The Philippine Consulate in San Francisco hosts the maiden voyage of the new traveling group of Filipino artists in their exhibit launch where around forty art pieces of the artists adorned the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center in San Francisco.
Some members of the Viajeros Filipino Artist Collective attended the grand opening to interact with and showcase to the Filipino community and foreign guests Philippine culture with their brand of mastery and aesthetics that highlight the excellence of the Filipino artist.
Viajeros founding member Emil Bauto de Leon shared that the current sixteen members come from New York, Los Angeles, Texas, California and the Philippines and only ten made it to San Francisco and the number of artworks is at least forty which are for cultural purposes.
“Sale of the art pieces depends on the individual artists. After this grand launch in San Francisco, we have scheduled exhibits in Dusit and Solaire in the Philippines and also intend to have one in Texas, New York and in Canada,” added de Leon. “We had our challenges in Viajeros that included getting together very talented artists (that is why it took us three years to form the group), looking for venue and the promotion of the inaugural exhibit, among others. The support given by the Consulate is something invaluable that we really appreciate. They welcomed us with open arms.”
Consul-General Henry Bensurto Jr. confirmed that he did not find it difficult to collaborate with them when the idea of exhibit was first broached to him because the group’s objectives are very much aligned with what the spark, connect and empowerment mission that the Consulate is pushing for.
“I think art is a very good platform to reach out not just to impact Filipinos but also to foreigners even. We are able to showcase the best of us. We just have to look at the paintings and we would know what is meant to be a Filipino in terms of the artist, the medium and the technique. We really are world class and it is about time that those talents have to be brought out into the open,” Bensurto claims joining the cacophony of voices exhorting the entire community to come and visit the consulate open from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to be able to see what Filipino world class is all about as expressed in painting. “done in very extraordinary intricate way.”
Surprise guest for the launch was Assistant Secretary for Social Media of Presidential Communications Operations Office Esther Margaux ‘Mocha’ Uson who came from New York City where she was invited by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano to a command conference of Philippine heads of posts in the U.S.
“I came here to support the Viajeros. As a Filipino, I feel proud being surrounded by exceptional paintings here in this exhibit. As what the spokesperson said, we need to expose our artists and their works here in San Francisco and other parts of the United States and world as well. As they say, this would just be the start of their entry to the international scene,” Uson disclosed.
2017 International Arts in Berlin competition for sculpture winner and Viajeros spokesperson Maria Pureza Escaño called their first exhibit as a “milestone of our group because this is where we begin, an exhibit where we offer a variety of actual case of Filipino excellence in different styles and persuasions.”
“We have artists coming from different walks of life so you can regard Viajeros as a melting pot of Filipino art composed of Filipino travelling artists. Most of us have the goal of traveling and showing to the world through Filipino our Filipino soul and culture to bring about the raising of Filipino pride and morale,” Escaño explained. “It is sad that many of Filipinos still think that whatever we have are second-rate. Most Filipinos still have that Indio mentality (thinking and acting as a second-class citizen). Most Filipinos do not know that that time and again we managed to bring home the first prize, the first place, the grand prize not only in arts but in other fields as well.”
Escaño brought for the exhibit her masterpiece Two in Lemuria painting featuring depiction of two colorful peacocks that she finished just recently and took her three weeks to work on.
“With this art piece, I would like to inspire peace and tranquility because birds, especially the peacocks, would not go to a place where there is chaos,” described Esccaño of her painting which was already sold for at least $10,000 even before the exhibit opened
The Viajeros are composed of Jun Aquino, Xander Calxeta, Ronald Cortez, Emil Bauto de Leon, Orlando Distor, Danny Doce, Jane Arrieta Ebarle, Maria Pureza Escaño, Apolinario Folloso, Jun Impas, Ina Jardiolin, Oying Madrilejos, Jesse Mariñas, Raul M. Roco Jr. (who has the most artwork in the exhibit and son of former Senator and Education Secretary Raul Roco), Coco Tore and Ernesto M. Verroya.
Aquino, who brought his Heart of a Champion piece depicting legendary Filipino world boxing champion and now Senator Manny Pacquiao, divulged that the same art piece would be auctioned off in Malaysia after an exhibit there in mid-July proceeds of which would go to the Pacquiao Foundation.
“My original plan was to bring my Manila By Night artworks but I finally decided to bring this Pacquiao painting here to the America because it was here that he elevated the Filipinos with his boxing victories. Senator Pacquiao already saw this and he always kidded me, “Amazing,” Aquino chuckled.
Pro-environment Jardiolin has her family roots in Marikina, the shoe capital of the Philippines, and has her canvas made from leather footwear scraps stitched together for paintings.
“I usually react to things in my life. The past years my paintings were about gender identity and gender roles. I really like to paint through which she manifests her feelings. You can also tell that I am better expressing with visuals than speaking especially when I get nervous talking,” Jardiolin admits.”Utilizing the shoe scraps is my way of reducing the amount of garbage thrown and wasted aside of it being my way of turning garbage into art.”