Ortigas Art Fest: more art in public spaces

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PUBLIC SPACES are fast becoming art galleries. Some even become canvases. These transformations make art more approachable and reachable for everyone while marking its role in community development. Art heals. Art makes you think, and it open conversations among people.

After the success of the five-day Philippine Art Fair at The Link earlier in March, another art festival in a mall follows in its footsteps. At the bridgeway of the Estancia Mall in Capitol Commons in Ortigas is an ongoing public art festival, which, while smaller in scale and not commercial, features great artworks just the same.

The Ortigas Art Festival — with more than 100 works by 60 artists on display — is on view until March 26.

Jaime E. Ysmael, CEO and president of Ortigas & Company, Limited Partnership, said that the festival will become a permanent feature at the mall since “art is for everyone.” He added that it “is a way of fostering a deeper regard for the art and cultural scene, while offering new experiences” for mallgoers.

Aside from the art on display, the festival has been holding free water color, mural making, and painting workshops conducted by Renato Habulan, Peter Sutcliffe, and Kalye Kolektib, on all Sundays of March.

The festival is done in partnership with Eskinita Art Gallery in Makati Cinema Square, an alternative platform for artists founded by Alfredo Esquillo with Mr. Habulan as the resident curator. Together, they foster the young millennial artists under their wings who make up a group called Tuklas.

“We teach them ideas, ethics, and life guidance on how to live as an artist creatively. They don’t need to compromise their art to live comfortably,” Mr. Habulan told BusinessWorld at the sidelines of the event’s launch.

“The challenge for them is how to survive as an artist,” he said, noting that he also experienced the same setbacks when he was young and starting out. While his parents supported his decision to study Fine Arts at the University of the East, he said his in-laws doubted if he could feed a family. A respected and multi-awarded painter, Mr. Habulan said: “The best support [anyone can give] is to allow your kids to be an artist.” Do not hinder their creative minds, he added.

The works of the group he mentors are on view at the mall. Noticeably, all of artworks are emotional, expressive, dark, and seemingly sad and anxious.

““Their works bank on emotion, and not the social,” said Mr. Habulan in Filipino of the collective works of Tuklas. “They are not analytical of the social context, instead, everything springs from their heart, just emotions. They have no clear vision yet.”

A social realist himself, he explains that the young artists’ works are products of their time. “Sometimes … it’s a sign of the times. So you can’t say if it is good or not. [Its the] responsibility of an older artist is to guide them guide them to process their emotion,” he said in a mix of English and the vernacular.

Aside from Tuklas, on view are works from Kalye Kolektib, Biskeg, Layaw, and Eskinita Kontemporaryo. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman