Friday, October 30, 2009

Conversations - Behind the Pages of "Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas"

Genaro Gojo Cruz (left) and Anthony Palomo (right) flank "Ama at Anak: Simbang Gabi" - the cover piece for CANVAS' latest children's book.

In rural Barangay Pastol, Mang Tomas drives an aging, red jeepney – the very first in town. Everyone knows his jeep because it is witness to everything – each child’s baptism, each couple’s walk down the aisle, each student’s graduation from school. Neighbors seeking work abroad are seen to the airport by Mang Tomas’ jeepney and, just the same, it is the jeepney that welcomes them back home.

These are scenes from CANVAS’ newest children’s book, Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas, story by Genaro Gojo Cruz and artworks by Anthony Palomo.

For Cruz, the author, the story had been with him for a long time. “My father drove an old, red jeep all his life,” he shares. In fact, Mang Tomas is Cruz’s father and the child is Genaro himself. The Romeo Forbes Children’s Story Writing Competition, held annually by CANVAS, became the perfect opportunity for Cruz to finally put his story down on paper. “When I began writing it, it came easy because it was already finished in my mind.”

For artist Anthony Palomo, however, it did not come as easily at first. “Starting is always the most difficult,” he says. “One painting is a story, you see,” Palomo explains, “and everything in Ang Dyip … was just one painting cut into pieces.” He struggled to match images to Mang Tomas’ story but finally began. “Ama at Anak: Simbang Gabi,” (shown above) was actually the first artwork to be completed. It pictured a father cradling his newborn against a backdrop of the family jeep and a church lit for Simbang Gabi. Perhaps it was just as well because the painting captured the story’s very essence – the love between father and child.

“Through his jeep, Tatay provided for us,” Cruz, the youngest of nine children recalls. “He also showed us how hard-working he was, a trait that my siblings and I inherited. We learned that one must work hard to achieve in life.” In the province, owning a jeep is often a measure of one’s progress or success.

“The old jeep I talk about in the story is gone,” says Cruz, “but all my brothers drive their own jeepneys and provide for their families in this way. I am the only one who doesn’t because I dreamed of finishing my studies and becoming a writer and teacher.”

Though Palomo and Cruz never met until the very night of the book launch and exhibit opening, the images and story are a stunning fit. Together, the author’s words and the artist’s brushstrokes compellingly tell the story of Mang Tomas, his trusty jeep, and a young son’s tribute to his father.

Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas is CANVAS’ ninth children's book and is available at 1/of Gallery in Serendra at The Fort, at the Ayala Museum, and can soon be purchased at various Fully Booked and Powerbooks branches.

The book launch and show were held at ArtistSpace, Ayala Museum on October 15 through October 27, 2009.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Something to Think About...

Over the long run, the market values artists who are original for how they paint, rather than artists who are original for what they paint.

--By William Cole, an art dealer from Spain, in a letter to the editor dated October 16, 2009 reacting to a New York Times opinion piece on conceptual art.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Alamat ng Bawang

Jose Miguel "Jomike" Tejido’s paintings weaved into “Alamat ng Bawang,” a timeless Filipino tale of how garlic came to be, are currently on view at 1/of Gallery, 2/L Shops at Serendra, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Having had four previous exhibitions mostly themed with abstract nature themes, Tejido’s renditions on hand-woven mats now include human figures in its dreamy landscapes that compose the illustrations for a picture book. The story, written by Segundo Matias Jr, has elements in traditional Filipino folklore such as the bahay kubo, forests, datus and townsfolk that aptly intertwine with Tejido’s distinct Filipino style.

The acrylic on treated hand-woven mats, sourced from a mat export company supplier to ensure its quality, has been Jomike’s
signature style since 2000. His works have been exhibited in Paris, Singapore and Japan, where he has been a runner-up in the 16th Noma Concours Picture book illustrations (2007). He is a member and was the former president of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang InK), an organization for children’s book illustrators. He has illustrated over 30 children’s books since 2000, some of which he also authored, including Tagu-Taguan, Dinosaur Pop-up, an innovative book that teaches pop-up mechanisms. Tejido also created the Foldabots Toy Book series, a collection of cardboard robot toys. Jose Miguel Tejido is a practicing architect and lives with his wife, Haraya.

The children’s book “Alamat ng Bawang” is available at 1/of Gallery. Call 901-3152 for details.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Meet the Vogels... and Be Inspired

The Vogels are an example of what art collectors don't have to be - millionaires, "Rockefellers," says Herb, seventy-one. "We don't have any real advice for first-time collectors," says Dorothy. "We buy what we like, what we can afford, and what can fit into our apartment. But we hope that the exhibition will encourage others living on small incomes to buy art, too."

Civil servants by profession without independent financial means, Dorothy and Herbert Vogel have acquired some 4,000 objects, primarily drawings, since their marriage in 1962. Today these works constitute one of the most remarkable collections of contemporary art in America.

Their intention, as they began, was not to build “a collection” but rather to find works that they wanted to live with. Among the earliest acquisitions was a wall piece by Giuseppi Napoli—one of the few Herb made before he married Dorothy. They celebrated their engagement by selecting one of Pablo Picasso’s ceramic vases together, and their initial purchase as a married couple was a sculpture by John Chamberlain. Eventually focusing on drawings, the Vogels nonetheless acquired works in other media reflective of the range of “their” artists’ practices. Martin Johnson, for example, is represented in the collection by drawings, paintings, sculptures, and works on paper that incorporate collage and photography.

Their initial purchase as a married couple was a sculpture by John Chamberlain

The art community’s awareness of the limited funds the Vogels could devote to their acquisitions brought them considerable admiration, as did their enthusiastic response to a range of contemporary practices, which included work others found difficult to appreciate.

Frequently referred to as collectors of minimal and conceptual art, the Vogels have always had a more expansive reach: art rooted in abstract expressionism (Michael Goldberg and Charles Clough), innovative post-minimalist approaches (Richard Francisco and Pat Steir), and diverse figurative directions (Will Barnet and Mark Kostabi).

The Vogels provided moral and modest financial support to relatively unknown artists who would later receive international acclaim. Among them are Robert Barry, Sol LeWitt, Edda Renouf, and Richard Tuttle—all of whom became close friends with the Vogels. By the 1970s, when their collection became widely exhibited and recognized by the international art press, Dorothy and Herbert Vogel likewise were acknowledged for their early, prescient attention to these artists.

HERB & DOROTHY Trailer from Herb & Dorothy on Vimeo.

To learn more, visit

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Night for Mang Tomas

Four years after our first book, we are proud to launch what is probably our most Filipino children's book to date. Written by Palanca winner, Genaro R. Gojo Cruz, it has all the elements and icons - from family to Simbang Gabi to jeepneys - and over time, we've continuously strived to improve, even in increments, each book that we publish. And in a bit of an understatement, it really helps that Anthony Palomo's acrylic on canvas works for this project are spectacular.

For this book, we had the luxury of more time than we've had with our other books - that's one thing we've learned, that we need time to come as close to perfect as we can - from the translation to the editing to the layout to getting the colors just right.

We also introduced a thumbnail page of all the artworks, uncropped, so that readers get a sense of the actual pieces that were produced to bring the story to life. The book then doubles as a portfolio of sorts for the artist, and a unique record of a series of his/her works.

We have Joy Mallari and Dawn Atienza (of Tin-aw Gallery) to thank for this idea, and we'll do it again for our next book, Doll Eyes, by Eline Santos featuring works by Joy, coming in February 2009. (That's going to be our first horror (!) children's book, and it's going to be a great one! We guarantee it!)

But anyway, first things first. Tonight's the night for Genaro and Anthony and Mang Tomas' jeepney. Hope to see you at the Ayala Museum at 630pm. Cocktails will be served!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

We're Not Exactly Sure How We Are Going to Get There...

But we'd like to think we're well on our way!!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Something To Think About

According to a recent article on Newsweek, it's only a matter of time before Asian buyers reinvigorate the contemporary-art market.

Despite the global recession,Asian buyers are proving to have deep pockets in auction categories that are "easier to understand" and associated with a high-end lifestyle: from imperial artworks and porcelain to wines to watches and fine jewelry.

Contemporary-art prices may be set to return to their former glory, pushed this time by Asian (particularly Chinese) buyers.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

An Agenda for the Creative Economy?

Maybe it’s time to think even bigger about the role of art in society - not just to make people feel good and appreciative… and not just to educate and get people talking about important social issues like what we’re trying to do with Looking for Juan

Art can be (assuming it, in fact, is not already) a powerful engine of growth and development.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recently released a report that argues just that point. We’re still going through it, but among others, it notes that:
  • The Philippines is one of the top 10 exporters of visual arts among developing countries.
  • Our creative sector accounts for nearly 5% of gross domestic product.
  • Our creative industries employ more people (11.1% of national employment) than many of the traditional sectors of the economy.
(You can download the report here.)

Maybe it’s time to think about art, or more generally, the creative economy, as a key component for a political agenda - something that we can think about, define, refine, and ask (if not push) the candidates who will be running in 2010 to talk about, commit to, and more fully understand.

It’s something that we’re thinking about these days.

We'll write more, as we continue to reflect about this, soon.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Surviving Ondoy

Starting Oct 5, Monday, the Psychology Department of the Ateneo de Manila University offers its psychosocial support services (individual and group counseling, phone counseling, and online counseling)... for anyone directly or indirectly affected by Ondoy. The services are going to be provided for FREE. Please see contact information below.



• Follow a normal routine as much as possible.
• Be careful not to skip meals.
• Stay active and busy.
• Distractions may help – reach out to other people in your community as a volunteer.
• Accept help from family, friends, co-workers, or clergy.
• Don’t dwell on TV, radio, or newspaper reports on the tragedy.
• Know that your unusual reactions are normal given what happened to you. They should taper off in time.
• Talk about your feelings with people.
• Feel free to see us if you wish for someone to talk to!

Ateneo Psychology Department Psycho-Social Support Services:
Online Counseling via Yahoo Messenger (9 am to 12 midnight)
Phone Counseling 5057251 from 9 am to 5 pm
Individual counseling by appointment
Group counseling – Oct 5 930 – 1130, 230 – 430 pm at the Psych Lab Soc Sci bldg or by appointment

For all inquiries and/or to avail of these services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Psychosocial Support Services Secretariat at the Department of Psychology.
Mobile : (0918) 810-6551; (0915) 944-7419; (0923) 707-2314 Landline: 426-6001, extension 5268

LS Guidance Counseling Services for Students:
Group Counseling (Oct 5-9)
10-1130 am, 1- 230, 3- 430 pm Guidance Office
Individual Counseling by appointment 426-6001 loc 5031

Friday, October 2, 2009

Yet Another Filipino Hero...

... we first told you about Efren Penaflorida in March. He just made it as one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2009!

Help Efren continue his good work by voting again to make him the CNN Hero of the Year!

Two Great Short Lectures on Design and Creativity

Tim Brown is the CEO of innovation and design firm IDEO, the kind of firm that companies turn to when they want a top-down rethink of a business or product -- from fast food conglomerates to high-tech startups, hospitals to universities. The firm's mission is to fuse design, business and social studies to come up with deeply researched, deeply understood designs and ideas -- they call it "design thinking."