In what may be the most ironic art unveiling of the year, Manila City mayor Isko “Yorme” Moreno was joined by German Ambassador, Anke Reiffenstual earlier this week to unveil Berlin Wall Fragment number 22 at the Kartilya ng Katipunan park area. The wall fragment, covered in graffiti tags was installed in a protective glass casing and accompanied by an engraved metal placard to educate visitors to the park of the historical significance of the wall fragment.
Ten of Metro Manila’s finest contemporary art galleries have put together a fresh and new tent-pole event for the Philippine Art Month calendar. It’s called ALT Philippines, and they are saying that they want to “re-frame the art show.”
Set in SM Aura in Taguig City’s Fort Bonifacio area, the show opened today and we were there at the preview to see what they’ve brought out So have they been able to do something different? We visited the show, and here are some things we saw that made the visit worth the trip to SM Aura.
Jade Suayan has pulled out all the stops. It’s very rare to find an artist who can match their artistic vision with technical ability, and this is one of the things that makes this show so special.
Walking into the show requires you to bend your head, entering through a parking gate pylon into a concept exhibit where the entire room has been transformed into a purple parking garage.
Don’t Miss Archie Geotina’s Show at Provenance Gallery. True to his street art roots, Geotina has chosen wheat paste as the primary media for this exhibit. We say primary because the prints are actually bonded onto aluminum sheets which have been wrought to communicate even deeper messaging. Utilizing this medium he has become very familiar with as a young graffiti artist, the images serve as primary way of starting his dialogue.
John Matos is a pioneering graffiti writer who began his career as a graffiti artist in the early to mid 1970’s. Most know him as Crash, and he’s a living legend. We caught up with Crash in Singapore, where he was a guest at Culture Cartel, a street cultures indoor festival at the F1 Pit Lane and launching his collaboration with Stash on Casio’s G-Shock.
Nike’s Hyper Court @ BGC has operated as the city’s hub for basketball and Nike training caps since 2017. At the end of 2019, it will end that over-two year run and return the property, which has been reclaimed for redevelopment by its landowners.
To celebrate the good work done at the location and to mark the closure of the Nike Hyper Court, the brand held two 3×3 tournaments. One for female, and one for female athletes. On that date, Adjima’s sister organization, #HoneycombArts was there to help commemorate the day with an installation dubbed “Victory. Challenges. Moments.”
“Are they turning Cubao Expo into a mall?” I’ve heard this question over and over these last few weeks. I do happen to know the answer, but there is a lot more nuance to it then can be discussed in an editorial like this one. However, I can tell you this: Cubao has changed a lot in the almost four years that I’ve been running Kendo Creative there.
But before we get into that, it is with a heavy heart that we must announce that both Kendo and our independently run subsidiary, Hidden Space are closing and leaving Cubao Expo at the end of September 2019. That’s today.
I understand that this does probably come as a shock to many of you, as it did to us when found out about this via an anti-dated letter for which there was no previous notice whether in writing or verbally. The decision was made unilaterally by the Cubao Expo Admin and they did not state a reason for not renewing our lease this time, as they have done many times over our over three and a half year run in this location. While they did not state a reason as to why we are not being renewed, we do have our very informed guesses as to why.
There are probably two or three possible factors that may have contributed to the situation. But if you ask me, this ultimately came down to one incident where a younger member of the owners’ family was inappropriate to our guests over some period of time and to myself on one particular Saturday night at around 10PM, while the shop was full of customers. I politely but firmly asked that he stop doing that and that we set a meeting on a weekday, during work hours to discuss business. He stormed out. I later found out that the Aquinos believed that I should have let this younger gentleman behave however inappropriately he wanted to behave, simply because “he’s a billionaire.”
Either way, since they only gave us 24 days’ notice, we see this as a betrayal of the friendship and trust that we’ve built up with them over the years and as such, we do not wish to be in business with them anymore either. The truth is that it has always been difficult to deal with the admin, but new changes that they made over the last year strained our relationship with them to its limits.
We would be celebrating our fourth anniversary if we had made it to December of this year. It’s been a total of 45 months of operation. That’s longer than a lot of people spend in college. And perhaps the Shop 33 experience has been just that: a place to learn new things and build new friendships.
Last Saturday, over 500 people came to say goodbye to our little 72 square meter home. Inside, regular guests and members of the Kendo family broke into tears. Meanwhile, dozens of art lovers chanted “Hidden Space! Hidden Space!” in the streets until the guards came with their whistles and tried to silence them.
These were signs of what made Kendo special and why the final art show, “Farewell Shop 33” was so fitting. Upstairs in Hidden Space, 6X6” art works covered the walls. Almost all disciplines were represented: traditional acrylic and oil painting, graffiti, graphic design, collage, tattoo art, and even sculptural works. It showed how diverse the Shop 33 community is and has been over the years. The small 6X6” format came to be symbolic of how each contributed in their own way and came to own a small part of the space themselves. Downstairs, over 300 photographs lined the walls in a gallery showing our history and the good times we spent in this space. It showed art, connection, family, and shop 33 as a home.
I think that this is ultimately why letting go of Kendo and Hidden Space is so difficult for all of us. After the re-branding of The Appraisery and the closing of Gold Digger, The Reading Room, Russ, and Cosmic gorgons all within the span of just a few months, what this particular closure seems to mark is the end of an era for Cubao Expo.
I remember a Cubao where artists were free. Free to be themselves. Free to play music on the streets. Where rap battles were welcome and drum lines broke out spontaneously. Graffiti artists would line the gutters, gearing up before hitting the streets to bomb at midnight. And while artists have still chosen to make Cubao Expo their haven, there has been a crackdown on such freedoms by the administration of the Cubao Expo property who have told me that their desire is to have the property become a mall one day.
So I dream of a new place that is similar to Cubao Expo, but where the owners actively desire to support artists and the arts. Kind of like a giant Kendo. A place that exists for the sake of the art and the culture. One that is not driven by the ego of the Aquino family. A place that is truly artist-run. An Arts Center with solid economics and business strategy to make this lifestyle possible for decades to come. You know I can do it.
Kayo Cosio is the Editor in Chief at Adjima Magazine, Daily Drink Magazine, and Next Action Phase. Over the years, he has spearheaded over 50 urban public art projects, including the ArtBGC Mural Festival. He is also the Master Planner at HoneycombManila Collaborative Studios at DoubleDragon Plaza, a 1200 square meter coworking space where Kendo partner Ynna and Hidden Space founder, Miggy are members of the board of directors. Kayo together with his wife, Nica have run Kendo Creative since day one.
On the hook of “Maestro,” the Kartell’em crew rap how they’re intent on letting the city know who they are, that they’re set to “make this place aware.” It’s a mission statement, and they’re definitely doing a good job following through on that promise. To do so, they’re aiming higher than the stage and looking to the sky. Specifically the rooftops. If you gaze out the window of the LRT in Manila, you might spot a recent big ‘ole blockbuster at eye level with the train screaming TELL’EM. It’s so crispy it looks like an advertisement, which we guess it is, but it’s a DIY one painted by the crew themselves to promote an upcoming tee collab with cmplct.
Skateboarding. Punk rock. Graffiti. They’re all pretty aggressive subcultures, outlets that allow angry kids to express themselves. And Distort Monsters has been here for all of them since he was little. Whether out in QC on his board during middle school, running around Metro with a can in high school, or penning angsty punk songs all along, it was a way for him to channel his mood into relatively positive ways. And it paid off too, considering that he’s opening his first solo art show this Sunday, courtesy of the good people at Secret Fresh. [Full disclosure: Distort is now part of the Honeycomb team.]
The exhibition is Nada’s fifth solo show, coming off of a hiatus of six years since his fourth. So the title “Homecoming” is fitting, marking his return to the gallery setting. Those familiar with his personal street art style and murals scattered around the San Juan and Quezon City area will be interested to see how his style has evolved. And evolved it has, revealing a secondary meaning to the show’s title: come into the Nada household.