FORTY-ONE years ago, in 1975, the Art Association of Bacolod was organized.
Jess Ayco, one of Negros Occidental’s and the country’s pioneer in modern-art, decided to hold a painting competition at La Consolacion College with the theme “Holy Week in the Philippines.” It was a gathering of Bacolod's finest artists to showcase their talents on canvas. There were 55 artists and 105 of their artworks were exhibited and Bacolod became renowned as a robust art scene.
With the art scene pulsating, Edgardo “Budot” Lizares saw the opportunity of organizing an association of artists. Meeting with the province’s finest artists, Jess Ayco, Rafael Paderna, Rodney Martinez and Benildez Familiaran, Budot Lizares and the group endeavored to hold a series of workshops for local artists. With friends in the art circle like Dean Jose Joya of the UP Fine Arts College and sculptress Virginia Agbayani, the efforts of the association were enhanced.
It was on July 4, 1975 that the Art Association of Bacolod was formally organized. The first set of officers then were: Edgardo Lizares as president; Elsa Valenzuela, secretary; Susan Soberano, assistant secretary; and Rafael Paderna, Amador Capiral, Ramiro Esteban, Benildez Familiaran, and Rodney Martinez as directors. Jose Joya was an honorary member who came regularly to Bacolod.
Five years after, the AAB Articles of Incorporation was approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Joining the original formators were Larry Tronco, Anita Feria, Juan Hagad, Ely Santiago, James Bilbao, and Jess Ayco.
The AAB over the years held numerous shows not only in Bacolod but in Manila as well. Many local artists have achieved prominence in prestigious art competitions in the country and in other parts of Asia.
The AAB has been an original partner of the MassKara Festival. The history of the Masskara and the AAB are very much intertwined.
When the Don Juan tragedy hit all of us in 1980 plus the sugar crisis, to cheer the city out of its gloom and doom, over at Tita’s Restaurant, proximal to the old gallery of the Art Association of Bacolod at the Seawall fronting the public plaza, Ely Santiago, introduced painted masks made of paper mache.
AAB artists Maowi Palacios, Lor Sumagaysay, Orville Visitacion, George Macainan, Marcial Buelba, Rodney Martinez, Rafael Paderna, Jecky Alano, Fred Juson, Belding Familiaran, Fred Escaran, Roy Aguilar, Joemar Sanchez, and Nunelucio Alvarado gave lessons in mask-making to the different barangays for them to create as a seasonal source of income which also became entries in the Masskara Festival. This led to the birth of the MassKara Festival. Beyond the merry making, the festival also brings artists together and we have seen how the masks among Bacolod’s barangays have evolved and have transformed from good to world acclaim!
Forty-one years hence, the Art Association of Bacolod has regrouped and reorganized. While some of the original creators of the association have already passed on, their mission and vision is immortalized by the surviving artists and the budding new ones.
At the helm is Rodney Martinez who is now the president of the AAB, and vice president is Joe Dureza. Miriam Bayles and Sonny Golez were chosen secretary; Dolly Gatuslao, treasurer; Leah Samson, assistant treasurer; Rafael Paderna, auditor.
For its 41st year, the Art Association of Bacolod has an ongoing exhibit at the Negros Museum. Congratulations and more power to the AAB!