Trickie Colayco-Lopa keeps art within reach

Trickie Colayco-Lopa

Art, unlike fashion, is less accessible, yet for one influential woman who has made art and fashion major parts of her life, it is within reach.

Trickie Colayco-Lopa co-founded Art Fair Philippines in 2013 with like-minded Lisa Ongpin-Periquet. Even then, they both felt the urge to help bring art closer to Filipinos — not just to collectors or connoisseurs, but to every Juan.

Lisa Ongpin-Periquet and Trickie Lopa, co-founders of Art in the Park.

They established Art Fair Philippines in 2013 and, 11 years later, Lopa is not that surprised that there are Filipinos who love art as much as she does. “I knew that there must be other people out there who loved art the way I did.”

Lopa, in an interview on DAILY TRIBUNE’S Pairfect, which airs on Fridays at 2 p.m., said, “Art in the Park is my favorite day of the year. I always say that because it is!,” Lopa said, adding that the event is like “a treasure hunt.”

How the highly anticipated event came about is a story of great minds thinking alike. “Lisa Periquet and I helped conceptualize the Salcedo Saturday Market, which is now an institution, right? At that time, that was both our neighborhood, our community (we both don’t live there anymore). With a group of civic-minded, like-minded friends from Bel-Air, through the leadership then of the barangay captain Nene Lichauco, we started the Salcedo Saturday Market.

“Then, in 2006, the market was celebrating its second anniversary, and we needed to do something to mark that anniversary. At that time, I had just been elected to the Board of Trustees of the Museum Foundation of the Philippines. And Lisa was handling the lecture series of the Foundation. We needed to raise funds to keep the Foundation going. Basically, it fell to us, and I remember I said, I’m not gonna send another concert ticket again to the church. We have to do something that we both like — so, to make it more interesting, kill two birds with one stone — to celebrate the second anniversary of the Salcedo Saturday Market and raise funds for the Foundation. So, make it an Art Market, to go with the concept of the Saturday Market,” Lopa said.

(FROM left) DAILY TRIBUNE Social Set editor Jojo Silvestre, Art in the Park co-founder Trickie Colayco-Lopa and DAILY TRIBUNE lifestlye and managing editor Dinah Ventura.

“We had 12 galleries, and we had to time it with the Saturday Market — so can you imagine making artists come from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.? Because it was really to celebrate the Saturday Market. And it was a huge success. I mean, sales were good, and galleries were happy. Galleries were only just then starting.

“I was so into art, that I knew there must be some like-minded people, like me. In fact, some of my art friends are those I met in the first Art in the Park. And here we are, we are on our 18th year.”

The yearly outdoor art event will be held on Sunday, 17 March, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Jaime Velasquez Park in Makati City. The event is open to the public for free.

Excitement still remains for this second “in person” edition of the fair, which was held online for two years during the pandemic.

Lopa says that since the art fair, held for just a day, has the same weekend market vibe, people can really just go to look at the art, interact with the artists and maybe find something that resonates with them. Tip: you never know what A-list artist will offer an unidentified piece of work (priced at the level of Art in the Park) and by the end of the day be there to sign your piece!

‘Not work for me’

During the last Art Fair held at The Link, Lopa happily shares how they gauge their success. “We maintain our numbers. The galleries have indicated to us they have achieved their sales target for the weekend. Personally, it’s kind of a big relief. All the art fairs we have planned have been mounted successfully, touched a chord among our audiences — and people tell us! They tell us they like the whole experience of going to the art fair.”

From one floor occupied by 24 galleries 11 years ago, this year they had 55 exhibitors – a whole section of Filipino and international galleries from the region and a Spanish one that comes every year. Focus remains in Philippine contemporary art.

And how do they top the previous event every year? “For me, it’s important to keep track of the global art conversation. I don’t want to use the word trends because it’s not a trend — it’s really the pulse of what artists are doing all over the world and I try to expose myself to all of that. And how it connects to the Philippine art scene. The whole point of the Art Fair is to increase the exposure of contemporary art. That’s really what we try to do. The audience is ready to be challenged and we try to bring them something that is not the usual, something they have not seen before, something that we feel will resonate to our local audiences,” Lopa said.

“It goes both ways. Art in the Park is the same way even if it’s such a smaller scale.

“I have to say that Art in the Park is not work for me. When it’s time to organize Art in the Park, I’m just so happy! It means the Art Fair is finished! So that’s one. And then it’s time to plan, for me, my favorite day of the year. Art in the Park marked several personal milestones in that I made a lot of good friends; it really is the one that got me into art and the art scene. I’ve met so many of the artists, and it’s really been just such a joy to plan it.”

Making it ‘unintimidating’

Lopa recalled how she got into art. “I was just always interested in art. There’s always an affinity, for me, with Philippine art. I remember what really, really made me so interested in it. I was in New York, at the Whitney Museum, and there was a show called ‘The American Effect,’ which talked about American effect on its various colonies. I saw this piece, which literally made me stop on my tracks. I looked at it. It was a very photo-realistic portrait of, I think it was, an eagle holding a baby in its claws. I said, whose is that? Alfredo Esquillo was the artist, from the collection of Kim and Felicia Atienza from the Philippines! And I said, how come I don’t know this artist? Shame on me, right? So when I came back I started researching on Philippine art. I attended shows and exhibits. And then Art in the Park really crystallized it for me.

“Art in the Park is a day out. It’s really a day in the park — there are tents, no exhibits are formally mounted. I mean, you like…(makes a motion of flipping through a pile of art)…it’s really supposed to be unintimidating, an entry point.

“There may be some potential collectors who want to see art, and acquire art, but maybe feel a little nervous about going to a gallery setting. At the same time, it’s really a great time for artists to just go out there. We have the whole gamut from big names to young ones. We have students from the universities. We’ve managed also to shine the spotlight on ceramics. We always have some photography, too, printmakers, now we also have some digital art, too.

From that first Art in the Park where she discovered Rodel Tapaya, Lopa stays in love with art so much that she wants to share the joy it brings.

“Back then, I saw a piece, a work of his. And I fell in love with it. And the gallery, which had just shown him, said, oh, these ones were unsold. I bought it, and I contacted him. At the time, it was so easy. I think it came with a little brochure about him. So I called him and asked if he could make me a pair of the one I bought, and he did! And now Rodel is on his way to becoming a global sensation.”

Lopa, with her Art Fair co-founder Lisa Periquet, keep Philippine art within reach.