A passion for art, a passion for others

CRAZY QUILT By Tanya T. Lara Updated November 16, 2008 12:00 AM , Philippine Star

It’s said that in the process of teaching a child, the adult learns more about himself and acquires a new outlook on life, seen with the eyes of a child. Throw art into the mix and you get to introduce values to both the child and the adult that they do not normally learn in the classroom.

This, is in essence, is what Heart2Art is all about. It is a painting session that pairs a child artist with a mentor from the UP Artists Circle as part of Bonifacio Global City’s “Passion for Christmas” series of events. Taking place on Nov. 22 at Bonifacio High Street, it hopes to show that in a world ruled by pragmatism, art is a crucial part of life and of nation building. We all know that when art affects the individual observer, it also affects his community in profound ways — and it ripples to influence an even greater whole.

Bonifacio Art Foundation Inc. (BAFI), a non-stock, non-profit organization that oversees the public art in BGC and the group that’s helming the soon-to-break-ground Mind Museum, invited eight students from the art club of the International School in BGC to participate in the event. The resulting paintings will be exhibited and put on a silent auction dubbed “Street Gallery” on Nov. 29 and 30 in BHS, with the proceeds going to a charitable organization.

Marilou F. Velez, BAFI executive director, explains that this year’s Passion for Christmas revolves around the theme “Passion for Others,” which kicked off yesterday with a Street Ballet performance by 50 of BAFI’s scholars under the guidance of Ed Malagkit and his Studio Dancers Inc. The holiday favorite The Nutcracker was also performed by Ballet Philippines’ BP Kidz.

The involvement of schoolchildren in both the ballet and painting events are in line with BAFI’s mission to discover young talents, to encourage them by giving them venues for their artistic expression — and to concretize what BGC has promised to be from the very beginning: A city with a soul and a city of passionate minds.

In the case of the young ballet dancers, BAFI started the program in 2002 by going to the public schools of Taguig to recruit children ages 8 to 16 with the help of the Department of Welfare and Social Development (DSWD). Mostly coming from poor families, Marilou says, it’s amazing to see how classical ballet has “transformed the children — from their posture to their confidence to their new outlook on life. In fact, one of our scholars is going to the Philippine High School for the Arts.”

For Heart2Art, Marilou turned to Doi Rosete of the UP College of Fine Arts. The two met when Doi went onboard as part of the team working on the Mind Museum, whose design alone is an astounding collaborative effort between 55 scientists and designers. Apart from teaching multi-media courses and industrial design at UP, Doi is an adviser to the UP Artists Circle, a university-wide fraternity and sorority of artists founded in 1972.

Alumni members of the UP Artists Circle include sculptor Paul Quiaño, a faculty member of the College of Fine Arts, Jeff Dizon, Neil Doloricon, Rock Drilon, Benjie Cabangis and Bim Bacaltos. The Circle currently has 25 resident members — students from the College of Fine Arts and the College of Arts and Letters. Since the group is in all the UP campuses around the country, members routinely give free summer workshops to children interested in the arts — from depressed areas in Navotas to as far as Kalinga Apayao.

Doi looks at the mentoring idea of Heart2Art as having a huge impact on the development of both the IS and UP students. “The child will have the confidence to work on his art by having this experience outside of workshops. He will get to see his work exhibited to the public, and the sale of his artwork will be a very big encouragement in pursuing a career in the arts. From the point of view of the adult artist, it would help develop his career by being involved in community affairs and professional art, and being exposed to corporate activities like this. This is the real world and artists have to learn to move in the different realms of this world. We want to develop students who are relevant to our society and will function well in and outside their academic lives. I think this is a reflection of the times — to collaborate and not to isolate one from the other.”

Collaboration and inclusion are two principles that BGC was founded on. From its conceptualization to its realization, the city was and is the result of a group of developers, architects, artists, designers and future stakeholders.

The eight children will do the initial strokes on paper using watercolor crayons and their mentors will help transfer the works onto 18×24 canvases, which will later be up for silent bidding. This activity will be held at BHS’ covered walkway near Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and can be watched by everybody on Nov. 22, from 4 to 7 p.m.

Eight corporations have also been invited to sponsor 2×6-foot canvases, which can be painted on by their employees and the companies get to keep their own canvases. Marilou says this is yet another venue for companies to practice good corporate citizenship as the money goes to charity.

“The art component has evolved during the planning stages,” she says. “So now we have two avenues for people to contribute to charity.”

Face painting and henna tattoos will also be done by the UP Artists Circle members.

On Nov. 30 at 8 p.m., art finds yet another expression at BGC. This time, the University of the Philippines Madringal Singers (UPMS or Madz) will be performing crowd-pleasing Christmas songs. The event “Street Carolers” will be held at Bonifacio High Street, a venue that mixes commerce and art — static, kinetic and interactive — so seamlessly.

Madz, a resident company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, is the country’s most awarded singing group. Organized in 1963 by Prof. Andrea Veneracion, Madz is composed of students, faculty members and alumni of the different colleges in UP.

If you’ve seen the Madz perform, you’ll notice that they always sing in a semi-circle — without a conductor. Their repertoire ranges from renaissance madrigals to pop music, from choral masterpieces to novelty numbers. In fact, that’s where the Madz derived its name — from the 16th to 17th-century “madrigal” or a song for several voices arranged in elaborate counterpoint and without musical accompaniment.

Led by choirmaster Mark Anthony Carpio since 2001, they are the country’s most awarded choir, having won the European Grand Prize (in 1997 and 2007) — the only choir to achieve this feat.

Hailed as Philippine ambassadors of culture and goodwill, the UP Madrigals has won some of the world’s most distinguished choral competitions held in Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary and Germany.

And, yes, they have performed for royalty and heads of state, including for Pope Paul 6th, US Presidents Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon, and King Juan Carlos de Bourbon. On Nov. 30, they will be performing for the public at Bonifacio High Street.

These art and music events at BGC serve a bigger purpose than to just entertain the crowds (although that in itself is a great purpose!). As   Doi Rosete puts it, “The idea itself of opening art into public spaces is not new, but in the Philippines it is something still new to us. When we talk about art, we usually talk about galleries or if it’s outside we think of graffiti. Here and now, you see that art is not an isolated instance. You can appreciate art as you walk between your house and office. This is one instance where you have a very conscious group that is introducing art into a modern community.”

Here at BGC, it’s art that you see, touch, hear — and above all, art that you feel.

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