SHARING A COLLECTION. Most art collectors keep their collections behind close “door”. So private that some people compare their art repositories to that of a black hole since anything they have acquired are never seen again.
But foremost Filipino art patron Dr. Joven Cuanang thinks differently. Within his expansive private villa in Antipolo called the Silangan Gardens, he has put up Pinto Art Museum to unselfishly share his extraordinary collection with the public, allowing appreciation for Filipino contemporary art accessible to many.
THE MUSEUM COMPLEX. When we first visited the Silangan Gardens in 2008, we were told about the plans of building a museum on the sloping area within the property. The museum has been envisioned to permanently exhibit Dr. Cuanang’s vast collection of paintings and artworks he has acquired over the past 25 years. In our recent visit, we saw that the Pinto Art Museum has become a reality.
Designed by Antonio Leaño, the same artist-architect who conceptualized Pinto Art Gallery and Dr. Cuanang’s Ilocano-Mexican Home, Pinto Art Museum took two years to complete. Consistent with the style of the original Pinto Art Gallery, the museum is also a fusion of different styles and themes. But what’s amazing is how the once rolling hillside has been transformed into an architectural complex that conforms to the rugged landscape of the property.
GRUPO SALINGPUSA. From the garden courtyard, the museum complex is reached via wide concrete steps following the downward slope of the landscape.
The steps lead to the first gallery where the collaborative mural of the Grupo Salingpusa entitled Karnabal gives visitors a golpe de gulat as they continue descending the cemented steps of this cavernous space.
GARIBAY. Just like an amphitheater, we sat at the different levels to view the artworks on the whitewalls from different perspectives. Paintings exhibited in this gallery are mostly by Emmanuel Garibay.
BORLONGAN. A narrow portal to the left side of the first gallery leads to another spacious exhibition space filled with painting by Elmer Borlongan.
CONTEMPORARY ART. This second gallery has a long hall with concrete steps that again follows the contour of the hillside.
The ramp at the center of the steps provide visitors in wheelchair the access to view the artworks by Rodel Tapaya, Niel Manalo, Karen Flores, Marika Constantino, Ferdie Montemayor, Geraldine Javier, Jim Orencio, Mark Justiniani, Alfred Esquillo, and more contemporary artworks by Filipino artists that Dr. Cuanang has interacted with through the years.
GALLERY AFTER GALLERY. Connected by gravel walkway and traviesa steps from the second gallery is the third gallery with a Leeroy New sculpture on its whitewashed wall. This hall exhibits more contemporary works by Joven Mansit, Ruiz Tence Ruiz, Leeroy New.
AMBETH’S WEEKEND LECTURES. With its spacious halls, the museum plans to host events that are aimed to promote Filipino art heritage and culture. These events range from lectures to concerts and performances.
One recent event we attended was the unveiling of the Jose Rizal sculpture by Salvador Alonday in front of the garden chapel and a lecture led by popular historian Dr. Ambeth Ocampo. The unveiling event and Rizal lecture are Pinto’s way of commemorating the 150th birthday of the national hero.
DR. JOVEN CUANANG. Since 2008, we have been regularly visiting Silangan Gardens to see and learn from the gallery’s changing exhibits. It is through these changing exhibitions where we were first introduced to the works of geniuses like Mark Justiniani, Elmer Borlongan, Manny Garibay, and Jose Santos III.
EPILOGUE. In Filipino, pinto means door. It is a word suggesting a portal or an opening. It was in Dr. Cuanang’s Pinto where once upon a time a group of young artists found a sanctuary to develop and showcase their works. Eventually, these talented individuals have become the most accomplished Filipino artists of our generation.
True to its purpose and aim, Dr. Cuanang’s Pinto Art Museum has indeed opened its “door” not just for the artists but also for the ordinary people who has come to this museum to have their eyes and spirit open to the colorful world of Filipino contemporary art.