Wednesday, March 25, 2015

ART | The blockbuster that was Art in the Park 2015

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A sampling of eye candies at this year's Art in the Park, at least two of which now have new homes (*wink wink*).

It was exactly 364 days of waiting since the first time I've been to Art in the Park, an annual one-day event organized by the Museum Foundation of the Philippines Inc. and Philippine Art Events Inc. where affordable artwork is sold. Set in, er, a park, the event has consistently been attracting a sizeable crowd eager to buy or simply peruse works of art from big-named and independent art galleries, art schools, and other groups.

Kwittiegirl was with me this time around and we both joined in the legions of people who trooped to the Jaime Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village, Makati City last Sunday, March 22. We arrived at around 11 in the morning and the place was already packed. Although the country's most significant affordable art fair wasn't scheduled to open until 10am, there were reportedly already hordes of people waiting outside the park's gates as early as 8am. Unbelievable!

Art in the Park 2015 felt all too familiar to me. Aside from the heat and humidity -- which prompted me to wear a tank top and folded jeans -- it still had that same hip and frenetic vibe with dozens of participating galleries and groups showcasing a diverse array of artworks. The hurried feel was evident among people like us who were eager to snag the best possible art pieces before someone else beats you to them. With such a huge number of people in attendance, those manning the tents were definitely harassed, though I'd bet they were happy with their sales.

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Some may be strolling in a leisurely pace but there was a palpable frenzy in the air.

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Art: Live! Some artists creating art on a blank white wall as the day progressed.

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The insanely long line for cotton candy.

The live music was still there, as were the food stalls, which noticeably grew in number from what I remember last year. Even the cotton candy art was back! And no surprise, there was a really long queue.

Here's what else was there:

Art installations
Pete Jimenez was back with another "Iron Will" exhibit of every conceivable contraption from repurposed iron and metal. It could be that his assigned spot was bigger and much better then that I thought last year's staging had more impact, but Jimenez's pieces were nonetheless still impressive despite the small corner he was relegated to this year. His rendition of Ikabod Bubwit was simply adorable.

Since we no longer waited for nightfall, I wasn't able to see how Derek Tumala's "Polyflora" installation looked like when lit. At daytime his angular, shiny-gold interpretations of flowers were barely noticeable amid all the park's greenery, so I was hoping to see them finally take the stage at night. Missed opportunity there.

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A sampling of Tumala's flora, hidden among the park's own flora.

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A few of Jimenez's "Iron Will" creations. Ingenious how an old motorcycle gas tank became a peacock's breast. But what I really liked was this piece with an oversized jackstone on the right.

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Hey, even cats appreciate Jimenez's art!

There was at least one other installation, a vinyl on vinyl interpretation of a giant Rubik's cube. Created by Dennis Bato and Jood Clarino, it featured a few small flatscreens. The duo called it "ReciproCITY."

Pete Jimenez wasn't the only artist who pounded, twisted, and welded metal for this year's Art in the Park. Made of either iron, brass, or copper, I saw everything from metal sculptures to lamps and other decorative pieces throughout the park.

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Such beauties. I reckon they'd be perfect atop an executive's dark hardwood desk.

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A faucet spouting metal, that's cool. The creations on the right exude a more elegant vibe, however, one of which is fitted with an LED light.

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Creatures of the sea gone wild: fish flying in the air and a giant squid on dry land.

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Impressive detailing on the bug. The whimsical chair, on the other hand, was already sold to an actress according to a note taped to it.

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Bats have turned into acroBATS -- and how! They're so cute I had to restrain myself. We weren't able to resist this gorgeous iron feline by Ram Mallari on the right, however.

Prints were definitely making their presence felt at this year's event, with everything from geometric patterns to multi-layered prints. There was also at least one gallery devoted entirely to nothing but prints.

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Prints everywhere.

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Hypnotic and lifelike.

These aren't Marvel or DC action figures. Nevertheless, there was a great variety of sculptures and figures either elegant, cute, or quirky that altogether cater to different tastes in art.

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Quirky and cute.

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The bulul, which are sold everywhere in the Ifugao region, given a shiny and contemporary update. To me it doesn't work much to have just one; probably at least three for maximum visual impact.

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Take your pick. The big-eyed ones at the bottom appeal to me more.

Other media
One gallery devoted itself to showcasing everything that is pottery, from usable plates and dining ware to vases and other decorative items. As with last year, I also saw a couple of lightboxes although like the bulul, I think they work better when you mount more than one piece on a wall.

Papier-mâché creations were likewise lurking around in some of the tents, along with other works fashioned out of multiple materials. Even fashion was represented at the art fair via costume jewelry, knits, hats, and t-shirts. Yes, a basic tee can also be a canvas for some art, which reminds me I haven't bought any. I mean, I thought about it but that intent got lost somehow amid all the frenzy.

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Lightboxes and clay creations.

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A knitwear installation at one of the tents. I loved the quirky designs being sold but lamented the fact that they only had stuff for women. As for the right photo, I guess it's meant to be a wall decor or something.

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Papier-mâché horses peering out of bayongs, still unpainted. At the bottom are two wall decors fashioned out of wood, foam, and cloth. I thought they'd also look good on our couch.

Paintings and drawings
Of course there were paintings. I don't think any art fair would be complete without them. No surprise, paintings probably represented the majority of the artworks showcased and sold at Art in the Park. From traditional to contemporary, there was something for everyone.

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This one's a stunner, though it wouldn't work with all the other stuff that we already have.

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Hey look, Sheldon's here!

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These two Kwittiegirl and I really liked. Unfortunately the one on the left was already taken and we thought it had to be both or nothing.

Mixed media
While artists usually work with just one medium like oil, acrylic, or water color in a single painting, there will be times when they combine two or more materials and techniques in a single artwork.

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I liked this one, where the artist incorporated screens/nets with whatever paint was used.

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More mixed media. Notice the shells in the bottom photo.

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Colors galore!

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Photograph-like creations.

Photos, mostly framed, were also sold. Some purists may insist that photography is not art but a technology, I believe it is art. Heck, there was even one booth that was selling pieces created entirely on Photoshop!

No, I don't mean there were actual cats sold at Art in the Park. I just couldn't help but notice how a considerable number of artworks were centered on felines. I suppose a lot of artists must be cat persons.

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From realistic captures of cat behavior to stylized renditions of our furry friends, there was just a lot of cat around. I sure was amused with the pooping kitty.

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More cats. And at least one dog.

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And even more kitties.

To be fair, there were also some pieces on dogs. I even got one, a pastel on sandpaper Doberman by Cornelius Acasio. "I must love Dobermans," exclaimed the gallery lady, to which I replied, "I got bitten by one."

Wood was also a prominent medium at the art fair, primarily in the form of sculptures. We actually took home two creations (because again, we thought having just one wouldn't work) by Boni Juan, who, interestingly is also a production designer.

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A visually intriguing woodwork at the fair.

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You gotta admire the intricate details on that church facade and belfry. Also, those bicycle figures are dope.

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Carve it or draw on it; that's wood for you.

Despite the Php 10,000 increase in the maximum price of artworks from last year's Php 30,000, Art in the Park is still the go-to event for affordable art. If the estimated 14,000 crowd for 2015 isn't any indication, then I don't know what is. For a once-a-year 12-hour event, that's a whole lot of people and what probably anyone would call a resounding success.

It was tiring, yes, but it sure was a good couple of hours for us. We may have failed in our hopes of snagging a Dino Gabito, or even one of Kevin Balboa's experimental 3D creations, but we were still happy with our loot.

The two guys I mentioned are young, up-and-coming artists represented by Metro Gallery. Balboa is is the artist responsible for the lone artwork I got from last year's Art in the Park while Gabito is the man behind the "Shroud" series I've been lusting after for so long. We've been on Gabito's wait list since last year and only God knows when we can finally get hold of one of his paintings. I also hope to own one of Balboa's next 3D creations.

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With artist Boni Juan, holding up the pieces we got like prized trophies.

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Kwittiegirl and I taking turns for photos with up-and-coming artists Dino Gabito (left) and Kevin Balboa (right) at the Metro Gallery tent.

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Our Art in the Park 2015 loot.

And the countdown to 2016 begins!


  1. the winged chair looks great as an art piece....but i prefer it just as a regular chair. reminds me of chairs in my grandparents house in the province.

    1. same here. it's nice but not very functional IMO.


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