a Sunday at the Pinto Art Gallery

Last Sunday, my best friend Cez and I went to the Pinto Art Gallery in Antipolo. She said it was a great place to just get away from the city, see some great art, and find a place to sit down and just write.

I was quite amazed at the size of the place. Up a mountain, in the city of Antipolo, nestled in a little village, Pinto Art Gallery is a huge place with three cafes/restaurants, six galleries filled with art, and a chapel. The sun was shining bright but Antipolo is still filled with trees so there was a constant breeze crashing in. The place has a Mediterranean feel in its architecture and the collection of artwork is pretty impressive. It requires a lot of walking, and there are a lot of stairs, but it was worth it if you like seeing art.

Maybe, even if you don’t like art, you’ll find something there that will catch your eye. It’s a very impressive collection.

Panalo! (Winner) by Ferdie Montemayor, a massive triptych, Acrylic on canvass

Panalo! (Winner) by Ferdie Montemayor, a massive triptych, Acrylic on canvass

Cez looking at the paintings of Garibay in Gallery 1 at the Pinto Art Gallery

Cez looking at the paintings of Garibay in Gallery 1 at the Pinto Art Gallery

We spent the first few hours just going through each gallery and talking about art. I’ll even be honest enough to admit that we took a lot of photos as well because the place is just so photogenic and the light is gorgeous that it lends itself well to selfies, profile photos, and artsy shots. In fact, the Pinto Art Gallery is open to people who come for professional photo shoots.

The place is just lovely. Away from the city, it’s quiet and you can hear birds chirping in the background and there is a sense of calm and peace. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday, so the place was full of people, mostly teens, just looking at the art and taking photos.

After we walked around, Cez and I had lunch, took more photos of ourselves, before retreating to a quiet little nook with only a sculpture and two paintings, the best place to park ourselves because people who came in saw the three pieces and left again. If we chose a spot with more art work, the people might have lingered longer.

We both took out our laptops and began working. Cez had something she wanted to start on and I wanted to catch up on my writing. Unfortunately, my eccentricities kicked in and I found that the occasional passers-by ruined my focus and concentration. I really need to be in a place where I am alone and I don’t get self-conscious. I couldn’t get started on any of my scripts or essays or fiction, so I just opened up a blank document and started drafting a poem.

Marvelling at "Love" by Raffy T. Napay, thread and fabric on canvass -- yes, that's not paint, it's thread!

Marvelling at “Love” by Raffy T. Napay, thread and fabric on canvass — yes, that’s not paint, it’s thread!

The artwork blended into the piece I was working on. It took me a long time to complete the draft. Usually, I write like a lightning bolt, but with the people coming in looking at the room we were at, I would get conscious and my mind would wander. Once in a while, Cez and I would enter into a conversation. The place was just right for writing, the conditions, though, were not.

But I wasn’t complaining. It was a lovely day and when I did manage to write something down, it was something I was happy with and knew that I could work on some more and I knew I had something I could play with and improve in my own time.

And, yes, the work involved art as a metaphor and I weaved this fictional narrative into the piece and it became this poem about art, and love, and loss. It is tentatively titled Art is Useless and it took the form of a Spoken Word piece, obviously inspired from my Saturday evening at the Words Anonymous anniversary show. I am hoping to refine it and improve it before the May open mic at Sev’s Cafe so that I could debut it and give it a test run so I know how it sounds out loud.

It also wasn’t a total loss because I sat down and wrote lists of things I wanted to write, a sort of informal plan for my future writing; a sort of bucket list of what I want for myself. And surrounded by all that art, of different kinds, I was inspired to not just stick to what I know, but to evolve, to branch and try other things, and to not be afraid to play.

Also, I learned that while the collection was impressive, not everything was to my liking. There were a lot of work in the galleries from very popular names in the art scene that I did not think was that good. That taught me three things: (1) all art is subjective, there will always be people who will not like my work; (2) my work can be considered good and it could still be crap, people only say good because it is in line with how it makes them feel, which means that I have to be my own judge and critic and it’s my opinion that matters most about my work; and (3) I must always strive to be good, to not let what others say, especially those who don’t know as much about writing as I do, force me into complacency or laziness.

Very interesting lessons, really, because I knew them already but it was having been there, at that moment, that I had really thought about it in concrete terms.

This is another example of a random moment, just a day that Cez said “Let’s go to Pinto Art Gallery and hang out and write or something,” and it came at the most opportune time to help me set the course of the rest of my life. It was like everything falling into place, another sign post on this universal highway telling me that I’m on the right path and that I’m getting closer and closer to where I’m headed.

Right before sunset, we went back to the cafe, and had an early dinner and some sangria and watched the sunset as it settled down on Manila Bay, which we could see from the cafe at the top. We stopped talking about art and writing and our plans, and we talked about ourselves and our lives and what we thought about this thing and that and it was the best way to unwind and to process what just transpired.

We went home and I felt something electric in the air, like it was an important day, even if nothing really happened. Things were said out loud that cemented things and some things were validated and confirmed. It doesn’t always have to be a momentous event. It can be something quiet and internal, like staring at a painting a little longer than normal, because something in you stirs.

Sometimes, the essential is just a stirring. Sometimes, that is all it takes to create ripples that eventually grow into waves.

An after art selfie with Cez at the top most cafe in Pinto Art Gallery, with the best view of the sunset

An after art selfie with Cez at the top most cafe in Pinto Art Gallery, with the best view of the sunset

A sunset over the city, to cap off a lovely, lovely day

A sunset over the city, to cap off a lovely, lovely day

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