Looking for Juan artwork exhibition 2009

Looking for Juan
By Walter Ang
May 18, 2009
Philippine Daily Inquirer

"What Does It Mean to Be Filipino?" is a question contemplated by Gigo Alampay, executive director of the Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (Canvas).

Having lived abroad for a number of years, he said, "Without judgment, Americans find it easy to say who they are. Here in our country, it's sometimes easier to answer 'What is a BatangueƱo, or what is an Ilocano?' than it is to answer `What is a Filipino?' There may be some stereotypes for regional identities, but at least there are characteristic identifiers. However, as a nation, sometimes it's not easy to figure out who we are."

He added, "There's a notion that our lack of national identity may be one of the reasons why some people feel the Philippines has not really lived up to its full potential."

To get people thinking about possible answers, Alampay founded Canvas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of greater awareness and appreciation for Philippine art, culture and the environment through art exhibitions designed to explore issues of national identity, environment and free expression.

Canvas' latest endeavor is the "Looking for Juan Outdoor Banner Project," an exhibition of artworks by some of the best contemporary Filipino artists who attempt to provide visual answers to the discussion.

Public engagement
"The project aims to collect at least a hundred artworks that will be reproduced as tarpaulin banners that will then be displayed in two highly accessible and pedestrian-friendly venues," said Alampay.

"The Looking for Juan Outdoor Banner Project will showcase some of the country's best creative talents. Artists, graphic designers and photographers have been asked to express their idea of the Filipino identity," he said. "The project is designed to engage visitors with its art-driven messaging about the Filipino identity. It will be a new kind of experience that allows visitors to view and appreciate great art as well as explore important social themes in a non-intimidating, relaxed, and creative environment."

The first forty to fifty original works that will be reproduced as banners were launched at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in an intimate ceremony led by Alampay. The artworks will be on display until June 7. This original artwork exhibit will transfer to the Alab Art Space gallery (Intellectual Property Philippines Building along Buendia St., Makati) on June 8.

Meanwhile, the first outdoor banner exhibit will be at the end of May at the new Philippine Pacific Rim Friendship Park in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. The second will be in June at the University of the Philippines' Academic Oval in Diliman. "Just in time for opening of classes and Independence Day," he added.

Park for all
Canvas has been actively involved with The Pacific Rim Project to build a Friendship Park in Puerto Princesa. Architecture and art students from different countries like China, South Korea, the United States, Russia, and Mexico were flown in earlier this month to interact with counterpart Filipino students. These volunteers will design, present to the city government, and actually build the whole park under the artistic supervision of leading artists, architects and urban planners in just 30 days.

After the park is completed, it is given as a gift to the citizens of the Pacific and to the host city. All parks are for the public and are directly connected to the Pacific Ocean. The park will then become part of a network of Friendship Parks ringing the Pacific. There are already four parks in US, Russia, China and Mexico.

To date, participants in the Looking For Juan Outdoor Banner Exhibit include Buen Abrigo, Leonard Aguinaldo, Daniel Aligaen, Mark Arcamo, Ral Arogante, Anton Balao, Jeho Bitangcor, Plet Bolipata, Malyn Bonayog, Elmer Borlongan, Serj Bumatay, Michael Cacnio, Buen Calubayan, Jef Carnay, Marika Constantino, Dansoy Coquilla, Jigger Cruz, Don Dalmacio, Crisanto De Leon, Maan De Loyola, Farley del Rosario, Anthony Fermin, Tina Fernandez, Karen Flores, Liza Flores, Emmanuel Garibay, Sajid Imao, Agang Maganda, Josue Mangrobang, Lotsu Manes, Roel Obemio, Jay Pacena II, Anthony Palo, Anthony Palomo, Marcial Pontillas, Jucar Raquepo, Iggy Rodriguez, Kirby Roxas, Mark Salvatus, Julios Samson, Andoi Solon, Angelo Tabije, CJ Tanedo, Daniel Tayona, Juanito Torres, Wesley Valenzuela, Ian Valladarez, and Liv Vinluan.

Selected students from the UP College of Fine Arts, members of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan, various creative writers, as well as a number of graphic design and advertising studios are also involved.

After the end of the outdoor banner exhibits, the banners will be recycled by two women's communities in Antipolo and Laguna into tote bags and sold as original works of functional art. Proceeds from the sale of the tote bags will support Padyak, a U.P. Mountaineers-led movement to promote environmentalism and cycling as a healthy lifestyle.

For details, visit lookingforjuan.blogspot.com or www.canvas.ph.

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