The Inbox

A refreshing art space in Laguna

Text and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files

Nineveh Artspace, the first and only art gallery in the capital town of Santa Cruz, Laguna, and the biggest in the province, comes as a breath of fresh air for the Manila-based visitor, especially on exhibition opening day. There is none of that cocktail-party artifice where one tries valiantly to view the works while maintaining a decent conversation and balancing a small plate of finger food on one hand.

At Nineveh, expect a mini barrio fiesta with similar performances from local choirs or dance troupes to keep the familiarity levels up. Food unique to Laguna is served like kalamay sa talulo, especially made in the town of Cavinti, mo-le (actually deep-fried balls of banana heart), akin to kare-kare and ordered from Pila native Joe Lat, vegetable dishes and miki-bihon pancit.

These touches reflect the down-to-earth personality of Louie Sevilla, the moving force  behind the art space. Apart from teaching Philippine history, art appreciation and the Rizal course at St. Peter's College Seminary in San Pablo City, he writes and directs plays, the most significant of which are variations of the senakulo (plays on the passion and death of Jesus Christ).

He opened his home and made it part of the country's gallery circuit "at a time when I was collecting artworks like mad and wanted to share this passion with others," he says.

In bringing art to his residence, Sevilla says his friends tell him "it's a joy to visit it every now and then because there's something different each time."

He was partly inspired by Totong Francisco's The Second Gallery in Angono, Rizal, who turned his garage into a display area, by a sampling of what gallery work is like when a set of paintings was loaned to him for a move-over show and by an opportunity to exhibit 13 Artist awardee Noel Soler Cuizon's new works.

The Cuizon show did it for Sevilla. By November 2003, Nineveh, a biblical name to mean both "root" and "dwelling," opened its first solo and has since built up a track record of putting up at least seven simultaneous shows three to four times a year, or 21 shows yearly.

What sets Nineveh apart from other galleries in the country is the volume and variety of works, its big backroom and a nature space that is home to a number of plants and animals.

Sevilla says: "While we do have some artists who, by regularly exhibiting with us, have become identified with us, we don't opt for exclusivity. We have encouraged many young artists to exhibit here, with some having their first solo here."

The place has seven exhibition spaces with sizes suitable for a modest solo show to a bigger space for group shows.  Sevilla says: "If we were to accommodate two outdoor shows for outdoor sculptures, for instance, and allot one gallery space for two exhibits, there would be room for 10 simultaneous shows!"

He chooses exhibiting artists whose works he appreciates and feels should be recognized by a wider audience. He examines works for the excellence in craftsmanship and the idea or philosophy being put across by the artist.

Sevilla quotes a departed friend, Bobi Valenzuela, who once said: "If a work moves you, then it's good."

This year, he upped the ante by also setting aside a room for the works of 13 Artists awardees, explaining, "While Nineveh would like to encourage young unknown artists, we need to show the works of recognized artists because these are what draw art aficionados to patronize the gallery. Moreover, exhibitions featuring the works of 13 Artists serve as models of excellence for beginning artists and the viewing public. Any one show has a mix of renowned and unknown artists. We invite students from elementary to collegiate levels to visit our exhibits to upgrade their knowledge of and taste in Filipino art."

Sevilla suggests these other spots to put in one's Laguna cultural itinerary good for a weekend: Pila, a heritage town that is a perfect example of the Spanish colonial setup and renowned for its preserved turn-of-the-century houses; Lumban for its barong; Paete for sculptures and paper mache; Pakil for its church and the Danilo Dalena museum; the liturgical museum in Liliw; and the Underground Cemetery in Nagcarlan.

With this entire month dubbed as "La Laguna," an arts and culture festival, it's a good time to head for south. Nineveh Artspace is at 2452 1st Avenue Villa Silangan Subdivision, Santa Cruz, Laguna.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ‘Taklub’ wins jury prize in Cannes
    ‘Taklub’ wins jury prize in Cannes

    The Yolanda-inspired film “Taklub” has won a special award at the Cannes Film Festival in France. The advocacy film, which had a successful premiere last Tuesday under the festival’s Un Certain Regard section, is directed by 2009 Cannes best director Brillante Mendoza and top-billed by Nora Aunor. The award cited the film’s sensitive portrayal of individuals and communities in the Philippines fighting to continue living despite natural disasters exposing them to suffering and death. …

  • Orphan tops chemical engineering board exam
    Orphan tops chemical engineering board exam

    A 21-year-old orphan from Capiz topped the chemical engineering board examinations held this month. Remington Salaya, a cum laude graduate of the Central Philippine University in Iloilo, ranked first in the board examinations with a score of 83.30 percent. Out of 405 chemical engineering graduates who took the exam in mid-May, 239 passed. …

  • A sunset party for APEC delegates
    A sunset party for APEC delegates

    Greeted by the beat of Ati-atihan drummers, delegates of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation trade ministers meeting enjoyed a welcome dinner and cultural presentation at sunset yesterday. Dubbed FuntaSea, Shangri-La Boracay Resort and Spa’s Banyugan Beach was transformed into a fantasy island, complete with mermaids, fire dancers, and choreographed paraws (sailboat) representing the best of Boracay. With APEC meetings being held all over the Philippines, each presentation is conceptualized …

  • UN chief urges peaceful solution of sea dispute
    UN chief urges peaceful solution of sea dispute

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Friday for a peaceful solution to territorial disputes in the South China Sea, where China’s increased assertiveness has alarmed its smaller neighbors. In Manila, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. appealed to China to respect various international agreements on freedom of navigation and aviation. Coloma’s call came in the wake of an incident Wednesday where Chinese naval forces warned a US …

  • Phl seeks transparency, inclusivity in Asean-China Center
    Phl seeks transparency, inclusivity in Asean-China Center

    Philippine Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Elizabeth Buensuceso has called on participants of the ASEAN-China Center (ACC) brainstorming session to vigorously work on promoting ASEAN-China relations under the principles of inclusivity, transparency and centrality. The brainstorming session, attended by the ACC’s joint council and joint executive board members, also involved a midterm review of ACC’s work since its establishment in 2011. The ACC aims to promote …

  • Lebanon tightens rules on HSW repatriation
    Lebanon tightens rules on HSW repatriation

    Distressed Filipino domestic helpers in Lebanon may find it more difficult to return home. The government of Lebanon has tightened the rules on repatriation of distressed household service workers (HSWs), Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz reported yesterday. Citing a report from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), Baldoz said the Lebanese government opted to re-impose a previous policy requiring investigation into every case of HSWs who ran away from their employers and sought …

  • Army execs face attrition over promotion quota
    Army execs face attrition over promotion quota

    Dozens of Philippine Army officials may be removed from the service due to a promotion quota system in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, according to AFP chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang. In a letter to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, he requested that the 30 percent promotion quota – which means that only 30 percent of those eligible for promotion in a given year will actually be promoted – in the Army be raised to 50 percent. Under the military’s attrition law, middle-grade officers …

  • Philippines backs support for small enterprises at APEC meet

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines' top trade official on Saturday called for support for the integration of micro, small and medium enterprises in global trade, which he said would help reduce poverty and inequality in the Asia-Pacific region. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options