The making of Future Legends
by Phillip Somozo
A handful of homegrown Davao visual artists are out to prove something in New York. Having either won prizes or entered the finals of international art competitions they joined in, Artisthood art group members are exhibiting their works at the Philippine Center-New York in April 10-21, 2006. Title of the exhibition is
“5 artists, 5 paths life as our art art as our journey”
Leading the cast of featured artists is multi-awardee Artisthood founder Ega Carreon and 2002 Asian Freeman competition winner Ben Banez Jr. The rest are art competition consistent finalist Bong Espinosa, cutting-edge conceptual artist Paul Corpus (now Canada-based), and this writer.
The five painters, diverse in both style and substance, are showcasing works that could tickle the extra-olfactory ability of grizzly critics whose habitat is Art New York. This is so because Artisthood’s achievement — loose and young an art group that it is — like a smooth and flat stone pitched on still waters, creates ripples reaching the United States, Europe, Japan, and Canada.
In October 2005, Artisthood member Michael Bauzon won special prize in the Jules Verne-inspired Decourtenay Art Prize based in Belgium. In 2003, Carreon won third in the Internet International Art & Photo Competetion launched from Japan, while colleagues Espinosa, Jun Pamisa and Rodney Yap reached its finals twice, in 2003 and 2004. The year 2002, Artisthood’s foundation year, was even more prolific when three founding members became finalists to Dracoblu-Canada’s International Symbolist Online Art Competition. This too is the same year that Banez bagged the top prize of Vermont Studio Center’s Asian Freeman painting competition, with Pamisa placing second. The fact that Artisthood’s epicenter, Davao, Philippines, had been intermittently under “travel advisory” by rich countries makes Artisthood a sociological curiosity, if not a phenomenal art group.
Interpreted in simple terms, Artisthood’s growing number of international art achievers reiterates Davao as one of Asia’s most livable cities. A flourishing sector in the arts, being society’s highest expression of refinement, tells it all. Davao should be allowed to continue to grow as tourist and investment destination. After all, its hardworking people deserves a shot at achieving their hopes and aspirations for a self-determined peace and development. Only the uncivilized would disagree to that. But paranoia, especially of international proportions, could muddle the pleasant realization of a collective dream with aberrant misconceptions.
Intentional or not, a travel advisory suggests to the minds of men that a Third World city, under terrrorism’s threat, is no breeding ground for world class artists. But almost a dozen combined international art awards and recognition in its 3-year existence speaks well of Artisthood. It may be more accurate to say that Third World inhospitability to the arts is what makes Artisthood shine.
Very recently, symbolist Carreon and hardcore surrealist Banez signed a contract with Sorrell Publishing House (Elmhurst, NY), represented by the socialite husband and wife tandem of Nicholas and Victoria Mascetta, to have their work published in the 4th edition of a hardbound and full-color coffetable book called “Best of New York, Impressions in Continuity.” Carreon and Banez will fill twenty pages of the chapter “Future Legends.”
Banez, too, was included in the list of top contemporary surrealists appearing in the article “What’s New in the Surreal World?” by Terrance Lindall. Said article was published in the Arts & Antique Magazine, March 2006, in New York. In August 6 to September 24, 2006, he is scheduled to hold his first-ever one-person exhibition in the United States at the Amarin Cafe in New York.
All things considered, Artisthood’s humble beginnings and the travel advisory on Davao are but water under the bridge, so to speak. Mystics have a term for Artisthood’s crossing the bridge: transcendence. It is easy to observe that the problem with trying to stifle stars by intensifying darkness is they shine brighter.
Artisthood’s group exhibition is being sponsored by Dabawenyo-USA association members, as represented by husband and wife Nikki and Daisy Torres, Patricia Weiss, and Ms. Sandra Naraval.The Philippine Center-New York is located in 556 Fifth Avenue corner 46th Street, Manhattan, New York City. For more information please call PhilCenter-NY (212) 575-4774.