In the list of quintessential experiences for culture travelers, a museum visit falls somewhere between joining historical walking tours and authentic food crawls. Museums, after all, are the staging grounds of culture. Through the artists’ retrospect of life reflected in each oeuvre, voracious minds are able to devour new knowledge about the past, the hidden social issues facing the community, and interesting cross-cultural perspectives worth sharing with those back home.
But in their grandness—both in symbolic value and structure-wise—art institutions can still seem intimidating to those not steeped in that world. The result: many people shy away from actually stepping inside. The good news is that art is always changing, the appetites of museumgoers are evolving fast, and museums have learned to adapt to make art more immersive, embracing, and borderless.
To celebrate National Arts Month, we’re making a beeline for these renegade art spaces that deserve praise for bringing art closer to the community. From multi-arts festivals to creative playgrounds disguised as bars, here's a shortlist of creative spaces and events that will convince you to rekindle your love affair with art.
Vinyl on Vinyl
Living harmoniously under the same roof as its fellow contemporary art spaces Finale Art File and NOVA Gallery Manila, Vinyl on Vinyl is a multifarious venue that merges commercial art like vinyl toys and collectibles (think “Can of Worms” and a figurine called “Red Hoodie Doggie”) as well as bold art exhibits by modern-day pop culture artists like Blic Pinas, Anjo Bolarda, and Dennis Bato. Those swinging by this February will be treated to "Art House", a stimulating group exhibition curated by Spektacularis co-founder Stephanie Frondoso composed of paintings, furniture, and mixed-media installations that elucidate the colorful nature of a home. While the topic seems like the most welcoming gateway to the art world, you can also check the exhibition schedule on their website and plan your visit according to whichever piques your curiosity.
2241 Pasillo 18
La Fuerza Compound 1
Chino Roces Avenue, Makati
(02) 8260 0020
Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 12NN – 7PM
Saturday x Future Market
If you’re looking for an authentic and meaningful experience, don’t miss the Saturday x Future Market this February 22 to 23. A jab against mindless mass production, artists collective 98B COLLABoratory regularly puts together a no-frills garage sale and flea market-themed bazaar by artists for artists. Once a month, the famous art deco building along Escolta street witnesses a congregation of artists, who sit on trade floors or set up tiny stalls to sell their wares—ranging from old cameras, thrifted clothes, and vintage china, to painted tote bags and sticker sets they personally made. This refreshing initiative allows the public to connect, converse, and build relationships with the people behind the eclectic collections, and be active in helping these independent artists sustain their practice.
First United Building, 413 Escolta Street
Bazaar Hours: Saturday to Sunday, 11AM - 8PM
The wunderkind in the long-established artsy neighborhood of Poblacion, KONDWI is a conduit for dinner, drinks, and dialogues through art and its fluidity. You can come here merely as a dining guest and allow yourself to be naturally engulfed in the experience. Feast your eyes on the art pieces and quirky installations on display, sip on crazy cocktails crafted by master alchemists, or simply hang out at the voguish lounge area designed by visual artist Leeroy New. When you’ve loosened up, climb the spiral staircase that leads to the upper floor concealing an open stage for rotating exhibits, terrarium or flower bouquet workshops, and even Salsa classes. Try to catch the "S2pid Lüv" event on February 22, a night of dissecting love through spoken word acts, flexing your emotions, and enjoying a free drink on the house!
6109 Albert Street
(0917) 718 1019
Bar Hours: Monday, 6PM-1AM; Tuesday to Friday, 12NN-1AM; Saturday, 12NN-2AM; Sunday, 12NN-6PM
From KONDWI, walk southeast to Galeria Lagman building where you’ll find Pineapple Lab, an artist-run creative hub that innovates the way locals consume today’s emerging art forms by cultivating a culture of participation. There are creative community pop-up shops and art exhibitions happening within its walls from time to time, but nothing gets more traction than their annual Edinburgh Fringe-inspired festival Fringe MNL, poised as the country’s most diverse multi-arts festival. Running from February 12 to 29 in Makati and Cebu, this year’s installment includes an all-things-free artists’ bazaar, life story writing workshop, animation crash course, live improv show, and a five-man movement performance.
6053 R. Palma Street
(02) 834 5763
Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Friday, 11AM – 6PM
Headquartered in a unit above the oldest language school in the country, Craft MNL is where artists and crafters come together to let their talents flourish. Through intimate sessions with artisans-turned-creative entrepreneurs behind local businesses such as Lamana, Saan Saan, and Soul Flower, you’ll learn jewelry making, pottery, woodworking, soap making, leather crafting, and calligraphy. These workshops make art thoroughly immersive and enjoyable, giving you a concrete output you can appreciate. With its special lineup for February, Craft MNL gives you the perfect chance to tap into your creativity, find your passion, and connect with like-minded individuals.
Unit 302 Pamana-Languages Building
926 Arnaiz Avenue, Makati
(02) 8744 5509
Workshop schedules vary.
Artinformal wasn't originally in Makati, nor was it a gallery. Much like Craft MNL, it began as a workshop in Tina Fernandez's home, wherein students learned to appreciate art in an informal fashion. Today, you can choose from two ways to immerse yourself, depending on which gallery you'll visit. Unlike her home-based gallery in San Juan that promotes curator-led group exhibitions, the newer space in Makati runs solo shows by artists chosen by Tina herself, like Leonardo Onia Jr.'s Maximum Tolerance and Felix Bacolor's Balancing Acts, which are currently running until the end of the month. While you're in the area, squeeze in a trip to Aphro nearby. Hosting an ongoing exhibit called "Open House", this art and design concept store doubles as the extension of the gallery, where you can appreciate art in an informal fashion, too.
The Alley at Karrivin
2316 Chino Roces Avenue Ext., Makati
(02) 839 1772
Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10AM - 7PM
277 Connecticut St. Greenhills East, Mandaluyong
(02) 8725 8518
Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10AM - 7PM
Art Fair Philippines
The list wouldn't be complete without Art Fair Philippines. First held eight years ago, it has established itself as the biggest art market in the country that puts the spotlight on the best in Philippine contemporary art. This February 21 to 23, its venue, The Link, will once again be a temporary shelter to paintings, sculptures, photography, and interactive installations plucked from galleries like Altro Mondo, León Gallery, and Pintô Art Museum to offer collectors and enthusiasts a look at all artistic trends in a unique gallery-hopping experience. But among the shiny, new things to behold are the incubators—creative spaces that step outside the mainstream gallery format. Art appreciation activities like workshops and lectures by respected practitioners are also scheduled throughout the affair so you won’t feel lost while exploring the 4-floor monumental exhibition.
The Link Carpark
Ayala Center, Makati
Exhibit Hours: Friday to Sunday, 10AM - 9PM
The Ateneo Art Gallery
With Ateneo being one of the staunch purveyors of arts and humanities in the country, it’s no shocker that the university is also where the first museum of Philippine modern art found its home. Tucked inside the millennial-friendly creative hub fondly called Areté, The Ateneo Art Gallery is mind-blowing in its scale of sheer worth of treasures. It's home to more than 500 works of art revealing the Philippine art movements after the war—most of which were donated by the late Fernando Zobel for students to study, and by philanthropists and post-war artists who followed suit. It’s unlikely you’ll miss the massive blue wall decked with 100 paintings by Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, but it’s well worth making time for the prized collection of works by national artists Arturo Luz, Hernando Ocampo, Benedicto Cabrera, and more. While this already made it to our 2018 museum list, you can look forward to four new displays on going this February, including a seminal photography exhibition featuring over 30 Filipino artists. And with the admission being free, this gallery merits more than one visit!
Soledad V Pangilinan Arts Wing, Areté Building
Ateneo de Manila University, Katipunan Avenue
Loyola Heights, Quezon City
(032) 8426 6488
(032) 8426 6001 loc. 5392
Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 9AM-7PM; Sunday, 9AM - 5PM
Remember: art is everywhere, only if you know where to find it!
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