America Ain’t That Sweet for Hannah Pettyjohn and Small Wonders at Mag:net Ayala

Hannah Pettyjohn, "DFW RIP (Urban Sprawl) and "American Mary"

Hannah Pettyjohn, "DFW RIP (Urban Sprawl)" and "American Mary"


A little more than two years ago, half- American Hannah Pettyjohn spent time in Texas to reconnect with her roots. While there, she worked at a geotechnical engineering lab, lived in a white house that looked exactly like all the other houses in the neighborhood, got to know her father’s family, and read David Foster Wallace.

In this exhibit, Hannah

Hannah Pettyjohn, "JCD", "JTP", and "HCP"

Hannah Pettyjohn, "JCD", "JTP", and "HCP"

channels the isolation she felt as a temporary transplant into middle America. She portrays her subjects donning surgical masks similar to those she herself had to wear at her job, and then declines to call them by their names. She refers to them simply by their initials. The masks, because of what remains concealed, create barriers that discourage any chances of  real intimacy or empathy between us, the viewers, and these nameless subjects. They remain distant and aloof from us, just as they remained virtual strangers to Hannah, and she to them.

Around the exhibit, Hannah has scattered cast plaster replicas of the houses in her Dallas neighborhood, each one mirror images of each other.  She recreates the tedium and repetition so typical of a soulless suburban panorama. She even records landscape from behind car windows, once again imposing a gulf, an invisible gap that keeps her, and us, at a distance.

American Sweet by Hannah Pettyjohn can be viewed from 6 May to 6 June at SLab, 2f YMC Bldg., 2320 Chino Roces Ave. Extension, Makati City. Ph: (632)816-0044 or visit


Mac Valdezco, from her Invisible Pilot series

Mac Valdezco, from her Invisible Pilot series

Ikoy Riccio, "Sheep"

Ikoy Riccio, "Sheep"

Here comes a show so aptly titled for the dimensions of both the pieces on display and the size of the gallery. Mag:net’s branch at The Columns in Ayala Avenue barely holds ten people at once in its narrow expanse, yet has somehow

Yasmin Sison Ching, "Crochet Experiment 2"

Yasmin Sison Ching, "Crochet Experiment 2"

managed to host some pretty interesting shows. This one, conceptualized by husband and wife, artists Yasmin and Mariano Ching, fits the venue perfectly. They wanted to showcase deliberately minute works evident for their handcrafted quality. All nine artists deliver delightful miniature extensions of past bodies of work. I love Mac Valdezco’s shoes from clingwrap, her current medium of choice. Yasmin Ching’s piece continues her experiments with producing soft sculpture from yarns she crochets herself, first seen in her piece for the Surrounded By Water group show at Blanc Compound. Other standouts for me include Ikoy Riccio’s sheep sculpture from paper clips and Mike Munoz’s lightbox.

Mike Munoz, "IXOYE(Fish)"

Mike Munoz, "IXOYE(Fish)"

I hate to resort to the cliche small but terrible, but really, that’s what this show is all about: small works that have been made so well that they can give some of the humongous wall-bound stuff currently on view in other galleries a run for their money (and that’s another cliche!).

Bea Camacho, "Gloves", limited edition photograph

Bea Camacho, "Gloves", limited edition photograph

Shoebox Dioramas, group show of Bea Camacho, Eugene Jarque, Hitoshi Kanamura, Ikoy Riccio, Jordin Isip, Mac Valdezco, Mariano Ching, Mike Munoz, Yasmin Sison, is up from 6 May to 1 June at Mag:net at The Columns in Ayala Avenue. Ph (632)929-3191 or visit

Mariano Ching, "(Unknown Pleasure)"

Mariano Ching, "(Unknown Pleasure)"

Eugene Jarque, "Color Handbook of Garden Insects"

Eugene Jarque, "Color Handbook of Garden Insects"

Jordin Isip, part of Head 1, 2, 3, 4

Jordin Isip, part of Head 1, 2, 3, 4

6 Responses to America Ain’t That Sweet for Hannah Pettyjohn and Small Wonders at Mag:net Ayala

  1. cris says:

    Don’t hold yourself ManilaArtBlogger. Cliche away! And if you don’t mind me using one here as well, ‘don’t knock it till you’ve tried it’. That’s sums up my attitude towards conceptual art. I have lived in the west long enough to appreciate conceptual art. And, I’m happy to say, that most Filipinos are not dismissive of it either. Good on you, my countrymen, for being forward thinkers! BUT, I must say, that I would find it hard to dig into my pocket for one. Call me old-fashioned but I still like the old canvas and paint combo. Before I came back to the Philippines, realism in the west seems to be experiencing a bit of a renaissance. Suddenly, no one’s afraid to show talent and skill. Suddenly, no one’s afraid to be beautiful. But this time its realism with a twist. Very much like what Ronald Ventura and Geraldine Javier has been doing. Which probably explains why those two are so popular in the auction circuits. I guess, what I’m saying is, I might come to the Mag:net Ayala show to check it out. But that just it. I’ll come check it out, but nothing more.

    I just got the latest issue of the Contemporary Art Phils magazine with a Rodel Tapaya piece on the cover(c’mon Rodel, I want a painting already). I’m lovin every single page of it. Haven’t read it all though. Magazine only comes out every couple of months so I’m trying to savour it. I found a very exciting piece of news in there about ManilArt’09. Finally, Manila has its own international art fair! Woohoo, I’m giddy with excitement. I’m already so happy to find out about Art in the Park, which would be our equivalent of the Affordable Arts Fair, and now this. By the way, ManilaArtBlogger, if you’re part of the Museum Foundation of the Phils, please promise us that you’ll make the November event happen. Last March was my first visit to the event. I only came an hour late for the event’s official opening and I already missed out on a lot of good things. I came home emptyhanded, I was so upset. I promised myself that next time I’ll be up at the crack of dawn or pitch a tent in the park the night before if I have to. I won’t miss anything this time round. Going back to the ManilArt’09, I suppose, we shouldn’t expect too much too soon. Afterall, its Manila’s first attempt and we have to start somewhere. It’ll certainly be no Frieze but, based on the local participating galleries alone, it’ll be a treat. Now, how do I get myself invited to the by-invite-only opening night, I wonder?

  2. just saw your blog by chance. nice! ive bookmarked it so i can check it out again in the future. when you have time pls see my site and let me know what you think🙂

  3. Jojo Fabricante says:

    “(Unknown Pleasure)” by Mariano Ching — though inspired by the simplest of shapes– seemed to me– the most complex composition to conceptualize. Comparing it with the other creations, this work moved me most by its honesty and straightforwardness. In fact, I think I recall looking at this work the longest.
    I wonder if perhaps the “pleasure” referred to is the pleasure in knowing that beauty–if we want to find it– is with us all the time. Since if we think about it, all we see can actually be stripped down to squares, circles, triangles, etc.
    Thus, true beauty, is pure… basic… elemental.


    But…”Gloves” by Bea Camacho… is the masterpiece that made me smile.

    At first, admittedly, the seemingly Surrealist creation stopped me. Conflicting emotions flooded my psyche, and for some time, I was speechless.

    On what it means… I wonder if the artwork represents our inherent desire to reach out and forge new friendships. But that sometimes, we have to reach out –not just by extending our arms– but even by extending our fingers –symbolically –as an extra gesture that our invitation is sincere and true. And by doing so in the context of humor, we lower our defenses and open the gate.
    And maybe… we are invited to see a world …where possibilities are endless and never limited… by physics nor by anatomy.

    • to jojo fabricante : duh?! unknown pleasure is just the name of the joy division album that mariano just made a knitted reproduction of.or wasn’t it that so obvious for you? mariano is just a music junkie who just likes to make homages of the bands he likes to listen to and that’s all there is to it.

      and you’re quite dramatic with your reactions towards works but i’ll give you that if that’s the only “unknown pleasure” you’ll ever have when seeing objects in a gallery.

  4. cris : you’re one of those type of collectors who are contributing to the homogenization of the art scene by being conservative with your taste. but maybe im just barking up the wrong tree? but what can i do if you persist on being conservative with your taste since hell yeah how do you collect conceptual art anyway? or should conceptual artists just virtually feed themselves mere concepts and die by real starvation? or eat paint out of unsold paintings?

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