Come one and all to an exhibition called “Manila Welcomes Distinguished Guests”, a double billed show by artists, Mitch Garcia and Ian Madrigal.

I met these guys when I was working on Manila Transitio Memorial Art Festival last February. If you were there, you’d probably remember them as the performance artists who did the “Dilawan Nazareno” (Ian) and “Our Lady of Merchandise” (Mitch). Although we never really hung out together, it seemed like we had a common past when our paths crossed for Transitio. We were all into performance art, we all were all actually MALATE and OLD MANILA based, we were Penguin Cafe regulars, and we had a common thread in Santiago Bose.

I was Santi’s intern back in the 90s while Ian’s art career was saved when Santi stumbled upon his paintings at Kulay Diwa Gallery and told Bobbi Valenzuela that he was nuts for rejecting Ian’s work. Soon after Transitio, we found ourselves doing a short “residency” at Santi’s own house in Baguio where we all pitched in to repair Santi’s water tank and fix things up as best we could as an homage to the man.

It was there that I realized that Mitch was not only an extremely talented artist (performance and visual) but she was also an excellent coordinator with a Protestant work ethic. Ian also possesses a vast knowledge of the Manila art scene that blew me away. He remembers practically every artist who ever existed, still exists, and well, trying desperately to exist until today. He is a walking Wiki of Pinoy art. So in the end, somehow, one way or another, I ended up producing this show of theirs in Kaida. I wouldn’t say I ‘curated’ nor ‘funded’ the show but I did enjoy getting back into the credo of “The Living Room”, and supporting art production and art processes over anything else.

Because that’s what I think art should be about. Production and process over end product. The artist is a worker. Striving for the professionalism of an art production system makes the entire market sustainable. Artists aren’t shamans. Art isn’t an intrinsic truth given as a miracle by gods. Artists should be given rights that make it easier to produce their work before it gets to the market in the same way other products do. As an artist community, we must realize that we are all cultural workers and we should support each other whether it be giving pancit, providing a pillow under a head, sharing art supplies, or covering costs for acrylic emulsion paint (matte OR glossy).

Either way, it was an amazing few months working on “curating” this show. Hope to see you all at @Kaida Gallery in QC on July 30, 2017.

I’ll be the guy in the bowler hat. #vivamanila #CoolQC

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