When I signed up to attend Art Over Coffee, an event co-presented by Ayala Museum and Fundacion Sansó and sponsored by The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®, I didn’t really have a concrete idea as to what it was about. All I knew was art, in any form, ignites the senses, and coffee, in various blends, heightens the senses. The combination of both definitely brings euphoria to anyone who is naturally inclined to art. Whether to create, appreciate, or collaborate, art over coffee allows us to connect with other people in meaningful, and maybe even life-changing ways. That’s why I knew I needed to be there.
A few minutes after 3:00 PM, the artists behind Sansó: Setting the Stage were already preparing to tour us around the third floor of the Ayala Museum, where the exhibit is located.
Ricky Francisco, the exhibit curator, started the tour by presenting to us Juvenal Sansó’s early works. The exhibit showcases how the artist starts with simple sketches until he creates detailed paintings, to which his costumes and set designs are based from.
Set designer Toym Imao, and costume designer James Reyes, also spent some time to elaborate on their reinterpretation of Sansó’s works. The former produced a maquette and installations, while the latter made his version of the costumes sketched by Sansó himself.
As they spoke, you can hear the passion, hard work, and dedication they’ve put into this exhibit. We could almost sense Sansó in the room because of how well-presented everything was. It was as if his work was being unveiled right in front of our eyes.
After the mini tour, we went back to the lobby to hear more about the craft of these inspiring artists.
Tour and Q&A
The setup of the event was very conducive for earnest conversations. Instead of the usual 300 to 400 guests, Ayala Museum only accommodated 20 or so, which I believe made the talk even more impactful and stimulating.
It was a rainy afternoon, but the rich-tasting coffee kept us warm. The moist blurred the windows and the raindrops provided the perfect backdrop for the messages of these artists to stand out. Imao and Reyes presented their works in theater, explaining how they started, expounding on their creative processes, and sharing their challenges and how they triumphed over them.
What Makes an Artist
As I was listening to them speak, I couldn’t help but jot down notes because of how insightful their thoughts were. Here are some of the things they mentioned that contribute to an artist’s success and fulfillment:
- Exploration and Flexibility
Imao mentioned that as artists, we need to be open to exploring different art forms, being flexible enough to leave our comfort zones. For instance, he started out as a sculptor and painter, but he now also works as a set designer for different theater plays and musicals. When tapped by Francisco to be part of this exhibit, he gladly obliged, saying we should “jump on the opportunity when it comes.”
Moreover, Imao also mentioned that authenticity “gives more depth to your work” as an artist. Being true to what you want to express, after all, is what makes your work stand out. Authenticity will be your brand, a tacit trademark of every work you put out there.
Reyes talked about the challenges of working on a limited budget, which is kind of the norm in the Philippine theater industry. Francisco added that it’s amazing how much material artists come up with on such limited budgets. That’s when the term “resourcefulness” was mentioned. As an artist, you have to look for ways to work around your budget and deliver high-quality results despite the shortage of funds. After all, resourcefulness is just another test of creativity.
Imao and Reyes worked together for certain theater productions. They talked about being conscious with how your creations will translate on stage. Yes, we have the freewill to express ourselves through art, but having consciousness as to how they will appear in the eyes of your audience is also vital to successfully and effectively send your message across.
- Willingness to Collaborate
Imao believes that collaborating with other artists will lead to much-needed growth. He stated, “When you’re deep into your profession, it’s a breath of fresh air to see other people’s work.” Imao also said that in theater, the goal of the director should be the goal of everyone involved. As artists, we may have egos, but setting it aside to work towards a common goal is the beauty of collaborations.
During the start of the talk, a participant introduced herself as an “amateur artist.” Towards the end, Imao addressed this and told her to “drop the term ‘amateur’ and just say ‘artist.’” After all, you have to believe in yourself and your craft first before anyone else does. He said, “We are vehicles of visions and images, and we have to put it out there in tangible forms.”
The event ended with a question from a participant, asking if they ever got to talk to Sansó himself to know what he thought of their interpretation of his works. Imao said that even though they didn’t get to speak a lot with Sansó, just the way he looked at and interacted with their works is an even bigger testament of appreciation from the man. This is where they found fulfillment.
Check out the Sansó: Setting the Stage exhibit, which will run until September 18, 2016, on the third floor of Ayala Museum.
This was Ayala Museum’s maiden Art Over Coffee event. Follow their Facebook page to know when the next ones will be.