THE visual art community in Davao City seems to have gained some momentum of sorts -- apparently sharing the belief of many, that the city is now enjoying windows of opportunities having a share of the seat of power.
Thus, 2017 had a long list of visual art events worth looking back on.
The coterie of art groups have been working as different collectives and individual endeavors, thus there was the regular Art in the Park at People's Park by the United Durian Artist at the People's Park that was started off with the "About Art Exhibit" in March 2017.
Morning Light Art Gallery and Shop stirred greater interest in art especially among the young by holding several art workshops with professional artists, it also sustained a workshop where clients can spend hours painting or drawing, and thus created a collective of sorts from dabblers to serious painters.
Meanwhile, exposing the Dabawenyos once more to Chinese painting was the Chan Lim Family of Artists and Students who once again put up the two-week Mid-Autum Art Festival at SM Lanang, which showcased more than 300 artworks on Chinese fans, rice paper, and ceramic by 40 artists of the Chan Lim Gallery in Metro Manila and one Davao member (this writer).
The Davao Watercolor Society, meanwhile, gathers regularly at Basti's Brew at Victoria Plaza where they hold exhibits and show their latest works with each other.
Among the busiest of visual artists is Elenita "Boots" Dumlao who has set up three solo exhibits in the month of October alone.
Albert Galvez, a returning Dabawenyo, put up his new art gallery at the Bondi and Burke compound along Legaspi Street and joined the Star Wars craze with an exhibit that drew in the crowd of enthusiasts last December.
Phoenix Petroleum for the first time gathered 12 Davao artists for a group exhibit entitled "Beginnings and Beyond" at SM Lanang Premier in December. Convened by Phoenix President President Dennis A. Uy, and Debbie A. Uy-Rodolfo, Assistant Vice President for Customer Service and Corporate Communications, the exhibit showed 24 4 feet by 4 feet works of Victor Secuya and Mandy Echevarria, who curated the show, with Venerando "Rey" Bollozos, Jose Adolfo "Boboy" Buenaventura, Mriano "Anoy" Catague, Rogelito "Jun" Cayas, Louella "Daday" Joaquin, Alynnah Mcla, Gilbert Miraflor, Welehito "Lito" Pepito, Teody "Bong" Perez, and Mishael "Misha" Pueblas.
The year's highlight, however, was when Davao-honed Rey Mudjahid "Kublai" P. Millan became the featured artist in the ManilArt 2017 at SM Aura, taking center stage is what is considered as The Art Exhibit of Manila, where serious art collectors visit and pick out their chosen pieces for the year.
While stirring up greater unity and camaraderie was the LuzVisMin Panag-abut Art Residency, which brought Bacolod's most sought-after artists led by Charlie Co, and Manila's Manny Garibay with Othoniel Neri of Garibay’s Durian Collective, Demetrio dela Cruz, and Julio Jose Austria. The Bacolod artists who came with Co were Roderick “RA” Tijing of Bacolod, Karina Broce Gonzaga, a regular exhibitor at Gallery Orange aside from having exhibited her works in the national capital as well, Alan Denoso Ong, Emilio “Junjun” Montelibano Jr., Frelan Laurel Gonzaga, and master clay sculptor Joe Geraldo.
The art residency intended to bring over these artists experienced in selling and exhibiting their works and gaining a strong following in the national capital and interact with local artists and students. It was a four-day gathering in September that sought to further consolidate the gains of the art community in Davao City in the hope of setting up a regular art residency and convention that will not only showcase the Mindanao artists but also bring in other experts who can teach the locals a little bit about making art as a life-sustaining career and inspiration and, most of all, collectors who are willing to invest on the works of homegrown artists.
As 2018 starts, art activities are already lined up as the groups and individuals gain inspiration and momentum from what has been fanned into a raging fire the year before.