2015 Series/Volume


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Uploaded March 04, 2015

THOSE GOLLIWOGS CALLED GALLERISTS (a diskurso interview-with-gallerists series)


 

Mainstream? What Mainstream?
An Interview with Kitten Chanco

 

text by Jojo Soria de Veyra
interviews by the diskurso core team
camera by Simkin de Pio

 


 

In this first edition of our Those Golliwogs Called Gallerists section, our diskurso core team, including myself, Marcel Antonio, and Simkin de Pio, chat with the director of a gallery network's interesting university campus branch, agog to know the secret behind the gallery branch's ability to survive all these past 25 years, amidst all these auctions and major gallery art fairs happening all over town and hogging the limelight - See more at: file:///F:/DISKURSO/VOL%2001/VOL%2001%20ISSUE%2002/Mainstream%20%20What%20Mainstream%20%20--%20An%20Interview%20with%20Kitten%20Chanco%20-%20diskurso%20%20filipino%20art%20magazine%20online.html#sthash.11Mffwwk.dpuf
In this first edition of our Those Golliwogs Called Gallerists section, our diskurso core team, including myself, Marcel Antonio, and Simkin de Pio, chat with the director of a gallery network's interesting university campus branch, agog to know the secret behind the gallery branch's ability to survive all these past 25 years, amidst all these auctions and major gallery art fairs happening all over town and hogging the limelight - See more at: file:///F:/DISKURSO/VOL%2001/VOL%2001%20ISSUE%2002/Mainstream%20%20What%20Mainstream%20%20--%20An%20Interview%20with%20Kitten%20Chanco%20-%20diskurso%20%20filipino%20art%20magazine%20online.html#sthash.11Mffwwk.dpuf
In this first edition of our Those Golliwogs Called Gallerists section, our diskurso core team, including myself, Marcel Antonio, and Simkin de Pio, chat with the director of a gallery network's interesting university campus branch, agog to know the secret behind the gallery branch's ability to survive all these past 25 years, amidst all these auctions and major gallery art fairs happening all over town and hogging the limelight - See more at: file:///F:/DISKURSO/VOL%2001/VOL%2001%20ISSUE%2002/Mainstream%20%20What%20Mainstream%20%20--%20An%20Interview%20with%20Kitten%20Chanco%20-%20diskurso%20%20filipino%20art%20magazine%20online.html#sthash.11Mffwwk.dpuf

In this first edition of our Those Golliwogs Called Gallerists section, our diskurso core team, including myself, Marcel Antonio, and Simkin de Pio, chatted with the director of a gallery network's interesting university campus branch, agog to know the secret behind the gallery branch's ability to survive all these past 25 years, amidst all these auctions and major gallery art fairs happening all over town and hogging the limelight

 

 

 

THAT February 20 afternoon, I, diskurso managing editor Simkin de Pio, and diskurso publisher Marcel Antonio, decided before splitting up to have coffee  at the University of the Philippines Diliman campus, and where else better to do that at that campus than at the Art Circle Cafe at the UP Bahay ng Alumni where one could choose between Sagada or Kalinga or some other highland coffee served in a French press?
     The cafe is also a gallery, in case you don't know, as I did not at first, and I learned later that it is actually part of a network of nine other Art Circle galleries that, turns out, was formed by the legacy of the old Heritage Art Center in Cubao that was burned down to the ground in 2012. My college buddy Marcel Antonio and I used to hang out at that gallery back in our college days at UP Fine Arts, and it's been a long time since I've been back talking about facts and figures in the Philippine art industry, so I thought it would be interesting to know where the Heritage legacy is now. And although I learned later that a new Heritage Art Center has its own network under new management now, an offshoot Art Circle Gallery chain went its separate way from that system, albeit still carrying on the same Heritage tradition.
     The Art Circle campus branch's being a gallery first piqued my interest during a previous diskurso interview with a budding poet at the cafe's outdoor area. Before that interview started, the cafe's female manager approached diskurso's very own Marcel Antonio, who seemed to be a longtime friend of hers, to verbally invite our painter-publisher to the gallery's oncoming 25th anniversary party. When this manager, whom Marcel addressed as Kitten, left our table, I asked our publisher, after walking inside to scan the place: "This cafe is actually also a gallery? A commercial gallery on campus? How did it manage to survive for 25 years? How much does the UP government rent a space like this for?"
     So we set an interview with Kitten (Chanco), but the scheduled one didn't push through due to some other diskurso engagement. We told Kitten we'd look for some later date to hold the interview, and she agreed. For a week or two, though, we put aside the interview plan in favor of some other coverage, and on that late February 20 afternoon we only went to Kitten's cafe just to have coffee.
     But, since Simkin had his camera with him, Marcel thought: "if Kitten is still at the shop and won't be going yet, we could actually do the interview now if she agrees!"
     And she was. And she did. And the following was the interview that happened with Ms. Chanco, accompanied by Marcel Antonio sitting beside her as both supportive friend and merciless diskurso interviewer. Here we go:

 


"Others naman buy merely for esthetics. 'Bagay ba 'to sa bahay ko?' . . ."


 


PART 1 OF 6: A BACKING FOR SMALL ACQUISITIONS

In the following first clip, Ms. Chanco talks about the price range of her gallery's art pieces, the broad roster of artist types their gallery network represents, the various clientele types the gallery network caters to, her own gallery's efforts to educate potential clients, how the Art Circle network market-positions each branch, the primary type of art and market taste her own branch caters to, that other branch where the Art Circle network concentrates its abstract art hoard, her impressions on the richness of talent out there, her lamentations over the downfall of some of her talents (and clients), and her system of not only educating small potential clients but facilitating for them as well a way by which they could afford to acquire works of art.

(video clip up for transfer to another YouTube channel from our closed old YouTube channel)
"It's very rich now. Kasi ang dami, e."

PART 2 OF 6: ALMOST AVOIDING CONSIGNORS

In this second clip, Kitten explains further the payment facilitation plan for affordable acquisition as revolutionized by her father-in-law, the late Atty. Mario Alcantara of Heritage House art gallery; the buy-and-sell policy of Art Circle and its advantages to both the gallery and the artist (especially the struggling artist); the gallery's standardized buying price from which a standard selling price is set for all the branches; the gallery's quasi-aversion to the fixed aesthetic taste owned by other galleries' market positioning; her view of the role of the gallery as medium instead of as tastemaker; Art Circle's role as client-caterer, less as artist-indulger; but also Art Circle's being more for the gallery look, as against the old Heritage Art Center's more earthly bodega look.

(video clip up for transfer to another YouTube channel from our closed old YouTube channel)
"The risk falls on the gallery owner because we purchase the work from the artist outright."

PART 3 OF 6: FROM BAHAY NG ALUMNI TO BUYING AN OLD HOUSE

Here, Kitten talks about her late mom-in-law, the environmentalist and mean chess player Odette Alcantara; her ambitions for her own branch of the gallery network within this year or the next; the rental rate at the UP Bahay ng Alumni; her aversion to the mall; her affection for the campus atmosphere and favorite clients; how Art Circle made art acquisition/investing/collecting an affordable game even for low-wage-earning state university professors; and her absence of qualms toward "mere art investing".

(video clip up for transfer to another YouTube channel from our closed old YouTube channel)
"As it is now, here, in U.P., we're content."

PART 4 OF 6: OFFLOADED CARGO

In the following clip, Kitten lets us in on: a Juan Luna painting deal she got to handle, collectors offloading and wanting to cash in on their investment, her branch's profit performance, her views on "trampy" or "baduy" art and the relative aesthetic value of everything, and what she does when she encounters a piece she loves so much.

(video clip up for transfer to another YouTube channel from our closed old YouTube channel)
"We appraise it do'n sa current value niya."

PART 5 OF 6: WHAT LASTS

In the following fifth clip, meanwhile, Kitten continues to tell us what she does when she falls in love with a particular work, about the people she's not so eager to sell to, Professor S.V. Epistola's being instrumental in the gallery's old every-December art sale, the humidity in her gallery and what happens to watercolor works, her ultimate satisfaction as a gallerist, the art in her gallery as the sort that her market could truly relate to, and where most of her artists are from.

(video clip up for transfer to another YouTube channel from our closed old YouTube channel)
"Ang tagal ko na rito. 1996?"

PART 6 OF 6: ALL THINGS PERSONAL

In this last clip of our interview, we and Kitten talk about the old names of the place, the cafe part of the place, the old Manansala Cafe, Simkin's mom and Gig de Pio, Kitty's friend's online/virtual gallery called Art Tempo Manila, Art Circle's online transactions' being limited to clients abroad, clients who've returned artworks, how she hates handling commissioned works, her only fire insurance, the 2012 fire that razed Heritage gallery to the ground, Marcel Antonio's engineering student of a daughter, and the auctions phenomenon. [d]

(video clip up for transfer to another YouTube channel from our closed old YouTube channel)
"Very seldom nangyayari yun, yung ipapadaan namin sa Paypal; mostly kasi mas maganda mag-handle ng personal."



 

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Jojo Soria de Veyra is the editor of diskurso. Marcel Antonio is a painter and the publisher of diskurso. Simkin de Pio is a painter and the managing editor of diskurso.

Text and photos copyright 2015 diskurso art magazine online. All rights reserved.

 

 

 


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diskurso is an independent, Philippines-based online magazine on art aiming to veer away from a present mental landscape replete with the customary peacock and weasel words that continue to service the art industry.