Enriching Filipino artists

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FOR printmaker Ambie Abaño, her six months spent in the United States on printmaking fellowships was “enriching.”

“I lived alone in a studio in New York. If I wanted to work, then I’d take the train to my art studio in Brooklyn. I designed my own program… All the artists would have to open their studios [to the pubic] at a designated period and put up a solo exhibition. So, I prepared for that, and I had to go to the [art] studio almost every day,” she told BusinessWorld of her three-month International Studio and Curatorial program (part of her printmaking training). Then for another three months, Ms. Abaño trained at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop for lithography (printmaking done on limestone).

All of this was possible because she was an Asian Cultural Council (ACC) Fellowship program grantee in 2012. The fellowship program offers residency programs for visual artists where an organization provides for the grantees’ studio space and programs where they meet and collaborate with other artists.

“What they want to support you for is the broadening of your exposure and experience so that you’ll learn from it, expanding your network, engaging with artists of [a] different culture, and being exposed to the art that’s being presented by New York and other parts of America,” Ms. Abaño said of her experience as an ACC fellow. “If I had not gone, I would not have this way of looking at life or looking from a point of view of a Filipino who has gained a wider sense of self [in being Filipino].”

In support of the ACC Philippines Fellowship program and its scholars, its annual benefit auction at the Leon Gallery in Makati City will be held on March 3, 2 p.m.

Up for auction are Jose Joya’s Space Transfiguration, Anita Magsaysay Ho’s 1960 painting Tahip, several paintings by National Artist Fernando Amorsolo, antique furniture from the collection of Ramon Villegas, and a 32-inch ivory crucifix from the 17th century.

In addition to all that, three letters by Andres Bonifacio to Emilio Jacinto at the time of the Tejeros convention and documents signed by Bonifacio acquired from the estate of Epifanio de los Santos also join the lineup of materials at the auction.

A week-long preview of the auction pieces will begin on Feb. 24 at the Leon Gallery. Some pieces will also be displayed at the ACC-Leon Gallery booth (No. 14) at the upcoming Art Fair Philippines at The Link carpark in Makati City from March 1 to 4.

The Asian Cultural Council (ACC) is a nonprofit organization that awards fellowships and grants to individuals and organizations to foster an Asia-US exchange in the arts. Since 1963, it has provided support to over 400 art scholars in 17 art fields from 26 countries.

The Asian Cultural Council Philippines Foundation, Inc. (ACCPFI) has held fund-raising campaigns to support the ACC Philippines Fellowship program since its institution in 2000. It aims to uphold “ACC’s vision of promoting cultural exchange and international dialogue, understanding, and respect while advancing the development in Filipino artists.”

“The ACC lives strictly to give help and grants to local Filipino artists who want to broaden their horizons by engaging in further studies in the United States,” ACCPF Chairman Ernest Escaler said during a press launch on Feb. 7 at the Milkyway Café in Makati City.

Filipinas Heritage Library associate manager (curator) Faye Cura is one of this year’s ACC Fellowship program grantees. “I’ll be an intern for three months at the Library of Congress in Washington DC at their exhibitions department. For the other half of my grant, I’ll be observing history museums and library exhibitions in New York,” Ms. Cura told BusinessWorld of her upcoming fellowship program.

“Curation of library collections in the Philippines is not as established compared in America wherein they have exhibits that showcase their library collection. I want to study how that can be done in the Philippines,” Ms. Cura said in a mixture of English and Filipino, citing that only a few libraries in the country mount collection exhibitions.

“Firstly, we only have a few libraries in the Philippines. Secondly, very few libraries exhibit their collections… Content is very few, and [I think] we would still be able to enrich that.”

Ms. Cura is set to leave for the US in April for her six-month ACC Fellowship program on museum studies.

Leon Gallery is located at G/F Eurovilla 1, Rufino Corner Legaspi Sts., Legaspi Village, Makati City. For more information, visit www.leon-gallery.com/asianculturalcouncil.org/artfairphilippines.com. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman