Arts & Leisure

By Jasmine Agnes T. Cruz, Reporter

A bookstore dedicated to Philippine art

Posted on March 18, 2015

WHEN YOU GO to the big bookstores in the country, you will find books on art, but they are often about foreign artists. It’s not as if publications on Philippine art do not exist; it’s just that those bookstores usually don’t carry them or just have a few on stock. To amend that situation, a new bookstore called opened in November last year, and it only carries publications on Filipino artists and exhibits shown in the country.

ARTBOOKS.PH is not just a bookstore specializing in art, it also serves as a library.
There are books on art, art books (works of art that are in book form), magazines, monographs, exhibition catalogs, reference books, and journals. The books are not just about visual art -- there is material on architecture, design, film, photography, new media, performance theater, dance, music, traditional arts, arts and crafts, travel, lifestyle, history, theory, and criticism. The books can be new, previously owned, or out of print.

Founded by Pioneer Studios, a company of artists who want to document and promote Philippine art and culture, allows more people to have access to information about Philippine art, said Ringo Bunoan, one of the founders along with Katya Guerrero. Both are artists, and the two were behind Big Sky Mind, an artist space that was once in Quezon City. Now the two are building a new venture, and Ms. Bunoan said that it is equally challenging.

“It’s an adventure to source books,” said Ms. Bunoan. “It takes a lot of legwork.” Since the sources of publications are so dispersed -- some are in the hands of artists, independent publishers, small presses, galleries, museums -- they had to go to all of these sources in order to gather the materials that they needed. They hope to save art lovers from the arduous task of book hunting by turning into a one-stop shop where all these materials can be centralized. If there are publications on Philippine artists published abroad, the people behind the bookstore also plan to import them.

Aside from being a bookstore, the space is also used as a library. This is why whenever they get copies of a new book, they keep one for themselves and offer that as a browsing copy for visitors. In this way, they hope that the bookstore will not just be a store where people purchase items, but will also become a space that attracts a community, a group of people who like to hang out and discuss their love of art, said Ms. Bunoan. Thus they are continuing the vision that they had for Big Sky Mind, but now the concentration is on books.

The creation of this bookstore is also timely as the Philippine art scene is booming. Ms. Bunoan hopes that the bookstore will help create an “informed market,” so that people won’t just keep on buying art, but they will actually know the context and the history of the artworks that they love.

The bookstore is located at 123 Pioneer St., Mandaluyong City. It is open Mondays to Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For details, call 632-7683, e-mail, or visit Visitors can also buy books through the Web site which offers local and international courier delivery that can ship an order within two to three working days.