(SPOT.ph) Traffic in Metro Manila has become a big factor for business-owners when it comes to setting up shop. For gallery owner Tina Fernandez, it was the great divide that is the Pasig River that pushed her to officially open Art Informal Makati at The Alley at Karrivin on February 15.
"It's funny because a lot of people from Makati don't even know where Art Informal is in Greenhills—simply because they just refuse to cross the Pasig River," she says in an interview with SPOT.ph. The first gallery in Greenhills was established in 2006, and it has always been the “locus of the Filipino art public where collaborations between artists, curators, managers and collectors form the basis of its many events and exhibitions.”
It was important for Fernandez to "involve the Makati audience" and show them a different set of artists that they may not have seen on this side of the Metro. "If Muhammad can't go to the mountain, then the mountain will go to Muhammad," she enthuses. As was the case at the Greenhills gallery, Art Informal Makati hosts three solo shows by hand-picked artists. The original gallery now holds bigger group shows. "We wanted the shows in Greenhills to be strong and interesting enough so that people who live far away would come," she adds.
Slow Painting by Brisa Amir
Press and Float by Christina Dy
A Corner of Nature Seen Through a Temperament by Tosha Albor
But this isn't her first foray in the art scene in Makati. In 2016, she opened Aphro—a concept store that sells functional art—also at The Alley at Karrivin. "My landlord, Mara Coson, wanted to transform this building into an art hub, a space that could be unlike any other. She chose the different galleries and other establishments that could bring a whole community together," Fernandez explains. She got her initial taste of Makati's art crowd, and it was then that she decided that Art Informal's next branch would also be within the complex.
A year later, a space became available. "Of course, I was ecstatic. But it was too soon for me because I had just opened my store. I wasn't prepared to do another round of months and months of construction. But I had to take it, otherwise she'll give it to someone else." And the rest, as they say is history.
Jagnus Design Studio, the group that also designed Aphro, stepped in and transformed what used to be a dance studio and recruitment agency into an art gallery. The only directive was: "The star should be the artwork, and not the design [of the space]." The two-storey area became a three-room gallery with an office on the first floor and a lounge on the second floor. White-splashed walls dominate the spaces, except for the reused floor-to-ceiling mirrors that jazzed up the place and infused a more approachable atmosphere. The original staircase on the corner was closed for public use, and a new one was built at the center of the second floor's large and bare room. The result? "The design is still distinct without overshadowing the artwork."
Bringing Art Informal to Makati is a dream come true for Fernandez. "I will be missing a lot of opportunity to show the art collection if I don't move to Makati," she finally says. With Art Informal Greenhills' reputation for showcasing some of the best in Philippine contemporary art, it's only a matter of time before even the crowd from the north would cross the river just to check out what the new Art Informal in Makati has to offer.