A park abloom with art

Pottery from the Sierra Madre Gallery

I watched it all from my floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Since early morning Thursday, identical white tents systematically sprang in strategic spots all over Jaime Velasquez Park, familiarly known as Salcedo Village Park, in Makati City.

When Sunday came, the for-a-day-only stalls and booths were all promptly mounted up, all with objets d’art from the best of the best galleries, collectives, circles, groups and individual practitioners from all over the country. The mellow tunes from the Soulful Mood Strings emanated from their guitars. No announcements blared on the speakers and no one dared to sing karaoke.

I then decided to finally partake in the activities. As I crossed the street, with less than 50 steps from the portal, I was welcomed to the annual Art in the Park, organized, founded and made possible by Lisa Ongpin-Periquet and Trickie Colayco-Lopa as an entryway into the world of art.

They all came in hordes. There were solo flighters, while others were in pairs and groups. The general public came rushing in, all on the prowl for good buys. This was despite desperate calls received, for somehow the green oasis amidst tall buildings became difficult to arrive at due to several road closures. Detours were in order. Oh yes, they somehow braved the traffic and were ready to beat the heat. Some were more prepared than others, clothed in white and in comfy shorts, armed—can you believe that?— with fans made of local abaca. We even spotted a family of four with handheld battery-powered fans in colors which matched their outfits.

From a leisurely paseo, I observed everyone just wanted to have laid back, stress-free moments at the park. Even the uniformed marshals were all smiles, ever ready to assist.

I let my whims take over and visited surprises after surprises at the tiny pavilions of Sierra Madre Gallery by master potter Joey De Castro, the graphic prowess of Urban Sketchers Manila, the whimsical trinkets of Art Toys PH, the photorealistic yet imaginative paintings of Demi Padua, and even the united efforts of the University of the Philippines Artist Circle.

I have stopped acquiring artworks for years. As they say, there are three stages in life—wanting stuff, accumulating stuff, and getting rid of stuff. I have reached the last phase! And yet, it was such a treat to see young ones carefully consider what could perhaps be their very first purchase, or the beginning of a brand-new collection.

We overheard unguarded conversations such as from a couple who dressed alike, who couldn’t figure out which of two works to buy. In the end, they decided to get both! There was a silver-haired lady, while resisting temptation, who adamantly stated “Nothing can move me to buy another piece.” There were two gentlemen in a hurry, one leading the other along the pathway, with genuine fear their chosen artwork may already be gone. Finally, a heartwarming scene of two dads pushing strollers, each of them with an obra, ready to be fixed in their respective dining rooms for the next dinner date in each other’s homes.

An eye-catching end was the special exhibit dubbed as Someday We’ll Be Encased In Amber by Capiz-born abstractionist Pepe Delfin. Through her geometric mural, visitors could pick up a round sticker of their chosen color. I chose green for my alma mater, De La Salle University, and my current engagement with College of Saint Benilde, and stick it on the wall painting as a means to reclaim empty spaces, to establish links, and to create a reminder of the city’s vibrant life.

I noticed the Friends of the Museum who passionately pursued their mission. Meanwhile, the short street of Toledo and a portion of Tordesillas were transformed into strips of interesting food stalls. These were complete with complete seating tables and chairs, and even cocktail standees!

Lest we forget to mention, it was fulfilling to notice the long lines of happy future artwork owners in front of busy common cashiers. The spirit of art is well and alive. The future is in good hands.