Saturday, October 31, 2015

Just get it done

"Don't think about making ART, just get it done." - Andy Warhol

I don't think Kai Myknonos Fernandez, age four and six months, knows Andy from Adam, but she sure practices what he tells fearful adults to do.

I'm featuring today two collaborations we did for "Sampayan Blues," an art (there, I used the sacred word "art") exhibition ongoing until Nov. 14 at the Santuary Gallery of Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary in Campo Sioco, Baguio City.

What I did was to collect her paintings and drawings. I enlarged the drawings, superimposing them on the colored background, then lined them in thick acrylic paints so their shapes will look more distinct. Later, I added some verses about those figures. Kind of like chromatext or ekphrasis poetry.

"Lavender and Blue Storm," mixed media on paper

give me lavender
give me blue
has the storm of colors stopped
look! the wind
carried off
your friend
Serene McJean

"Oval and Round," mixed media on paper

roundly let me
circle you,
darling dumpling,
dear sugar
let me oval
this arm
to fit you,
you cookie dough
cut into
your mother's likeness

Friday, October 30, 2015

What else will we play next?

These served as my welcome remarks at the opening of "Sampayan Blues," my ninth solo exhibition at the Sanctuary Gallery inside the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary on North Santo Tomas Road, Campo Sioco, Baguio. The show of paintings and installation ends on Nov. 24. Come visit!

Kept it place by clothespins are the paintings "The Laughing Matryoshkas" and "Be Salt, Be Light, Be Seamstress, Be Doll."

The untitled installation in the middle of the gallery and surrounded by 18 paintings

Portrait of the artist by EV Espiritu and floating above an old wash basin and borne aloft by chipboard "bubbles"

EV Espiritu should have another solo show after his "Soul Catcher" photo exhibit from several years back. He's got one wild mind. Here he poses with the mobile that he had conceived and helped execute.

My collaborations with grandchild Kai who, when she entered the gallery, recognized her figures and announced, "That's my work!" From top: "BFFs in Flower Field" and "Oval and Round"

Good afternoon. Let me thank Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary, its genial and caring staff led by Olive Gregorio, curator Erlyn Ruth Alcantara for allowing us to turn this gallery space into our playground for a month.

Thank you, old comrade in arts and media EV Espiritu, my collaborating artist alongside Maryknoll’s Clem Delim, who is a quiet joy to work with. Yasmin Almonte, the Sarabia sisters Anna Leah and Wawie I thank for gifts of space so I can paint with no other concern except to breathe and paint.

Thank you Baboo Mondoñedo, Merci Javier Dulawan and Ben Tapang for choosing either the most barbed or kindest words for me. All of you who came today despite gray clouds, threatening rain and a bout of sampayan blues, thank you.

What else will we play next? This is the question my four-year-old friend and grandchild Kai asks when we’re done with an activity. It’s a question adults like us must also reinstate in our lives to put the element of play in things we do.

When I was painting “Storm Surge” in the aftermath of super-typhoon Yolanda, I couldn’t paint continuously and with joyous abandon. There was toxic anger in my heart at the way a national crisis/calamity was being handled. I put away my brushes, rolled up the canvas and as for the tiny tubes of acrylic, they dried up.

Until one day I found myself stuck up while writing another hanapbuhay article. Restless, I had to channel my fretfulness into something constructive lest I harm myself from frustration. That’s how I found myself returning to “Storm Surge” after it lay idle for a year. I recaptured the elusive lightheartedness that used to accompany a brushstroke.

Each visit to Baguio had me bearing witness to the ease with which Kai applied herself in her painting, coloring and drawing. Absolutely no self-consciousness about what others would think or say. I like to think I am now apprentice to this master.

Enjoy the show, and thanks again for coming and banishing the blues from my sampayan. May your own clotheslines be often visited by playful birds and butterflies, the scent of flowers, blasts of wind, rays of sunshine and just the occasional rain. Bless you!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

'Collectibles' from Joy B

"I love writers who paint. To me, their works are collectibles."

Coming from Tony Perez, creative writer, playwright, poet, lyricist, painter, author of Tatlong Paglalakbay trilogy (Bombita, Biyaheng Timog and Sa North Diversion Road), Oktubre, Noong Tayo'y Nagmamahalan Pa, Noong Akala Mo'y Mahal Kita, among other titles, that's as good as a validation as any. He posted the comment after I shared a family photo showing Rolly, Kimi, Ida and myself in a rare moment together at the opening of my first solo show of paintings at Gallery Nine back in 2006 or "07.

By that time I was in the thick of Fine Arts studies and was taking art tutorials under Norman Chow at the same time. And painting was indeed a reason to live.

Recently, PR girl-art collector Joy Buensalido emailed me photos of works of mine in her collection. The thing with old works when you view them after a span of time and space is they never cease to amaze. I end up half chuckling while I tell and congratulate myself, "Did you really do that? You're not so bad, my friend!"

"Apples in Space," acrylic on canvas

"Landscape," acrylic on canvas From the collection of Joy Buensalido

Lolarga’s ‘Sampayan Blues’ hangs to dry in Baguio gallery

Lolarga’s ‘Sampayan Blues’ hangs to dry in Baguio gallery

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Towards more whimsy and innocence

Following is my artist's statement accompanying my ninth solo exhibition "Sampayan Blues." I let some weeks go by after the Oct. 14 opening, including the aftermath of Typhoon Lando so I don't appear insensitive to the loss of lives and property of others. But I did make a commitment to the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary (MES) in whose The Sanctuary Gallery the show is on display that I would do my "bestest" to promote and market the show.

Proceeds from the sale of all-new, 2015 works all go to the sanctuary in its environmental conservation mission and in the upkeep of its new chapel. "Sampayan Blues" is on show until Nov. 24 so those coming up to Baguio for the semestral and Halloween break can add it to their cultural tripping. Enjoy some of the paintings on exhibit.

In the middle of it all is an installation not unlike a child's crib mobile with a wash basin at the bottom. There is a portrait of the artist cut out from a chip board and the products of her imagination are floating over her head. Gotta see it to believe it. For the installation, I am greatly indebted to visual artists EV Espiritu and Clem Delim for helping out in the conceptualization and execution. Thanks, guys!

The MES is located at 25 North Santo Tomas Road, Campo Sioco, Baguio City.

“A Geisha Dreams”
40.5 x 50 cms.
Mixed media on canvas paper

“Be Light, Be Salt, Be Seamstress, Be Doll”
40.5 x 50 cms.
Acrylic on canvas paper

“Kids on Cat Mountain”
40.5 x 50 cms.
Acrylic on paper canvas

“My Dress for the Intergalactic Ball Hangs There”
50 x 40.5 cms
Acrylic on paper canvas

“Poured My Heart Out and This is What I Get”
40.5 x 50 cms.
Mixed media on paper canvas

“Light as a Kite My Angel Feels”
61 x 45.5 cms.
Acrylic on canvas paper

“Storm Surge”
45.5 x 58 cms.
Mixed media on canvas

“The Laughing Matryoshkas”
61 x 45.5 cms.
Acrylic on canvas paper

“Paisley Shower in the Year of the Sheep”
61 x 45.5 cms.
Mixed media on canvas paper

“Picasso Moment”
23 x 30.2 cm
Mixed media on paper

With collaborating artist EV Espiritu

When the Lolarga-Fernandez family moved up to Baguio in June 1992 for a fresh start, the major adjustment the fulltime homemaker had to make was ensuring there were enough dry clothes for all. Hardly had the freshly wrung laundry been pinned for drying on the clothesline and exposure to the morning sun when the skies would turn treacherously gray and the monsoon cometh.

A friend’s practical advice was: “Have a lot of hangers ready.”
“Sampayan Blues” is partly inspired by the past memory of a housewife hauling in the laundry and hanging them inside the house when the rains pour, then hauling them outdoors again when the downpour stops. It was a cat and mouse game that went on until an automatic washing machine helped solve the drying problem.

Baguio’s monsoon brings days and nights of wind and rain, sometimes without let-up. Wet laundry takes longer to dry and becomes smelly, walls and shoes become moldy, moods are subject to the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Painting had become a way of managing SAD, art allowing the soul to roam freely even in confined quarters.

Every mother is a working mother, no doubt. Even if a painter works from home, there are duties to be addressed: dry laundry to fold and distribute to respective family members’ cabinets, a meal to prepare, a young child to be minded, to keep company with while the television is on.

Or the child is invited to join in the mixing of colors and the forming of shapes. Inevitably, that outer world of floors strewn with toys and unfinished activities (both child and adult coloring books and pencils) impinge on one’s consciousness. Images of whimsy and innocence find themselves on the canvases that look like pages from a child’s Book of Days.

Behind each painting are the painter’s scribbled, journal-like notes on the making of each work. These “doodles” and “notes” also serve the function of authentication papers for each work. The canvas sheets after all were torn from a pad of canvas paper.

The furniture and furnishings inside the gallery space are meant to recreate the home ambience or the context where paintings came from. The mood aimed for is a rainy day in Baguio, the soft light perfect for contemplation or contemplation in action (painting).