There is a fine line between welcoming change and succumbing to the inevitable. The latter reeks of despair, while the former looks on life with a renewed sense of hope. For those who deal in the beautiful, there is only one way to move forward into the so-called “new normal,” and it is to embrace change with a view to innovate and thrive. Art, after all, is everybody’s business.  

‘Art and nature heal’

Joven Cuanang, Pinto Museum 

Joven Cuanang

Joven Cuanang (Photo: Erwin LeaƱo)

We are preparing for the lifting of the lockdown by maintaining the galleries and gardens. We have art exhibits scheduled for the next year and a half, and we certainly will pursue these exhibits. We talk to the artists and encourage them to be productive during these times when they are also quarantined. Some have welcomed the seclusion and have been quite busy. 

The platform of Pinto has always been that art and nature heal. More so now that with the more than two months of seclusion, visits to museums and gardens should help in alleviating the anxiety, boredom, depression, and other mental issues resulting from this unprecedented pandemic. Artists are essential to society. Through their artworks, they depict the human condition in a powerful way. They must not despair, instead they should bring hope. Like doctors and other healthcare workers, they are integral to the healing of our community.

‘Art is a reflection of society’

Jack Teotico, Gallery Joaquin

Jack Teotico

Jack Teotico

The art industry will have to do its part in practicing social distancing and ensuring safety to its clientele. So, online, online, online. There will be a big move to online activities.

Art is a reflection of society. One of the most important ways artists can help is to have their artworks mirror what is happening. Art can inspire society to pick itself up and face the future with more courage and hope. I understand Art+ magazine is planning a major online show titled ‘A Brave New World,’ featuring top artists to exhibit their works about Covid and also put this in what promises to be historic book. This will definitely help society understand how its artists feel about the current situation. Some artists will probably even present optimistic works about the future. Perhaps an entire movement could even be born out of the Covid pandemic. A lot of angst and expressionist art came out because of trauma of war(s). The heyday of the 1920 ushered in a new art movement. So why not a new art movement due to Covid?

Art will never lose its value. The world has gone through various great wars (World War I and II), big pandemics like the Spanish flu, HIV, Sars, and Ebola, and even then art has continued to be important. So let’s remember to look forward to a brighter tomorrow once we hurdle this present difficulty.

‘Art is a great unifier’

Jaime Ponce De Leon, Leon Gallery 

Jaime Ponce De Leon

Jaime Ponce De Leon

I think life goes on and this will always be referred to as a milestone in history, in the same way we refer to 9/11, WWII, the crash of 1929, and so on. There will be innovations, modifications, and evolutions in how art is exhibited and sold but the essence should remain the same. But it will be interesting to see how museums, art fairs, and galleries will evolve post-Covid, in the absence of a vaccine. In the absence of subsidy, self-sufficiency among art institutions will be in peril. 

Art is a great unifier and even today art has been instrumental in raising funds for our frontliners.

This pandemic is affecting everyone in the world today. No exemptions. We must persevere to weather this storm and we will all be stronger after this.

‘The arts make us truly alive’

Richie Lerma, Salcedo Auctions 

Richie Lerma

Richie Lerma

I think that the approaches being taken by dealers of fine art across the world are converging. The online art world is slowly but certainly becoming the norm in these unprecedented times. It is the way in which an institution such as Salcedo Auctions—along with its subsidiaries Gavel&Block and Salcedo Private View—adapts the virtual viewing room and shapes this new venue as its own, which ultimately differentiates us.

I have always believed that the arts fulfill society’s most essential role. Food, clothing, and shelter allow us to survive as a species, but it is the arts that make us truly alive and make us human. As the industry pioneer, I know that many are looking to Salcedo Auctions for guidance and inspiration as we navigate this new reality we all find ourselves in. This year, Salcedo and its subsidiaries commemorate a decade of redefining legacy and giving back through its auctions and exhibitions, recognizing the unique ability of art to gather people together to support others. We take pride in the fact that charity has been in our DNA from the very beginning, and that it presents a framework in which the business of luxury can continue to have an important role in society.

‘Apart yet together’ resonates in these unprecedented times. I would strongly encourage artists to understand their unique role as catalysts for transformation and rejuvenation as we all come together to build and strengthen the notion of an arts community as #WeBidasOne and rally around the idea of #BiddingStrong for our country.

‘The worst of times can make the best arts’ 

Derek Flores, DF Art Agency 

Derek Flores

Derek Flores

I think that art events—art fairs, museums, and exhibits—will have to be suspended for everyone’s safety. Galleries, in particular, can explore more innovative ways by using digital platforms as a means to market the artworks. Migration to virtual exhibits and viewing by appointment can be used as options.

Apart from managing foot traffic when museums and galleries do open, the greatest challenges for the industry post-Covid is regaining the experiential component of art and navigating the reality of having less income. Generally, it is projected that galleries will experience a downtrend in art sales since collectors are wary of the uncertainties. Artists should expect collectors to buy less artworks because they are prioritizing the purchase of essential goods. But art will continue to inspire and bring a sense of unity and hope. The arts can play a role in inspiring people to get back up on their feet, rebuild what has been destroyed during the pandemic, and take on the challenges of facing the ‘new normal.’

I encourage our artists to continue to create and be beacons of hope. Although difficult, we should face these times with optimism and a strong desire to recover as it is the only way we can overcome the fear of the unknown. There is always a lesson to be learned even in the most trying moments, and we must use these lessons to be a better version of ourselves and inspire people around us. Although art acquisition may experience a downturn, artists should not be discouraged. This situation will pass. Remember that the worst of times can always make the best arts.

‘Level up on virtual shows’

Charlie Co, Orange Project (Bacolod) 

Charlie Co

Charlie Co

I think it will take time for the art industry to adapt. Since no one knows when Covid will be over, I feel art institutions will do everything gradually. For us in the province, for example, logistics will be a problem if we hold exhibitions by artists based outside of Negros. Upgrading of virtual exhibitions might become the new trend. Art collectors as well will have to learn how to rely and trust their gut feel when buying artworks virtually, especially if they won’t be able to see the actual pieces. They are, after all, a part of the system.

We here in Bacolod, we raised funds to help, not just the artists but the community around us as well. Orange Project has had five waves of what we call ‘ArtHeals.’ Not all artists earn good money from art, so they were my first priority, and then the employees around Art District. I believe we needed to support artists first before they could help others. With the help of my artist friends RA Tijing and Barry CervantesAngela SilvaKathryn BaynosaHR Campos, and art supporters, we were able to organize other artists to come up with ‘ArtHeals.’ We connected with a local NGO called Negros Volunteers for Change because of their wide network of resources and beneficiaries. We made relief food packs for artists and remote barangays, gave PPEs and food donations to frontliners. Very recently, the artists even raised funds to feed stray dogs and cats. It shows that artists have become civic minded and conscious in helping the community around them.

But after Covid, it is still a big question mark. I cannot really predict what will happen to the art market.

During quarantine, I can say the artists have created more personal works that are strong because of their experience. One thing is, for sure, we need to level up on virtual shows and showing our artworks online. I think this is the way to go. When all galleries, museums and artists go online, that will be another challenge: How to be noticed in the virtual world of the ‘new normal.’

‘Keep on creating’

Albert Avellana, Avellana Art Gallery 

Albert Avellana

Albert Avellana

I think the challenges are more for the galleries and museums as they have to control foot traffic in their spaces. Maybe viewing by appointment will help manage this. Sustain the interest in the arts of the collectors as this will benefit the artists. For the artists, they just have to continue doing their art. They have to document the images of now, for example. So, to artists, keep on creating, accept the challenges of the ‘new normal,’ and express them through your works.

‘Using creativity to adapt’

Paolo Martel, Finale Art File Auctions 

Paolo Martel

Paolo Martel

New ways will have to be explored as to how art can be exhibited. With social distancing in place, gone are the events and cocktail previews that collectors and artists look forward to attending. Technology will play a vital role in this industry.

For galleries and artists, buying patterns of collectors will significantly change. They say there is a correlation between the art market and the financial markets. Many will focus on the recovery of their businesses and therefore art purchases may be a second priority.

For museums, they will see much less foot traffic due to the impact of the tourism industry. Exhibits may also be more costly to mount due to logistics constraints. Travel restrictions will also be a challenge.

With all the negative and depressing news, I believe art will play a role in creating positivity. Art has the power to inspire people and communities in our daily lives. Even during this quarantine people have turned to arts and crafts, music, film, and workshops as a coping mechanism.

I think these times can show artists a new perspective on how things are approached and that can translate to the art they produce. New platforms may also be used to showcase their work to a much wider collector base. There will be both positive and negative changes, and it’s just a matter of using creativity to adapt.

Source: Manila Bulletin (