Disclaimer: This blog post has nothing to do with the popular show. This is just a simple play of words.
Amidst the trials of everyday life (and the duties of a long-suffering student), our group of three decided to take on an activity that we normally do not have time for. We visited the Pinto Art Gallery which is located in Antipolo City. We chose this particular activity because it was all very new to us and to be completely honest, we are not huge fans of art. One thing we have in common is the boredom we experience when we are in museums. Our group then dedicated a day to roam the area, appreciate works by local artists and generally immerse ourselves in our local culture.
There is a connotation that museums are stuffy, closed and air-conditioned but the Pinto Art Gallery is very unique primarily due to its setting. It is both and indoor and outdoor museum and even provides a beautiful view. In three words, we can say that the gallery is serene, passionate and inspirational. It would later confirm what our key informant would say about the idea of the place was to blend with nature and to showcase the mix of old and the new. We were really reminded of nature to the point that Kally mentioned that it even smelled like nature. It really felt more like a garden. The location itself was a museum. There were not much people during the time when we visited but the staff was very welcoming and informative especially our key informant named Allan Orientia who is also an artist himself.
The entrance is a small door and the only thing visible is one small gallery beside the registration booth. The doors (hence the name, Pinto Art Gallery) were symbolic of entering into a different realm/different perspective as every gallery spread across the hectare had a unique door which were all antique. Walking down the stairs, you may catch a glimpse of three more galleries bigger than the first one. According to the Allan, the museum first started out as a small gallery which would explain why the first floor only has one main gallery. The three other galleries were the extension from expanding. These four galleries are grouped by artists and each have their own theme. The first gallery showed modern paintings. In our opinion, it seemed as if these men and women all were portraying superman in their own way. The second gallery showed religious paintings which were satirical. On the other hand, the third gallery showed more diversity by displaying different kinds of paintings. There were some painting that we in 3-dimensional, others were fish eyes and some were even in x-rays. By far, the fourth gallery was the most contemporary and out of the box. It was more youthful as compared to the previous three. Each and every painting and sculpture had it’s own story.
The paintings used different kinds of mediums such as watercolor, pastel, paint and oil. There were even unique mediums like x-rays, steel wires and terracotta. The key informant told the story not only behind of the paintings but also of the artists of the paintings. He told the story of why and what went on during the process since the informant knew most of the artists personally. Our interpretation and understanding of the paintings wasn’t exactly the same as the artist at some points. We believe that the interpretation lies on the perspective of the viewer. We all saw different things in just one painting and you can even come up with a hundred different ways of interpretations. The beauty in it is we all have our own insights. In the painting Maynika, at first we thought it was absurd and scary for a child to be holding a decapitated leg. Our original interpretation was that a child literally hurt someone and cut off the person’s leg. This symbolized to us that children have the ability to be their own boss. They too can make their own decisions which is why the child was portrayed as someone very big. She could be bigger than any obstacle. On the other hand, our key informant explained that it was actually a child (with Down Syndrome) showing off her doll. A doll in Filipino is “Manika” but she says “Maynika” because she was actually showing off the knee of the doll’s leg. The key informant told the story not only behind of the paintings but also of the artists of the paintings. He told the story of why and what went on during the process since the informant knew most of the artists personally. As mentioned, people have their own interpretations of the artworks. This particular painting meant a lot to Alayne because she was a sister who has Down Syndrome so she understood the story of the artist. On the other hand, there are people who may not come to this conclusion because they do not even know this particular kind of mental retardation. We were actually able to interact with the people surrounding us because they would inquire our opinions on what we thought about the paintings and vice versa. Although there were a few times that our opinions did not match with those of others, hearing the insights of others opens our imagination a little bit more.
The artists themselves were unpretentious and not at all snobby. As mentioned earlier, our key informant is an artist and he spoke in a manner that was warm inviting. He would quote nature any chance he could and he would even pick leaves so we could take them home to witness the wonders of nature. On the other hand, the visitors of the gallery were typical of what we expected. Most of them were well versed in the English language and dressed and exuded the “sosy” vibe. Most of them were mature in age although we also spotted couples. We think it would be safe to assume that the gallery could serve as a romantic venue. One of our initial observations regarding the crowd would be that everywhere we went, everyone had an initial instinct of taking photos instead of appreciating the art. In our heads, we could already read the minds of our fellow teens: INSTAGRAM EVERYTHING! (or tweet/post a picture in Facebook). There were actually many shoots going on, couples were even standing on high ledges just to be able to take a photo. They took longer in capturing photographs rather than exploring the artwork. We observed the crowd for a few more minutes. We actually made a bet between ourselves if the people would put down their gadgets for a few minutes to admire the artworks. After around 30 minutes of casually staring at people, Neener won the bet because hardly anyone put their gadgets down. If they weren’t taking pictures, they would be texting on their phones or taking a call.
It would be safe to say that our presence had almost no effect on others since most of the crowd were focused on their own tasks: taking photographs, wandering about, and asking questions to the artists. Surprisingly, children (including Neener’s brother, Renzo, who came along) were very much interested in the art! Allan engaged Renzo in the art and the gallery itself. For Neener, to see her brother, who mostly cares about matters relating to video games, picking leaves himself and making color dye in his hands was something unbelievable. The activity of squeezing out leaves to make dye was something we tried and for the kids, it was a good way to capture their interest. Renzo even exclaimed that he would like to come back with his friends.
Besides merely observing the actions of others, we were given an opportunity to interact with nature. Similar to Renzo’s experience, we squeezed the plants which had dyes, picked oregano leaves when we got bitten by mosquitoes, and engaged people around us by voicing out our thoughts on the meanings of the paintings. Engaging in these activities gave us an opportunity to understand where the passion for nature came from and why it is such a big part of the gallery. Interacting with nature made us more appreciative of it. Allan kept on emphasizing the power of nature and how artists look to that for inspiration. At first we couldn’t grasp his meaning but towards the end of the day, we gained a new understanding for the passion that enlivens artists that we weren’t aware of before.
We came to the conclusion of how valuable nature is. We are all so busy with our everyday lives that this is something that we fail to appreciate. We have become so enamored with technology that we literally and metaphorically do not have time to stop and smell the flowers. Our group did both observing and participation and although we came to the same conclusion, participating gave us a more in-depth understanding of the importance of nature. When we were merely observing the crowd, we just realized how people are too busy to pay attention to the artworks themselves and how people are always putting significance on social media but through participant observation, we could fully comprehend how out of touch we were with our surroundings because participating is interactive and requires the exchange of opinions.
Blog post by:
Araneta, Kalleen, Maxino, Alayne, Santos, Janina (SA 21: Y)