Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Arlene Esperida and her ATC movement

Arlene Esperida is a Japan-based artist who I met at the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) conference in Manila in '03, if my memory is having a good day. Somewhere in our house in Baguio is a painting of hers, mainly in orange, with biomorphic forms.

Since then, we rediscovered one another when I still had a Facebook account. Then we embarked on this small project of helping democratize art through artist trading cards or ATCs. I started one with the Baguio Aquarelle Society in '09 or thereabouts (excuse the occasional lapse in factual or episodic memory; rest assured the associative or long memory is intact). For a time I was using these cards as my business cards, although more pragmatic friends would say, how come I have to make these one-of-a-kind cards, usually practice paintings in small sizes before I enlarge them, into business cards? In short, impractical, probably they're gauging the effort in terms of use of paint, images, etc.

Well, visual artists and writers make heroic choices every day, that's all I can say. Meanwhile, Arlene and I have corresponded by postal mail; so have Gladys Lyn "Nini" Teves Lapuz and I in the same fashion off and on for many years now.

Meanwhile, I've rid myself of the collecting bug but not yet in terms of ATCs. They're defined by this site http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Artist-Trading-Cards as having begun "in the tradition of business cards, but with a personal, artistic twist. Most ATCs are created on paper, but they may also be any other medium that can be worked in a suitable size. ATCs are traditionally the size of baseball cards and other trading cards. They're a fun way to exchange your own one-of-a-kind artistic flair with other artists you meet. You can also use them as business cards."

I am sharing part of my loot (a couple that my former classmate Potchie Lazaro swapped with my works ended up with Jessica Zafra--I knew she'd like his kapre and tikbalang). I encourage art students, or anyone interested in reviving "snail mail", to put more fun into something handmade. We all spend much too much time in front of our laptops and Netbooks (unwittingly, we expose ourselves to these machines' radiation, too). So here's to ATCs and how they've revived art in small sizes, penmanship, trips to the post office, among other heroic everyday choices.

The actual sizes of these ATCs are sometimes even smaller than the images below. Thank you, Arlene, Jenny Cariño, Norman Chow, Toottee Chanco-Pacis, Nini Lapuz, Sinag de Leon and other fellow swappers and pen pals.


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