Category Archives: Museum

A musing and museum afternoon

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Via Crucis (2016) by Antipas Delotavo

The last time I went to the Vargas Museum was in college. I can’t even remember the name of the artist who opened his exhibition that day, so I’m pretty sure my attendance was partly because of the free food and beer.

So when I needed a place to work on my paper weeks ago, I visited the Vargas Museum, where there is also a museum cafe. It is true that a place rarely remains the same as the last time you saw it.

My favorite wall at its second floor is the one where Fernando Amorsolo’s paintings of ruins of Manila are on display. When destruction is painted by an artist well-known for works on the beauty of the countryside, we see a fresh wound while looking only at scars.

At the first floor, the current exhibits are those of Antipas Delotavo (Agos) and Roberto Feleo (Mito ng Aklasang Basi). Both exhibits run until April 8.

Museums have been more lenient about the prohibition against photographing the works on display. That might be a good way to reach out to the selfie-obsessed humans we have become. However, I can imagine the curators now face the challenge of creating a deeper experience than what the smartphones would allow.

For example, that day I visited the Vargas Museum, I saw two girls in the hall where Delotavo’s works are on exhibit. They were taking pictures of each other at the gap between the paintings Ganito Noon and Ganito Ngayon. Their hair and backs touched the canvas. They didn’t seem to spend time looking at the paintings, but the photos will most probably end up on their social media profiles.

There is no one way to appreciate a museum experience, sure. And among the many possible ways, there will be those that will prove to be annoying. I would like to ask curators and artists about this. Food and beer are on me.

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Allegory of Temptation (1933) by Graciano Nepomuceno

I vaguely remember how an ex-love demanded a trip to the National Museum. It was a weekend and I wasn’t feeling well, but my mind wouldn’t let me say “no.” Who would?

While looking at century-old masterpieces, I made believe my own emotions can transcend time and dust. I leaned and whispered that love lasts if you kiss in front of the Spoliarium. Before the walls of studies, I hoped the message was clear: the masters started somewhere, too. If forever exists, I’m sure it’s not ready-made.

After we broke up, I could come up with just one wish. That, damn it, when we proceed with the business of forgetting, may the memory of that rainy Sunday be spared. It should be framed, how we dragged ourselves out of the weekend slump and went to the museum. Art is always such a good excuse for loving.

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Museum Weekend

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 Rizal’s flute

There are articles urging us to date someone who travels. Who writes. Who reads. Whatever. I’ll date anyone a good person who takes me to a museum or an art gallery when I need to feel better.

Last weekend, I was sick and needed something to keep me out of my room, where I’d probably just wallow in the futility of my vitamin supplements. Good thing it was also International Museum Weekend. (International Museum Day, but thanks to international date line differences.)

Free entrance! Chicken soup for my flu-infected soul. This year’s destinations: Lopez Museum at Ortigas and Ayala Museum at Makati.

The exhibit Complicated, featuring works by Mike Adrao, Leslie de Chavez and Ea Torrado, runs until August 2, 2014 at the Lopez Museum.

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Ea Torrado during her art talk

Ea Torrado’s talk was conducted at the Lopez Museum last Saturday. She led us, a roomful of museum visitors who have no (declared) dancing talents, into an appreciation of dance as an art. Her pieces on exhibit include Sisa, a video of her dancing in the dark with flashes of light and where names of desaparecidos are read.

When I think of dances, the creative process in my mind involves making up movements to suit a certain music. Ea spoke of how it is not always that linear. In fact, a lot of times her movements are conceptualized before the music. For some of her performances, the music was composed to go with the movements.

After the talk, I went around the Museum, where guides gave free tour for groups of visitors. I also wanted to go to the Yuchengco Museum at Makati, where Ambeth Ocampo was already wrapping up his talk on Philippine museums. But I had an appointment that afternoon and it was not possible to be at two geographically separated places at the same time. Believe me, sometimes I try. Also, my new job gives me free access to the Yuchengco Museum, anyway.

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Sunday was for the concert at Ayala Museum. Grammy award-winning pianist Edsel Gomez was there to perform with Nelson Gonzales (drums), Johnny Gaerlan (bass), Tusa Montes, Harold Santos, and Jacques Dufourt (percussion section from UP College of Music’s Asian Music Program).

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I’ve been exploring the music of jazz clarinetist Don Byron lately, because I’ve also recently decided to focus on my clarinet studies. That’s how I first came across the works of Edsel Gomez. Byron and Gomez worked together in Cubist Music, an album that features improvisation based on Cubist Art. The latin jazz pianist has also collaborated with vibraphonist Gary Burton of the Berklee College of Music, whose online improvisation courses I’ve been following.

So I was excited to listen to him perform live and wondered if I can remember the titles from his latin jazz compositions. There are a few pieces I was expecting him to play to the audience, some of whom I bet have been following his music closely.

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That night I was reminded of what draws me to jazz: its unpredictability.

During the introduction, Gomez told us how he studied Filipino instruments and music, then enchanted us with the way he mixed it with his own style. I sensed the same fascination in the audience as we listened to numbers, such as Bahay Kubo (Nipa Hut) and some war chants, rendered in jazz and mixed with music from ethnic instruments, such as kulintang, kubing, etc., by the artists from UP’s Asian Music Program. Gaerlan and Gonzales (who owns Tago Jazz Cafe in Cubao) perfects the chemistry needed to seal the fresh sound we were hearing.

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Edsel Gomez didn’t tell us how he would call the music they performed that night. I wish I’d asked. I also need to see them perform again, hopefully at the Philippine International Jazz Festival next year.

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