Every year, CANVAS (Center for Art, New Ventures, and Sustainable Development) commissions a Filipino visual artist for a painting that will serve as the focal point for a children’s book competition. The Romeo Forbes Children’s Book Initiative calls for children’s stories woven around this commissioned piece. CANVAS publishes the winning manuscript as a full-color hardbound volume, fully illustrated by the selected visual artist. The artist renders the illustrations as full-sized paintings, presented to the public via an exhibit to coincide with the book’s launch. Since 2006, CANVAS has published ten books, beginning with The Rocking Horse, created by author Becky Bravo from a painting by Elmer Borlongan.
In 2008, Eline Santos submitted the competition’s winning entry, Doll Eyes, inspired by an untitled painting from Joy Mallari. At the third floor space of the UP Vargas Museum, the 23 paintings that have been incorporated into the book stand on display in an exhibit that takes its title from the book of the same name. Doll Eyes tells the story of a little girl and her search for her best friend in mystical Quiapo.
Joy has also included another piece not directly related to the story. At the center of the gallery, she has installed a reaction to the Vargas Museum’s collection of World War II- era photographs of children. To put together Waiting Rooms, she reproduced selected photos of little girls and manipulated them by adding acrylic and oil tints to the images. She then printed chapters from Alice In Wonderland onto her reproductions.
To coincide with Doll Eyes, and celebrate the publication of their tenth book, CANVAS has used the third floor lobby to mount a retrospective of paintings that they have used throughout the years. Aside from Emong’s piece, they have also displayed Rodel Tapaya’s Ang Batang Maraming Bawal, Jose John Santos’ Barrio Sirkero, and paintings from Romeo Forbes, Ivee Olivares-Mellor, Plet Bolipata, Anthony Palomo, Farley del Rosario, Liza Flores, Serj Bumatay and Roel Obemio.
I have always thought that CANVAS does a terrific job of making art accessible to a wider audience, especially to the children who read their books. Congratulations!
Doll Eyes and the CANVAS Retrospective runs from 10 December 2010 to 15 January 2011 at the Third Floor, Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center, Roxas Ave., UP Diliman, Quezon City. Phone (632)928-1927 or visit http://www.vargasmuseum.org