ILOILO -- The fast-rising Iloilo Business Park isn’t only a center for commerce for the Western Visayas city but is also turning out to be a cradle for the province’s culture and arts.
The Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art (ILOMOCA), which was launched just last March, is located inside the stunning Casa De Emperador in the heart of the 72- hectare complex.
The museum is a collaboration between Ilonggo art collector Edwin Valencia and Megaworld Corp. Initially, the real estate giant wanted the museum to be built in Manila. However, Valencia insisted on Iloilo.
“Iloilo is also a good venue because the art community is thriving," museum curator Martin Genodepa said an e-mail interview.
"There are many Ilonggo artists (those who trace their roots to Iloilo or Western Visayas) and Iloilo-based artists who have won national art competitions and have been part of major national and international art exhibitions.”
ILOMOCA is thus a magnificent focal point for the region’s art and culture and is worth a visit when in Iloilo to admire the works in its halls.
Currently being shown are works by Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, Victory Vasarely and Marc Chagall as well as paintings by young American figurative artists Adam Miller, David Molesky, and Luke Hilstead.
Meanwhile, the museum also has works by acclaimed local artsist including Elizalde Navarro, Bencab, Abdulmari Imao, Arturo Luz, Ang Kui Kok, David Cortez Medalla, Delotavo, Lydia Velasco, Brenda Fajardo, Gelvezon Tecqui, Nelfa Querubin, Sanso, Ramon Orlina, Habulan, Norma Belleza, Angelito Antonio Romulo Olazo, and Tence Ruiz.
From the younger artists, ILOMOCA displays works from Geraldine Javier, Rodel Tapaya, Alfredo Esquillo, Ronald Ventura, Mideo Cruz, Raffy Napay, Randalf Dilla, and Marina Cruz.
“The museum complements Iloilo heritage. The old and existing cultural landscape needs new initiatives to re-invigorate it -- that is what ILOMOCA exists for,” Genodepa said.
The museum also hopes to revitalize the local Iloilo art scene with plans for solo exhibitions featuring young and award-winning Ilonggo artists.
Programs are also being developed in parallel with the shows such as artist talks at ILOMOCA and even in schools, as well art-related training and workshops on art conservation and art writing. It will also offer short-term artist residencies in the future.
HARD TO MISS
The museum is hard to miss when walking around the Iloilo Business Park. The Casa De Emperador sits at the plaza with an imposing bronze statue of Iloilo’s first governor, Martin Delgado, by Spanish sculptor Gines Serran Pagan, right in front of it.
The museum occupies three floors of the Casa Emperador. Browsing around the first floor is free of charge but there is a small fee to see visit the upper floors. The fee is well worth it to marvel at the impeccably curated exhibits in the galleries. Personally, I recommend going through the museum from the top floor to the bottom.
The third floor houses the Adoracion V. Valencia Gallery. Named after the patron’s mother, this gallery contains select pieces from Edwin Valencia’s collection, including sculptures and paintings from both local and foreign artists.
It’s interesting to note that a majority of the pieces were in storage and are just now being displayed to the public. This is just a portion of the Valencia collection and the museum will periodically be rotating the pieces.
The second floor houses three galleries. The first one is dedicated to artists from Iloilo, Panay and nearby Negros. There are some pieces that chronicle Ilonggo life as well as Ilonggo history.
The second gallery contains works from foreign artists and this is where visitors will find the most celebrated works in the museum. Look hard enough and you’ll find a Dali, a Miro, and a Chagall among others on the gallery walls.
The last gallery is dedicated to sculptures of all shapes and sizes, some so large, they occupy part of the central space of the floor.
On the ground floor, you’ll find the “Hulot” (“space” in Hiligaynon) exhibition space. This gallery is used for special exhibitions and a commercial space for guest artist to display and sell their works.
Stop by the Museum Shop for souvenirs and special museum memorabilia before heading out.
The museum currently hosts around 500 visitors a week and is expected to welcome more once the school year starts.
The Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday.