Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Experience of Pinto Art Museum

Antipolo, where the Pinto Art Museum is, is a mere 16 kilometres away from my home in
Paranaque.  However, traffic along the route makes it seem like it is in a galaxy far, far away.
But I assure you, whether you are into art or not, the museum is an experience that is well worth
the long (and slow) drive,

More than a museum, more than a gallery -- shall I call it the Pinto Inter-active Experience?
For that is exactly what it provides  -- allowing the visitor to immerse oneself in an ongoing project,
a work-in-progress, an unending dream by one man to provide the best venue to encounter and appreciate art in all its forms.
This is the building that you see when you enter the unprepossessing gate.  It houses
individual galleries where temporary exhibits are held, one of four on-premise coffee shops (that
incidentally serves very good food) and a small but well curated museum shop.

At the time we visited, one of the exhibits featured a long stretch of snake skin on the floor --
not anaconda long but long enough.  As a confirmed ophiophilist (one who loves serpents), I
was fascinated -- was this skin the snake had shed or did he give up his life to be part of art?

From snake skin to discarded vintage machines. Both call to mind temporal states.  A whole room was devoted to (now) oddities like an ancient typewriter (bringing to mind fond memories of the one I used 40 years ago), an old phonograph, video monitor, telephone and even an unexploded
mortar from perhaps WWII.

Another installation asked the visitor to "Remember" and  after having read the words on the floor ... 
I would add "... and be grateful".

Across the way is a small chapel like structure -- most of the buildings in the museum follow what 
to my mind is a Mexican-Mission style architecture with walls of white stucco finish and complete with a small belfry.  

Inside the chapel is a beautiful carving of the crucified Christ, taken down from the cross.  On the side are more examples of religious statues and ecclesiastical art.  

I walked out of the chapel and headed a few steps away to this charming enclosure ...

A bas relief of Jose Rizal and Leonor Rivera is prominently mounted on a concrete wall. 

This is easily one of my favourite pieces from Pinto --this life sized statue of Leonor Rivera.
She is widely acknowledged as the real life model for Maria Clara-- the beautiful, virtuous 
but ultimately tragic heroine of Rizal's Noli Me Tangere

Towards the back of the garden is an open air clearing with some structural pieces.  I think more
pieces are to be added as the space can definitely take in a few more works of art.

There is an open air coffee shop called Cafe Rizal where on a good day you can sit and enjoy a drink or a snack.  It was raining on the day we visited otherwise I would have loved to sit at this corner table and have a tete-a-tete with Rizal.

From Cafe Rizal, steps lead down to the main part of the complex, the Pinto Museum which is composed of several galleries with work from contemporary Filipino artists.

Antipolo is naturally hilly and the architect and landscape artist who designed Pinto certainly made wonderful use of the uneven terrain.  You go up and down steps to make your way around, amidst trees and greenery, small pools and ponds of water.  On sunny days, you can relax on beds and sofas scattered around the property that are usually piled high with cushions and pillows.

The founder and moving spirit behind Pinto, Dr. Joven Cuanang is Ilocano to the core.  Thus there 
is a separate museum store that sells Ilocano abel -- you can buy fabrics, bags, blankets, and other accessories made from this native Ilocano weave.

I am never one to pass up a store, specially one that sells Ilocano abel.  The day we visited, the man minding the store was softly strumming a guitar -- that and the sound of raindrops outside made for a  delightful interlude.

Next door to the Ilocano store is an L-shaped building that houses Dr. Cuanang's impressive collection of indigenous art.  His heartfelt and impassioned letter explains his vision both as a collector and as an arts philanthropist. 

The collection is amazing made up of different types of functional and decorative pieces.  
It makes one proud to walk through the gallery.

I singled out this wood carving of a snarling beast -- is it a wild boar? It looks as if the artist caught him in the last moments before he was caught -- and perhaps killed and later eaten.

Aside from snakes, I am also fond of lizards -- geckos, salamanders, iguanas ... This is another of 
my favourite pieces from Pinto.  A wooden bench in the form of half-lizard, half man.  I certainly wish  I had one for myself!

On one secluded portion of the property is a gazebo, set in between the Museum for Islamic Art 
and a duckweed covered pond.  

We took refuge from the now steady rain under the shade of the gazebo -- comfortably seated on a pair of vintage botaca chairs.  A dog, a resident on the premises chose to share the space and time with us.  This moment was for me a gift of grace.  Food for the senses and the soul.
   Isn't this little tableau reminiscent of a work of art itself?

It was a nice surprise to run into ex-colleague and friend Cris Villanueva who had been looking for us while we were holed up in the gazebo.
 Cris is a multi awarded and well known painter who lives in Antipolo, just a few meters away from the museum.  His wife Jenny is Executive Director of Pinto and she had apparently told him we were lurking around the premises.  
While we could not stay long enough to take advantage of his offer to take us on a guided tour of the Museum itself, we did have a happy though brief reunion over lunch.  I will certainly ask you to take me around again next time, Cris!

I'd like to end this post with another one of my favourite pieces from the Museum.  
This is a portrait of Dr. Joven Cuanang done by the artist Winner Jumalon.   I love how it captures 
a  thoughtful and unguarded moment of this inspiring and generous patron of the arts.  
Dr. Cuanang,  agyamanak.  Dios ti agngina!  


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