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Art in the Park: A celebration of book illustrations, and welcoming an NFT marketplace

THREE weeks after welcoming over 16,000 guests at the hybrid Art Fair Philippines, the fair’s affordable counterpart, Art in the Park, opened on April 24. Ongoing until May 1 at www.artinthepark.ph, the art fair will feature one day of physical activities on April 28 at the Jaime C. Velasquez Park in Makati City.

This year, the Art in the Park features 61 galleries, art schools, independent art spaces, art collectives, and, for the first time, an NFT (non-fungible token) marketplace. The prices for the artwork are capped at P50,000.

“We moved everything back because of the Omicron wave in January,” Art in the Park co-founder and organizer Trickie Lopa told the press in a Zoom interview on April 21.

Ms. Lopa, along with her fellow co-founders Lisa Ongpin-Periquet and Geraldine “Dindin” Araneta — all three are also the founders of Art Fair Philippines — decided to keep most of the fair online to avoid the risk of overcrowding in the park, and instead have one day onsite within the eight-day event.

Two of fair’s featured artists with special exhibits are Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang INK) and Distort Monsters.

In line with their 30th anniversary, Ang INK will present a special exhibit called “INK in the Park,” with a collection of 40 artworks from various illustrators.

Artist, painter, and children’s book illustrator Jomike Tejido said that it is the first time that the group is being highlighted with a special exhibition after 16 years of participating in the art fair.

“The fair has helped us bring out our creative talents outside our usual platform as published illustrations in books and magazines for Filipino children,” Mr. Tejido told BusinessWorld in an e-mail. He noted that Art in the Park has given them the opportunity to be appreciated by art collectors and to showcase their graphic designs.

Ang INK’s special exhibition features 40 illustrators including Juno Abreu, Aldy Aguirre, Fran Alvarez, Jamie Bauza, Benedir Dasig, Jovan De Ocampo, Danielle Florendo, Liza Flores, Tin Javier, Jasmin Lacay, LD Mendoza, Arli Pagaduan, Jonathan Ranola, Mark L. Ruste, Jomike Tejido, and Ige Ochoa Trinidad.

Meanwhile, their regular booth will have 100 artworks by 16 artists. “Our regular booth has an open theme, where we showcase each of our individual styles and interests in subject matter,” Mr. Tejido said. “Visitors might be able to get a timeless piece from their favorite children’s book illustrators.”

Ang INK has 50 to 60 active members every year. “Membership is renewed annually. The roster of active members changes from year to year,” former Ang INK president Liza Flores said in an e-mail.

Over three decades, Ang INK strives “to improve the quality of work of its members, set a standard for the Filipino children’s book industry in the craft as well as business practices, expand its reach and influence in other regions of the Philippines,” Ms. Flores said, and for the Philippines to be known internationally for having diverse, imaginative and world-class illustrations for children.

In Dec. 2021, Ang INK opened its 30th year anniversary exhibit at the Ateneo Art Gallery.

The street artist Distort Monsters (real name: Miguel Antonio) bridges digital art and traditional art with “Monster Mayhem Megamash”.

Art in the Park will present 100 pieces from part two of “Monster Mayhem MegaMash,” that takes the artist’s colorful creatures in two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and digital forms, from murals to beyond NFTs (non-fungible tokens). These one-of-a-kind monsters will be available at www.artinthepark.ph as giclee prints that contain unique QR codes that when activated, will enable buyers of the prints to onboard the images as NFTs which they will also own.

Priced at P9,500, the concept of the online exhibit comes from Blindboxes, where buyers do not know which of the 100 unique prints and NFTs they have purchased until the giclee prints are delivered to them.

“One of the main goals of the Monster Mayhem [project] is to bridge my physical art into the digital world and then back again to the real world,” Mr. Antonio told the press in a Zoom interview on April 21.

Mr. Antonio said that they are offering generative NFTs which are digital art which carry design assets fed into a specific program. “Each asset or trait has a certain rarity percentage, and what the program does is it takes all those traits to assemble an image that’s totally unique,” he explained.

A live installation of 10 three-foot-high resin sculptures will complement the online exhibition of “Monster Mayhem MegaMash”. They will be on view at the Jaime Velasquez Park from April 24 to May 1.

Complementing the online exhibits at Art in the Park are online events which will be held via Facebook Live (www.facebook.com/artintheparkph). These include the video premiere of Studio 1616’s exhibit on April 25, 5:30 p.m.; the video showing of INK STORY: 30 Years of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan on April 26, 5 p.m., followed by a panel discussion on the video with members of Ang INK and the Ateneo Art Gallery, at 5:30 p.m.; the video premiere of Distort Monsters’ Monster Mayhem Megamash on April 27, 5:30 p.m.; and The Platinum Series art activity for kids on April 30, 10 a.m.

Meanwhile, the following are the live events to be held on April 28 (4 to 8 p.m.) at Jaime Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village, Makati:

Distort Monsters will hold a live mural painting session starting at 3 p.m. Mr. Antonio will also discuss his Monster Mayhem MegaMash project, and how this bridges the gap between traditional art and NFTs in a talk scheduled at 5 p.m. on the same day.

Ang INK’s exhibition of new work which will be available for purchase on this day.

Studio 1616’s installation, Reflect Deflect live.

A two-hour DJ set by After the Noon Records from 6 to 8 p.m. Food and drinks will also be available at the park.

Art in the Park is organized by Philippine Art Events, Inc., for the benefit of the Museum Foundation of The Philippines and with support from Globe Platinum and Bank of The Philippine Islands.

For more information and the full schedule of activities, visit www.artinthepark.ph and follow www.facebook/artinthepark and @artintheparkph on Instagram. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman