I delude myself into thinking exactly that. Two, pre-exhibit write-ups aren’t my cup of tea. Many people are trained and/or like this kind of writing; I feel like it impedes upon my spectatorship of any art form. But there is one event I can’t resist, and that is the Art in the Park project of the Museum Foundation of the Philippines. It might be because of the lightness with which art is spoken of here, or maybe the fact that it brings art outside the galleries and makes it a public Saturday event, at the Velasquez Salcedo Park in Makati and nearby spaces. It even brings back Concert in the Park, with jazz musicians performing this year. It’s also this year that there’s an excitement in the variety unlike ever before. At a table in a quiet French restaurant, the women of Art in the Park and plenty of us female writers laughed and chatted like giddy schoolgirls. Except that we were talking about art and not boys, or whatever else it is that young girls talk about these days. We were talking about the artists who are part of Art in the Park this year, and the possibilities of art promotion it creates, regardless of where the art comes from. Case in point, Jesuit priest Fr. Jason Dy who created a gallery out of his Sacred Heart Parish garage in Cebu, is sending over works by Cebuano artists he has informally organized. A Cebu stall can only be interesting, yes? And reminiscent of the Neo-Angono Artists Collective which is practically a staple in Art in the Park.
Junjun Sta. Ana's digital art prints will be at the Avellana Art Gallery booth.
This year, little-known art town Malabon will also be represented by the artist group Parokyano ng Malabon. The Mighty Bhutens from Baguio and Nineveh Art Space from Laguna complete the spaces and regions outside of Manila that will necessarily scream: Reprezent! But what could only be more exciting about new art discoveries are the countless student works that will fill various booths from the Fine Arts Programs of the Technological University of the Philippines (TUP), the University of Sto. Tomas (UST), and the University of the Philippines (UP). There was light in the eyes of UST painting majors JR Sotillo, King Aragones and Roxanne Mae Tan as they talked about creating their own art for this year’s Art in the Park. That is, they tell me, art that’s different and distinct from their class requirements, art that’s separate from school but is borne of it. There is an amount of confidence that young art students are capable of, an amount of certainty in knowing the right words, seeing the right things, in art and the world. This can only be refreshing for the jaded spectator. This is really what Art in the Park allows: a refreshing departure from the usual ways in which we exhibit art in this country, a once-a-year chance to own some art most of us wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. Art in the Park is a happy thing even for the jaded, because it allows a greater number of people to live with art for a day, and maybe even take some of it home.
Artist Leeroy New will be installing his work at the Picasso Boutique Residences this year.
It’s also one day when various galleries and artists come together and create an art haven: with music and camaraderie that’s bound by a love for art and culture that’s ours. This year it is even bigger, literally. Art in the Park spreads its wings to include not just the Jaime Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village Makati, but also other spaces. Picasso Boutique Service Residences along L.P. Leviste will be the space for Leeroy New, Dan Matutina, Jonathan Ching and Brendale Tadeo works; Apartment 1B along San Agustin will be home to the works of Katya Guerrero and At Maculangan.
Riel Hilario's wooden sculptures will be at the Art Informal booth.
At the Salcedo Auctions on Tordesillas will be a lecture on art conservation, to be done by the historical conservationist of the Basilica de San Sebastian, Tina Paterno. Save for the latter which happens at 4:30 p.m., the art exhibitions will be happening simultaneously with the celebration at the Velasquez Salcedo Park, which will be filled with every imaginable gallery and artists group. While it’s entirely possible that I still won’t have the money for art then, Art in the Park is still the space for a different kind of spectatorship, if not a distinct one. One where established artists touch base with their audience, and new ones just fill the air with creative energy. One where art cuts across every kind of art there is on our shores these days: everything from children’s book illustrators to street art, from the ones who doodle to the ones who paint on t-shirts. One where music and art, space and food coalesce into a party at the park. One where everyone has a right to be, even spectators who don’t have the wherewithal to enter a gallery or museum, and across all the kinds of artists that this nation cradles. Once a year, Art in the Park gives us the gift of Pinoy art. It’s one that we shouldn’t refuse. — HS, GMA News Art in the Park is on February 19, 2011, from 2PM to 10PM, at the Velasquez Salcedo Park, Makati City. It’s organized by the Museum Foundation of the Philippines, Inc. This year they are raising funds to fix up a room at the National Museum for the works of national artist Botong Francisco.