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Davao City, Philippines

Art Hunt Davao 2019: Celebrating art and entrepreneurship

August 15, 2019 - Thursday 4:08 AM by Grace Gaston Dousel

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“Art Hunt mounted workshops and talks that were guaranteed to unleash the imagination, fan the flame of ingenuity, and inspire beauty.”

Last weekend was unlike any other. Our homeschoolers immersed themselves in art and entrepreneurship in a sanctuary that cradled both. The Art Hunt Davao 2019 was the venue of the culmination of Arrows & Quivers Homeschool Hub’s art apprenticeship and entrepreneurship programs for children ages six to eighteen. It was the first of its kind and it was the first time for the kids to get exposed to the world of artists and to the arena of business at the same time through our booth. Our art apprentices displayed their work and our junior entrepreneurs sold their handcrafted items and manned a food booth. Ours was the only booth propelled entirely by children and featuring the works of children. It was an exhilarating learning experience that these young artists and entrepreneurs started to plan for the next year’s Art Hunt even before this year’s festivities ended.

Many visited the Arrows & Quivers booth and the kids enthusiastically engaged their visitors, talked to them about their products, their art and their entrepreneurial project. Most of all they talked about homeschooling, how much they loved it, and how their participation in the Art Hunt was one of the results of being homeschooled. One visitor they had that left a mark was when accomplished artist and curator of Bintana Galleries, Alex Alagon, passed by. As always, our homeschoolers jumped to the occasion and upon saying “Hello!” caught Alex’s attention. He stayed on to encourage the kids to continue painting, to aim for mounting an exhibit, and possibly exhibiting at his gallery! Alex also invited the kids to have a tour of Bintana Galleries.

The Art Hunt brought together creatives and artisans from all over Davao at the Sanctuary Art Pavilion in Maa. It was the brainchild of renowned Dabawenyo visual artist Victor Secuya and curated by painter Amanda Fe Echevarria, who is one of the art mentors at Arrows & Quivers Homeschool Hub. It featured booths where people could hunt for all kinds of artwork, artisan crafts ranging from fashion accessories to wood work to bonsai art plants to 3D puzzles. The Art Hunt also mounted workshops and talks that were guaranteed to unleash the imagination, fan the flame of ingenuity, and inspire beauty.

 Victor Secuya held an art talk where he discussed about the need to encourage what he calls “creative economy” in our city. “Art is a different commodity,” he said, “therefore our city must help us build a marketing infrastructure that would encourage the growth of creative economy.” He shared about his trip to Antwerp where he learned that artists like Rubens were exporting artworks as early as the 1500s and how artists were well compensated by their work because they were not limited to the local market. He also cited the example of Ann Pamintuan whose work on metal furniture has reached worldwide acclaim and feeds the European market with her artistic designs. Victor Secuya went on to explain that pricing a work of art is dependent on three things: 1) the cost of materials such as canvas and paint; 2) the labor cost which includes the number of hours an artist took to create a piece; and 3) the concept or idea of the artist because original pieces naturally cost more than mere replication of a photo reference.

The discussion on creative economy reminded me of my experience as a young girl facing a college application form. I had wanted to pursue art as a course, but the “wiser” adults around me discouraged me from doing so because there was no money nor a career in art. With that memory, I raised a question to Victor Secuya: “As a parent, how can I cultivate a love for art in my children?” His answer was direct to the point: “Art is not taught. It is caught! Parents, if you want your children to love art, you must expose them to art! Surround them with art! Display artworks at home. Go to galleries. Visit exhibits and museums.” He went on to explain that Italians naturally gravitate to art because everywhere they go there is a piece of art. It is commonplace for them to wake up to a ceiling filled with paintings or a wall with a mural. They step out of a room through an ornate doorframe. They go around town with everything that showcases artistic expression. They practically live and breathe art. Victor Secuya says, that is the only way a child can love art: live in the midst of it! 

A brave 11-year-old boy stood up and asked a very poignant question: “Sir, what if it is the parents who discourage the child from doing art? What must the child do?” The hall buzzed with side comments and you can tell by the look in their faces that many artists in the room could very well relate with the boy. Jokes were exchanged, memories of past struggles were shared. There was laughter amidst the discussion of a painful reality. “If you want to pursue art, you must also prove to your parents that you can survive and live as an artist. People naturally think there is no money in art,” Victor Secuya responded. Piguras artist and art educator Rey Bollozon shared, “You must decide what you want to do with your life and your art. I have taught many talented young artists and I felt a sense of loss because they chose not to pursue art. They decided to take a different career after their studies precisely because they think there is no money in art. At the end of the day, you must decide and stand by your decision.” Other artists in the audience stood to share their personal experience of how their parents discouraged them from pursuing their passion, took a different course in university, and managed to return to art but with an entrepreneurial mindset and skillset to back them up. They explained to the boy and to everyone in the room how creativity can always be channeled and how it is simply a matter of turning life’s circumstances around and make them work to your advantage.

I came away from the weekend having a deeper sense of community and camaraderie. The Art Hunt gave people easy access to the world of art, which the common tao usually thinks of as too high for their lifestyle or too distant from their reality. Artists were gathered in one place, recognized for who they are and the contribution they make in society. Paintings, artworks, and crafts were sold to collectors, parents who bought for their kids, and the average person who came because of social media influence. Families trooped to the Art Hunt exposing their children to creativity as they visited each booth, interacted with different kinds of people, and watched live performances. Art educators taught outside of the classroom. Students learned to think out of the box and had the opportunity to make art for themselves. Free performances were rendered in a space where dance, singing, and drum beating were seen as essential parts of life. Filipino-made art films had the opportunity to be shown, discussed and appreciated. Most of all, children were allowed to be children—curious, playful, honest, inquisitive, imaginative, creative—which is enough impetus for them to be both artistic and entrepreneurial.