MANILA -- If the annual Art Fair Philippines is for the major leaguers and high-rollers, the Art in The Park is for the starting collector.
With every piece selling at no more than P50,000, scoring big at this yearly art bonanza at the Jaime Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village becomes a challenge that requires smarts and good taste, instead of just money.
With none of the suited patrons in attendance, and with only trees and sky as roof, the atmosphere is more relaxed and therefore more conducive to leisurely looking around, and meeting artists and gallerists, veritably immersing yourself in their world.
Speaking to avid Art in the Park-goers over the years, we drew up a guide to help you navigate this Sunday’s artstravaganza.
1. Come early. Gates open at 10 a.m., and by that time, as evidenced by the previous years, there is already a considerable queue. The collector and society columnist Pepper Teehankee remembers those days when he can actually enter the fair grounds earlier, but the organizers have been stricter in the past years.
2. Bring a mini-entourage. Your spouse to take your pictures for Instagram and help carry your loot, or a friend to line up for you in the payment center. This will give you more time for art-scouting. Your partner or friends will also be helpful when you find yourself at a quandary when deciding on a piece that caught your eye.
3. Check your favorite gallery’s offerings on social media. Some social-media-savvy art spaces do post images of the artworks they will have on showcase a day before the fair. Consider this your prep for #4.
4. Start with your favorite galleries. Time is of the essence, and remember that everyone else is on the prowl for a major get. Even your friends—so keep them close for the selfies and socials but when you’re still hunting, they should be at a safe distance, at least from that artwork you’re eyeing. Teehankee enumerates the spaces that he likes: Tin-Aw, Finale Art File, J Studio, Blanc, Art Verite, and Studio 1616. This last one an artist-run group that features young names like John Marin, Joanna Helmuth and Yeo Kaa, who have already earned a modest following in the collector circles. It might be easier to get your hands on their works at Art in the Park than in their solo shows.
5. Don’t be dismissive of the student and school-run booths. This year, the FEATI University School of Fine Arts, Far Eastern University, the International School of Manila, and the Philippine High School for the Arts will all have booths. These are treasure troves that may spring the next big things in art. They don’t usually show in major art spaces anyway, and some students sell their work for as low as P5,000. Who knows, you may end up with a work of a future Dex Fernandez or Maria Taniguchi. Also there is nothing cooler than being able to say, in a few years’ time, that you have a piece from this or that auction star when no one was still paying attention to their work.
6. Have fun. Art in the Park is a party, too, and a lot of people do treat it as a social event. It’s a great opportunity to meet the artists while they’re having their afternoon snack or happy hour drink. This will give you a glimpse of the mind behind the artwork you just bought—which might lead to an invitation to visit the artist’s studio. Mingle with the gallerists; any insider information on what’s out there in the art world (who’s hot, who’s not, who’s price is rising at the auctions) will be helpful in your pursuit in being the next Paulino Que.
But really, enjoy the afternoon and stay for the evening. This year, Margarita Fores is serving her take on street food, Don Papa will have a booth, and Kalimba artist and singer Bea Lorenzo will be providing the entertainment.
Don’t worry: should you end up regretting your art purchase, it will hardly hurt your bank account.
Art in the Park opens this Sunday, April 15, at the Jaime Velasquez Park, Salcedo Village, Makati City. Gate opens at 10 a.m.