Being surrounded by the arts have a healing effect in people, Dr. Joven Cuanang likes to say. The art patron lends more credence to that statement through this November’s big fundraising exhibition, Chapter 2: The Empty Chair Project, a project of the foundation that he chairs: the Visual Arts Helping Hands Foundation, Inc (VAHHFI). Being staged in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum where the show will be held, the project does not only list the museum as beneficiary but also select mental health advocacy groups, namely Anxiety and Depression Support Philippines, Buhay Movement, Silakbo and #MentalHealthPh. Finally, the event also seeks to support VAHHFI’s healthcare initiative for practicing visual artists and artist support practitioners like curators, art critics, art professors, and established gallery workers and other support professions.
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Chapter 2: The Empty Chair Project serves as the VAHHFI’s inaugural launch and coming out event, following its initial 2017 exhibition by its founding members to raise funds primarily for visual artists’ welfare and hospitalization assistance, which resulted in the eventual creation of the foundation.
“Creating and registering the foundation took two years,” shared sculptor and founding member Daniel Dela Cruz, who spearheaded the initiative of putting together both the initial exhibition and the foundation, “it is the artists in service of other artists and those in the community.”
Chapter 2: The Empty Chair Project expands VAHHFI’s reach in generating awareness not only among the visual arts community but among the general public. More than providing collectors a chance to purchase unique artworks is the opportunity to help not just the artists but the professionals who support the artists in the visual art ecosystem.
Using “The Empty Chair” as a visual metaphor, the exhibit tackles the current and timely subject of Mental Health, and the idea that art heals.
VAHHFI challenged some of the best in Philippine visual arts scene to interpret, translate, and realize what an empty chair means and to conceptualize a chair series that embody the message of “hope, kindness, and positivity to all.” Working on designer chairs and stools sourced from BoConcept and Casa Bella, the artists not only get to help “support” those suffering from anxiety, depression, and similar psychological issues but also to engender and encourage mental fitness as a part of one’s own overall well-being.
This biennial gathering of creative minds and generous individuals aim to produce one-of-a-kind masterpieces aimed to pool enough money for VAHH’s medical endowment funds. This embodies VAHHFI’s raison d’etre and philosophy: To give back to the visual arts community by providing funds to institutional partners and medical assistance to members of the visual arts community.
The artists who have created chairs for the show include Leo Abaya, Fruitjuice Factory Studio with Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan, Annie Cabigting, Valeria Cavestany, Charlie Co, Louie Cordero, Jayson Cortez, Marina Cruz, Kawayan de Guia, Antipas “Biboy” Delotavo, Dexter Fernandez, Dino Gabito, Nona Garcia, Guerrero “RG” Habulan, Gregory Halili, Riel Hilario, Nilo Ilarde, Pete Jimenez, Erwin Leaño, Raul Lebajo, Luis Lorenzana, Gene Paul Martin, Jason Montinola, Leeroy New, Rando Onia, Jim Orencio, Bernie Pacquing, Lynyrd Paras, Richard Quebral, Marc Aran Reyes, Jose Tence “Bogie” Ruiz, Stanley Ruiz, Luis Santos, Ciron Señeres, Rodel Tapaya, and MM Yu.
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Marc Aran Reyes, L 60 X W 55 X H 101cm, 2019.
Nona Garcia, L 48.5 X 40 X H 158.5cm, 2019.
Richard Quebral’s Tugawi Boy Master, enamel, assembled shaped wood, L 52, X W 57 XX H 76cm, 2019.
Christina Quisumbing Ramilo, L 39 X W 39 X H 76cm, 2019.
Arturo Sanchez, L 39 X W 66 X H 137 cm, 2019.
Emmanuel Garibay, L 39 X W 39 X H 76cm, 2019.
Daniela dela Cruz’s To Live by Faith, metal with ceramic, wood, laquer paint & electrical lighting, L 75 X W 47 X H 146cm, 2019.
Ferdinand Montemayor, L 39 X W 39 X H 97cm, 2019.
Juan Alcazaren, L 39 X W 39 X H 76cm, 2019.
Kim Hamilton Sulit, L 50 X H 46 X H 76cm, 2019.
Mariano Ching, L 39 X W 39 XX H 76cm, 2019.
Max Balatbat, L 68 X W 11 X H 116cm, 2019.
Raffy Napay, L 39 X W 39 X H 127cm, 2019.
Reginald Yuson, L 39 X W 60 X H 203 cm, 2019.
Renz Baluyot, L 39 X W 39 X H 86cm, 2019.
Soler Santos, L 39 X W 41 X H 76cm, 2019.
Romeo Lee, L 39 X W 39 X H 76cm, 2019.
Yasmin Sison, L 50 X W 46 X H 76cm, 2019.
Veronica Pee, L 39 X W 39 X H 76cm, 2019.
Zean Cabangis, L 39 X W 39 X H 76cm, 2019.
Guerrero “RG” Habulan, L 38 X W 38 X H 90cm, 2019.
Dr. Joven Cuanang, with Dr Steve Lim on the Medical Team, has enabled the organization to evaluate the health needs of applicants from the visual arts community—not just members—and recommend medical interventions to benefit everyone in the field including art critics, art writers, and art professors.
The past fundraising efforts have provided assistance since April 2018 to artists, and even other art workers, like art writers, a museum director and a gallery owner, in ailments that have included thyroid cancer, recurrence of tumor and kidney disease.
Chapter 2: The Empty Chair Project will run from November 12, 2019, Tuesday, to January 31, 2020, Friday—with an opening reception on November 12—at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex along Roxas Boulevard, Manila. The project is supported by Meralco, PLDT, AXA, Casa Bella and Bo Concept. For more information, visit metmuseum.ph, call +632 708 7828, or email us at [email protected].
Check out, too, VAHHFI’s website www.visualartshelpinghands.org for updates, news, and application information