Going beyond museums

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 March) — Gone are the days when art was strictly confined in museums or meant to be enjoyed by the more privileged.

These days, a larger segment of the general public is becoming witness to the efforts of Davao artists and private organizations to bring art more closer to the community.

Public events and exhibits staged in places of convergence (especially those that are held to coincide with the upcoming Araw ng Dabaw) continue make art concepts more tangible and accessible.

One of the notable examples of these is the Davao Art Market that opened on Monday in SM Lanang Premier.

Bai Manginsay (right) draws a portrait of a mall goer seated next to his artworks Marilyn and Coffee Couple
Bai Manginsay (right) draws a portrait of a mall goer seated next to his artworks Marilyn and Coffee Couple

The event, which runs until the 15th, showcases works of seven local artists/art groups. Exhibitors include Mishael Pueblas, Artlink, Tanya Gaisano-Lee, Daryl Descallar, Gil Bumanlag, School of Fine Arts and Design of Philippine Women’s College of Davao, and Tabula Rasa.

Dynamic objective

The Davao Art Market initially aimed to give artists a platform to showcase their works and move the cogs of the business component of art production, said Russel Alaba, SM Supermalls AVP for marketing Mindanao.

But as they developed the event, up until the day it was staged, he said that the artists and the mall transcended their initial objective.

“The Davao Art Market brought out Davao’s best foot forward,” Alaba said. “We gave a platform for homegrown artists to make their creations accessible to the local market.” The art market further explored the idea of putting spotlight on original artworks by contemporary artists.

The close to 200 pre-curated artworks displayed by the artists reflect the soul of the city—it also gives the audience a glimpse of the modern modes of thinking of the Davaoenos.

This Araw ng Dabaw, Alaba said that it’s only fitting that they equally give attention to visual arts as much as they focus on fashion, food, and music. He said that other than the usual tourist spots in the city, there is so much to discover and these include the works of artists that are in the “now.”

Contemporary and for everyone

For instance, there’s Bai Manginsay’s study of bright colors in a Marilyn Monroe pop art-esque portrait; Bai, on Monday’s opening also held live portrait painting sessions. Bai is a founding member of the Tabula Rasa group of artists.

Brando Cedeño’s horse sculptures like the Horse Polo and Stallions in stone cast resin show movement and life in an empty slab. The self-taught sculptor with a fine arts background said that he is captivated by wildlife subjects that exude power and elegance. Brando is also a member of Tabula Rasa.

Tanya Gaisano-Lee
Tanya Gaisano-Lee

Tanya Gaisano-Lee’s Flexible Fatty Series show a plus-sized woman figure doing yoga poses. These are rendered in bright rainbow colors with shapes that accentuate weight and volume of the subject, whilst maintaining the light and graceful approach to the yoga lifestyle.

On making art accessible and tangible to the public, Alaba had this to say: times have changed from when art was something that’s only enjoyed exclusively by the high society. “By making art “tangible” and actually seen in places where people converge like in an SM mall, viewers get to share the daily life observations of artists.”

The displayed works, he said, zoom into seemingly ordinary visions and making something extraordinary out of them.

Alaba said that by simply having artworks displayed in public, everyone gets to see the creative process that results in causing viewers to “take a moment to appreciate what’s before you.”

“Contemporary art makes you see it for what it is—and what it could possibly be,” he said. “By doing so, people get to learn from the displayed artworks, reflect on what they see, while discovering more things about themselves in the process.”

The Davao Art Market furthers the idea that art is no longer confined to museums anymore; the displays in SM Lanang’s atrium give everyone that kind of experience.

In the end, displayed artworks in the mall become more than just “sophisticated” merchandise with a price tag–these become tangible items that create human connection. (Jesse Pizarro Boga/MindaNews)