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At Large

Art, peace and good food

Joy Rojas wasn’t kidding when he promised, while inviting us to view his second exhibit at Pinto Art Museum, that we would also love the food. Well, the food we partook of almost stole the limelight from Joy’s paintings, that’s how good it was.

We were kind of in a hurry because we — including friend from college Sister Gina Kuizon, RGS — took an early leave from the jubilee celebrations of the Good Shepherd sisters, and it would be our first time to visit Pinto, even if I had heard about it years ago.

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Even if we had consulted Google maps, we were still apprehensive as there was just a small wooden sign at the corner of the lane leading out of the main highway to tell us we were on the right path. But most everyone we asked seemed to know where Pinto was, pointing straight down and instructing us to go past the village gate of Grand Heights Subdivision, where we had to fork out P20 as “road user’s fee.”

Upon being let through at the compound’s gate, we were directed to go down some steps to Café Rizal, nestled among a group of mission-style structures tucked into the various levels and nooks and crannies of Pinto’s rolling terrain. There we found our companions — the “core group” of the Bulong Pulungan with Joy presiding.

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He was absolutely right. We did love the food — pochero of fork-tender beef and vegetables, adobo in a tangy reddish sauce, and excellent thin-crust pizza which Joy insisted we try. Then he suggested the halo-halo, along with pastries: molten lava cake topped with a scoop of ice cream, mango cheesecake, and custard-topped chiffon.

Joining us was Pinto’s owner and patron, Dr. Joven Cuanang who conceptualized Pinto (Filipino for “door”) to house his huge collection of modern artwork by Filipinos. Aside from Café Rizal and the galleries that are scattered throughout the greenery of the 1.3-hectare property, one can also find a small chapel, a mini museum of indigenous art, a museum store, a planned carillon tower and the newly opened Pinto Academy for Arts and Sciences for Healing and Wholeness, which incorporates Dr. Cuanang’s central advocacies of art and health.

Joy’s exhibit, “Material Maker,” is a collection of large abstract works in acrylic many of which bear the names of race horses, some of them he owns, while others are renowned steeds that a Filipino horse-lover fondly remembers.

Oddly enough, one can’t find any horses in these works, except perhaps for subtle references in some. The only “horsey” features are in two paintings with horseshoes, some of which were actually used on the racetrack, says Joy.

Still, “Material Maker” has been a huge hit like Joy’s first exhibit, “Strong Material.” Out of 35 paintings on display, 31 have been sold, testifying to the appeal of these works that use textures, sheen and rich colors to “speak” to the heart as well as the eye.

But Pinto also offers the works of other artists on its grounds, astonishing in their variety, material, depth of expression and sheer number, exceeding a thousand.

It was in 2000 when the idea of Pinto was conceived by Dr. Cuanang and his artist-friends. They decided to devote the property to a place where Filipino artists could display the full range of their works and accommodate the art-loving public.

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Dr. Cuanang commissioned his artist-friend Tony Leaño, whose lone previous project was his family home, to design the structures and the layout of the space.

“I had only two requirements,” the former medical director of St. Luke’s shares. “One was that the structures should be ‘mission style,’ (a mélange of Spanish, Mexican and Californian design) since we live in a tropical country. The other was to respect nature, with explicit instructions not to cut down any trees.”

The result is a cohesive gathering of quaint buildings and landscapes that follow the natural flow of the terrain, brightened by flower beds and shady trees. Here and there are scattered vintage beds, “because we have senior visitors who might need to sit and rest a bit,” says Dr. Cuanang. Restful for the spirit and the senses, Pinto is a door to meditation, art and beauty.

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TAGS: At Large, Joven Cuanang, Joy Rojas, Material Maker, Pinto Art Museum, Rina Jimenez-David
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