IT WAS a long-held dream that took years to take shape and finally be launched. The first Mindanao Art Fair, Exhibit, and Conference (MindanaoArt 2019) came to be after several tries to bring Mindanao artists together and bring to life an industry of well-grounded talents.

“We have a living culture in Mindanao. It is a waste of our identity when Mindanao artists will just rely on search engines to draw inspiration from,” said key organizer Rey Mudjahid “Kublai” Millan, president and executive director of Lawig-Diwa Inc. Lawig-Diwa is the Davao City group that submitted a proposal for the National Commission on Culture and the Arts-National Committee on Art Galleries (NCCA-NCAG) competitive grant for a regional art fair last year, which led to the holding of MindanaoArt.

To be held on October 4 to 6, 2019 at The Atrium of the Gaisano Mall of Davao, with the October 5 to 6 dates being open to the public for free, the MindanaoArt 2019 brings together five Davao City galleries and art groups and four art groups and galleries from Cagayan de Oro representing Northern Mindanao, Zamboanga City for Western Mindanao, Butuan City for Eastern Mindanao, and Bukidnon for Central Mindanao, virtually covering the major areas of Mindanao and bringing over a who’s who in Mindanao arts.

MindanaoArt is the NCCA-NCAG’s first regional art fair project that it offered as a competitive grant in 2018.

MindanaoArt, being a grant from NCAG, is tasked organize galleries and art groups and not individual artists as NCAG’s mandate is to empower art groups and galleries so that these can support and build up careers of individual artists.

Davao art groups and galleries who are participating are the Bintana Art Gallery, Tabula Rasa, Piguras Davao, and Art Portal Gallery of Contemporary Arts.

Their list of participating artists reads like Davao visual art scene’s who’s who.

“The imagery of their (the artists’) work’s narratives comes from their different background and life experiences as an individual in response to the creative and destructive power of the concept of the elements,” Bintana’s curatorial notes on its exhibit entitled “Twinning of Creation and Destruction” read.

Tabula Rasa will be putting up 12 paintings and three sculptural pieces in impressionism and realism styles expressing their theme, “Leaving and Living”.

Piguras draws attention to Davao River, the “Silent Witness” to the city’s growth and ups and downs.

Art Portal’s “Meander” brings deeper meaning into this, pointing out that a meander “is a nodal point of demarcation that signifies the transition from one state to another, a transformative phase, at once a consolidated site and contact zone for fluid exchanges”.

For the regional participants, Capitol University Museum of Three Cultures from Cagayan de Oro City presents “Recent Crescent”, a performance art and photo exhibition by performance artist Nicolas Aca and photojournalist Froilan Gallardo.

The MindanaoArt Fair has the special participation of Special Program for the Arts (Visual Arts) students of the Davao City National High School, which is also participates as one of the destination exhibits as they open their Datu Bago Gallery right in their campus.

From Butuan City is Likha-Karaga, a visual arts organization, founded in 2000 by artist-friends led by Richard dela Cruz and Gualberto Licong Jr.

Their exhibit will be participated in by John Lester Garcia, Jobert Bermejo Oclarit, Roland Delara, Cris Tamis, Rades Allegre, Zin Ortiz, Ariel Sitoy, Marvic Eric Simudlan, GM Licong, Goy Baldo Candelario, Reste Sala, Anna Marie Perez, Sonny Boy Correces, Alwin Musa, Jojo Pablo, and Jessie B. Tariga, Jr.

While setting up the exhibit entitled “Colors of the Earth” for Bukidnon are the province’s Talaandig soil artists composed of Rodelio “Waway” Linsahay Saway, RJ Sumingsang Saway, Salima Saway Agra-an, Marcelino “Balugto” Necosia, Jr., Johnrey Santizaz, Raul Bendit, Epoy Eslao, Niño Dave “Chong” Tecson, and Gerard Saway. The soil painters from the Talaandig tribe have made a name for themselves as they used their art to reinforce their community’s culture and stand for peace and harmony, especially among the tribes.

Also participating is the Ateneo de Zamboanga University Gallery of the Peninsula and Archipelago.

NCCA executives will be flying over to witness the first regional fair that NCAG has funded. Among them are John Delan Robillos, the head of the National Committee on Art Galleries, Amado Alvarez who heads the National Committee on Museums, and Fr. Harold Rentoria, Commissioner for NCCA’s Cultural Heritage Section.

“We are aspiring to reach out to as many galleries and art spaces and convince them that there is a lush market here just waiting to be tapped for as long as they do their work of discovering talents, promoting artists, and deliver their artists’ works to the attention of the patrons,” Millan said. “The bigger key is in the heart that is embedded in the art. It is all about the heart of an artist that identifies himself with his roots, his people, his land.”


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