MANILA-- Art in the Park organizer Trickie Lopa's favorite day of the year is neither Christmas nor her birthday but the annual exhibit of artists who get the chance to showcase their works.
“It’s something I really look forward to,” Lopa told ABS-CBN News. “I’ve been involved with ‘Art in the Park’ since the beginning.
“We did it as a project for the Salcedo Market which we were part of since we are citizens of Barangay Bel-Air. I just love it. It’s casual. I’ve discovered so many artists in ‘Art in the Park.’
“You’ll never know what you’ll find or what you’ll see. It's a treasure hunt. At the same time, it’s just a fun day out.”
The line up of participants for Art in the Park 2023 is already filled up, with a waiting list. The exhibit-sale will run for one whole day on March 19, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Jaime Velasquez Park in Barangay Bel-Air, Salcedo Village in Makati City.
“We’re hampered by the size of the park,” Lopa explained. “The guests and organizers are not allowed to step on the grass area of the park.
“Years before, towards the latter part of the exhibit, we were using both the parking area and the grassy part. Square meters-wise, it’s the same for us. But there’s going to be an adjustment for everybody now.”
Aside from the 60 exhibit booths selling all sorts of art items, there will also be 20 food concessionaires, although fast food outlets will be out on the list finalized by Rhona Macasaet.
“We wanted to concentrate on small food outlets who don’t really get exposure,” Macasaet said. “We want to give them a chance also. The food vendors are just as intense as the artists.”
Last February, founders and organizers of Art in the Park that include Lisa Periquet, worked with Dindin Araneta for Art Fair Philippines, the first live exhibit following this pandemic
“It was very successful and we held it for four days at The Link, between Shangri-La and Landmark,” Periquet said. “There were about 25,000 who came over four days. The participants included mostly galleries.”
At Art in the Park, there are galleries, too, as well as collectives – people who do art making. “They can be Bacolod art collective and fine arts schools with student artists,” Periquet said.
There will be 60 galleries in Art in the Park, although not all artists show up for the day.
“There are tons of art work,” said Periquet. “In each booth, maybe you will have a minimum of 50 artworks. The artists really prepare for this because it’s a good selling event once a year.”
Periquet called Art in the Park an “affordable” art fair because the artworks have an upper limit for their costs.
“This year, we raised it to P70,000,” Periquet said. “When we started in 2006, it was P20,000, then we raised it to P30,000. It became P50,000 and now, P70,000. That’s the highest that an artist can get.
“There were art works in the lower range. There are items as low as P1,000.”
Not all items are paintings, though. “There are art toys,” Periquet said. “Then, the Association of the Printmakers of the Philippines is also participating.
“We have mosaic artists called The Mighty Bhutens from Baguio. Then we have prints and very nice selection of pottery from Laguna and other places from the north.”
Periquet was inspired to start Art in the Park with Lopa 17 years ago. “Our idea is always to widen the audience for art in general and make art accessible, enjoyable to everybody – up, down and in the middle.
“When we started in 2006, Art in the Park went from strength to strength. This year, we have about 60 exhibitors. That’s the max to make it nice and comfortable.
“Before, we would hold Art in the Park on Saturdays, simultaneous with the market. After several years, we decided to hold our own event on a Sunday so we’ll have more time and it’s not too crowded.”
The point of Art in the Park is to show the public a whole range of things, student work, work by more seasoned artists and famous artists.
“It’s like breaking down the walls of galleries so art is accessible and not intimidating,” Periquet pointed out. “You can chat with whoever is inside the tent, the owner or the artists.”
Art in the Park gave its organizers the confidence to do the Art Fair, which has been running for a decade now. “I believe we have built an audience for art viewing and interest in art,” Periquet said.
The Art Fair follows the patterns of international art fairs in the world the last 15 years. “Art has been sold more in art fairs than in galleries,” Periquet informed. “So New York has an art fair, same in Europe and Asia.
“Now, they are following that trend. Where we are in the art calendar, we’re between events in Hong Kong and Singapore.”
Art in the Park started back in 2006 but in the past three years, they did it online.
“Living in Barangay Bel-Air, I was able to convince MACEA [Makati Commercial Estates Association] to turn the garden into a park, half of it and then half was an empty car park,” Periquet shared.
“On our 15th year last 2021, we did Art in the Park online twice. One in February and the other in September. Last year, we did it hybrid. We just had a few exhibits, but the selling was mainly online.”
Dividing the work happens very inorganically for the organizers of the art fair. “Over the years, there are a lot of certain things that I do like the cashiering part,” Lopa shared. “The not fun, non-art stuff, I kind of do that, plus the admin stuff.
“Lisa does the lay-out, discussion with Barangay Bel-Air. Choosing the artists, we both do that. It depends who knows who. It’s not very cut and dried. Generally, I tend to do the admin stuff.”
This year, the return of Art in the Park onsite will undoubtedly be much-awaited.
“We tried to do it online for three years,” Lopa shared. “There’s nothing like the atmosphere of being in the park, it’s casual, it’s one day. You’ll enjoy it.”
“This year, we’ll even have spoken word poetry,” Periquet added. “Artists can do it in their booths.
“During the day, we’ll have ambient music. There will be a trio and they will play guitar, violin and soft percussion.
Art in the Park will also have a quartet from Casa San Miguel in Pundaquit, Zambales, where the noted Bolipata Brothers hail from.
“The music has to be acoustic so we don’t disturb the neighborhood with very loud music, no percussion,” Periquet said.