LAST week, the visual art community launched its first ever art residency program that exposed visual arts students and professionals to big names in the art scene from Manila and Bacolod as the art community tries to find its footing on the interest that Mindanao is getting.
Initiated by the group of Mindanao artist Rey Mudjahid Ponce Millan, it eventually involved the major art groups -- Tabula Rasa, United Durian Artists, the University of Mindanao Fine Arts Program, and including Abe Garcia of the Ateneo de Davao University and Emi Englis of the Philippine Women's College of Davao. Albeit not all were able to fully participate, the interest to come together was already manifested.
It is that interest that should be fanned to life, and be allowed to live on despite and amid any personal differences there may be among individual artists.
For so many years, and even several lifetimes, efforts to unite the art community has failed as individual differences always stepped in the way. Thus, even as there is a huge pool of art-inclined individuals in Davao and Mindanao, an art movement that truly brought Mindanao art into the mainstream never took off. In the end, very few artists made a real, comfortable living from their art while the masters are developed from the national capital.
Mindanao is now in the centerstage. This is a window that everyone has been praying for. The art community cannot default on this. As Bacolod artist Charlie Co and Kidapawan-born but Manila-based artist Manny Garibay said, there is so much in Mindanao to sustain an art community. But this can only happen when everyone helps to push each other up to reach the level of the masters, or at least the level that can sustain a life, an advocacy, and a family.
The age of the hungry artist is too babyboomer, a generation on its twilight years. In this age of worldwide audience, Mindanao artists should claim their space and flourish.
The art residency somehow sparked this interest, now the dream is to be able to organize a visual arts convention and the target is on 2019. Here's to cheer on the Mindanao artists that they may achieve this vision, soon.