ERLOWISM: Why Bukidnon arts (and artists) don’t flourish

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MALAYBALAY CITY (BukidnonNews.Net/10 February 2020)—Three things:  the artist, the arts and the art community.

I was able to stage nine solo art exhibits already, conducted art workshops for years and developed my own aesthetic (ArtDance), wrote a book, designed a Creative Community and Economy Development Program (and my wife’s wedding gown!). I also posted a bid for the Guinness World Record for the Longest Painting by an Individual Artist. I have done all these without any concrete support from the government or from anyone.

That is presumably expected for artists, who cannot wait for “bureaucratic collaboration.” We are too proud to do it all by ourselves. We obliged ourselves to do it all alone. We always maintain that Bohemian pride of being indispensably “immortal,” introvertly silent, independent and self-reliant and intentionally melancholic.

We don’t want too much noise. So with our artworks and workplaces. We meditate, discern, conceptualize and dream. We strongly demand for that tranquil domain. Just imagine how hard it is for us to live and survive with the rest of the earthlings (including the meddling of Earthling wife, sa ilalim ng dilaw na buwan!) who treat us like bipolar Martians with all the bureaucracies.

This deific pride evidently affects most of our arts. And while it is very challenging and extremely rewarding, it is common for artists to find it difficult making a living by selling their artworks, causing many to explore other career options with steadier income or just conform to the demand, prescriptions, and dictate of the commissioning market.

For Bukidnon artists, the expectation is to be ethnic, cultural, tribal, exotic and into soil.

Art is a 30,000-year-old craft that evolved from cave to canvas and almost covers all subjects and concepts one can think of. The only new that we can offer to our audience is our own unique concepts but it becomes impossible should we conform to these stereotypes.

However, that is not basically the concern of the local artists at present. In the absence of a fitting place to hang his works, he is begging for a piece of that Tourism Booth during Kaamulan Festival where he can dump his works like “ukay-ukay,” struggling to catch the attention of the passers-by being mesmerized with thousands-worth fireworks display sponsored by the local government. The same authorities who can put up a millions worth of infrastructures but cannot afford a decent showroom-gallery or museum to showcase the creative ingenuity of our local artists and indigenous peoples.

Schools and universities in our region offer degrees in medicine, engineering, law, international studies, and postgraduate studies among others, but never Fine Arts. Yet Contemporary Arts subjects were taught in the Department of Education’s K to 12 curriculum, handled by non-artist teachers using art “history” textbook.

That’s why I always find faith to local artists and legends, especially those who stayed and tried to survive in their local hometowns (such as Waway Saway, Jun Detomal, Simon Mindaro). They encourage young people to enhance their creative talents, significantly to those who can’t afford formal education in distant communities.

There’s more advocacy to what they are into than just a hobby or money-making. But to sustain the advocacy, at least buy one of their works!

Art is not caged, boxed, or negotiated, prescribed or compromised; art is untamed and free.

They are not meant to be hanged on empty walls to become expensive in some other times.

One has nothing to teach about art but a lot to share and too much to grasp. And who can decide what is sagacious or hallow? Who can accurately define art? Only those who loves his craft, purpose, and being.

When Christ performs His first miracle in the wedding of Cana, and transformed water into wine, it was for Him more of an art than a miracle. Miracle is not a big thing for a God; it is the art of relationship, union, celebration, and love in response.

Everyone is an artist (even those beloved K-12 teachers) and everything is all about art. Why can’t we just let it flourish?


(The author is a surrealist painter and activist who “rises for truth, justice and life.” He believes that every man’s work is a portrait of himself. ERLOWISM is his column for BukidnonViews, the opinion section of BukidnonNews.Net. Reach him via editor.bukidnonnews@gmail.com

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