ART TALK: Traversing the River of Creative Generations

(Curatorial notes for the 1st Mindanao Art Fair, Exhibit, and Conference)

Headwaters emanate from above, higher than where many of us are. These trickle down in brooks and streams until they converge in rivers that bring the water to the sea. From the sea they evaporate and return to the headwaters to come down anew in an ever-evolving cycle, a seemingly endless circle of life.

The River Of Life

In Mindanao, every major region and city has its own mighty river, twisting and turning throughout the landscapes. The rivers cut through farms, towns, and cities, bringing life as they flow on, endlessly – among them, the Rio Grande de Mindanao, Agusan, the Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Tagum, Libuganon, rivers named after the places they flow through. From the headwaters, whether it be in Northern, Central, Western, or Southern Mindanao, they run down over long expanses, seemingly anointing every part of the land.

The water that flows on out to the sea, passes every pebble, sand, rocks, roots, and fallen trees only once, nurturing life in its every twist and turn, never returning in its present form but ever evolving in a continuous cycle of evaporation and condensation.

The Ecosystem Of Art

The ecosystem that nurtures these bodies of water dictates how the rivers can nurture the lands and the people. They come down in rampaging floods from mountains that have suffered abuse. They wind down and provide much-needed clear water to the people when nature is taken care of. But the direction is clear, whether the water comes rampaging or in steady streams, they all flow downward to bigger bodies and communities downstream.

It’s much like art and inspiration. Each art piece captures a moment of inspiration that flows on to bigger streams of creativity. When these streams converge in bigger groups, they become art movements and genres, gathering more followers and believers and then passing on as inspirations or lessons for the generations still to come. But the art movements and genres that are grounded on the people’s cultures and identities are the ones that survive the ravages of time and changing tastes, in bodies of works that outlive each and every artist. These form part of an endless circle of creativity that is never the same at every twist and turn and cycle, even when preserved and studied.

Different But One

Individual artists shine, art movements grab the public’s attention, organizations thrive and wane. But when we look at these with an all-seeing eye, we are but one: An ecosystem of identities, ideas, cultures, influences, and commerce, either vibrant or dull depending on how these are nourished through bodies of work and inspirations, that define us as a people, as of one land.

Artists come and go in steady streams of creativity. Artworks flourish drawing inspiration from the source, the headwaters, the wellspring, and then pass on to become the inspiration, the headwaters, the wellspring, in a never-ending cycle.

The 1st Mindanao Art Fair, Exhibit, and Conference 2019 (MindanaoArt 2019) not only endeavors to direct Mindanao artists into nurturing what is unique in them – their identity as Mindanawons – but also bring appreciation for what is uniquely Mindanao: the culture, our people, our stories, our expressions.

Inviting you all to the first ever
Mindanao Art Fair and Exhibit
on OCTOBER 5-6 at the Atrium, GMALL of DAVAO
with Participating Art Galleries and Art Groups:
Gallery Down South
Tabula Rasa Art Gallery
Bintana Art Gallery
Piguras Davao
Art Portal Gallery for Contemporary Art
Datu Bago Gallery and Cafe
Talaandig Soil Painters
Capitol University Museum of Three Cultures
Likha-Caraga and
Ateneo de Zamboanga Gallery of the Peninsula and the Archipelago

Presented to you by: The National Commission for Culture and the Arts- National Committee on Art Galleries and Lawig-Diwa.

See you there!!!

(Stella A. Estremera, former Editor in Chief of SunStar Davao, continues to write a column for the paper. She is secretary/treasurer of Lakbay-Diwa, the organizer of the 1st Mindanao Art Fair and Exhibit. Estremera also paints)