I’ve always wanted an excuse to head north and scope out Ronac Art Center. I came across a feature on its architecture and since then, have been intrigued. How often do we find a private structure built specifically for art in Metro Manila,
one that has even merited the attention of the home and design glossies? So when I heard that a gallery had been inaugurated in the premises, I made sure to make time to check it out.
I decided to stop by right before lunch one morning, not realizing that the center did not open until 2:00 pm. Luckily, the building’s guards took pity on my patent disappointment and allowed me a peek into Secret Fresh, the gallery at the building’s second floor.
The gallery is actually an annex to the store in the main floor that retails vinyl toys and other collectibles. I got the impression that the store even carries special edition toys designed by local artists, their take on this subculture that has invested toys with the status of must-have items. Artist Lena Cobangbang manages the gallery and curated its first exhibit.
The show put together a selection of established and emerging artists who share the lowbrow and street art leanings of Secret Fresh. Reg Yuson’s brightly-colored R. Muck pieces from West Gallery fit right in, as did Robert Langenegger’s lightboxes from a recent Finale exhibit, and Romeo Lee’s small works on canvas. I also liked Neil Arvin Javier’s collage and Dex Fernandez’s tiny Garapata drawings.
The pieces that really caught my attention were an assortment displayed on a pedestal called Paley Pils Toys. Artists customized beer bottle casts as part of a series. I found Mariano Ching’s totem pole-inspired pyrographed version pretty good.
Overall, the show reflected the hip, up-to-the-minute vibe of the RONAC Art Center. Secret Fresh the gallery seems to be riding this wave of urban art turned mainstream. How they translate this into exciting art exhibits should prove interesting to watch.
The Secret Is Out! Secret Fresh Gallery Inaugural runs from 26 February to 21 March 2011 at Ronac Art Center, Ortigas Avenue near Santolan, San Juan. For more information, visit http://www.freshmanila.blogspot.com
Participating artists are Alien, Bjorn Calleja, Christian Tamondong, Dexter Fernandez, Egg Fiasco, Epjey Pacheco, Exld, JP Cuison, Nemo Aguila, Reg Yuson, Romeo Lee, Tin Garcia,Tripp 63, Whoop, Allan Balisi, Cos Zicarelli, Dave Lock, Dina Gadia, Ernest Concepcion, Ferdz Valencia, Gail Vicente, Jigger Cruz, Marie Jeona, Marija Vicente, Pauolo Vinluan, Pow Martinez, Robert Langenegger, Tatong Rechecta Torres, and Vic Balanon
Custom Paley Pils by Bjorn Calleja, Boy Agimat, Dina Gadia, MM Yu, Mariano Ching, Romeo Lee, and Wesley Valenzuela