grub + travels + perspectives

Graffiti Hunt: Art BGC 2016

I have this slight fixation with street art. I don't recall how it started maybe a few years back, but somehow the fascination just continues to grow. I try to photograph as much street art/graffiti as I could when I'm in transit to and from work and whenever I happen to stumble upon one wherever I may be. 

Whenever I'm in Cavite, I usually see murals by BLIC and Lee Salvador, which then in turn led me to know about the existence of Cavity Collective, a group of graffiti artists that originated from Cavite (Cavity is, yes, a word play of the word Cavite). And then there's the Why graffiti all over C5, Pasig and even Makati. Did you know that this Why guy gives away shirts and art pieces for free? He would post a photo on his IG account of the place where he'd leave stuff, whoever gets there first, of course, gets it. Kind of like treasure hunting, which is fun!

So when I learned about Art BGC last year, I did a sort of graffiti hunt so I could photograph all the murals around High Street and I figured why not do it again this year, right?

Coincidentally, it was raining once again when I arrived at BGC. And if there was one thing that this activity further solidified, it was that I am really, unmistakably geographically challenged. Hahaha.

First up are Bunnie Reiss' works. The mural above can be found on the side of the restaurant, Mango Tree, along 7th Avenue. The first two words that came to mind when I saw Reiss' art were magical and cosmic. It's something I would love to have painted on the walls of my future home. Reiss is originally from Europe (Polish and Russian descent), raised in Colorado, and is now Los Angeles based.
Reiss' inspirations range from animals, folk art, and old woodcut illustrations, to magical symbols and the stars. "I want people to feel they have the right to look at beautiful things, to feel good—even for just a quick moment—when walking by one of my murals," she explains. "There’s a kind of freedom one gets from just letting it all go. I believe strongly that what I am doing is part of a larger 'job' and that getting up to create and release every day keeps a small part of this giant universe moving along like an inchworm. I keep things simple, so my work can continue to grow." (x)

Her second piece, called the Magic Owl, can be seen by the B1 parking lot. So how did she find Manila? In this interview with Spot, she said, "I love it. It's crazy hot but I love it. It's unlike any experience I've ever had. I painted in a lot of countries and it's really unique here." (Official site Instagram)

Manila-based artist Trip63 was the one responsible for this wall art called "Wallflowers," which can be found along Lane O, by B2 building in Bonifacio High Street. I loved this sprawling pop of hue on a building with muted colors. I read that Trip63 is actually a self taught artist (Galing!), who participated volunteered in the first ever Mural Festival, which then paved way for him to be given a spot in this year's. (Instagram)

Nate Frizzell is back for this year's mural fest! Last year, his murals of children with animals (tiger and bear) were one the most photographed pieces in BGC. This year, it was a little girl surrounded with flowers, which was called, "Charlotte." Opposite this was another graffiti of a can of spray paint with a crow on it that I forgot to take a photo of. Also, there's another one of a little boy with a flock of birds, which was around since last year that, for the life of me, I always forget to find. (Official site / Instagram)

Anjo Bolarda's Pangako is actually part of last year's Art BGC festival, including it here because I've never seen it until now. Bolarda is another local self taught graffiti artist that calls his art "Sukiyaki Western," which shows the union of Japanese and Western street art. The combination of the colors black, white and red is something I really appreciate as well as the equally detailed and playful patterns. (Behance / Instagram)

KFK's May You Find Comfort Here is hands down my favorite this year. KFK is a trio comprised of artists Kate Quebrar, Fulgencio Bermejo, and Katrina Almalki, and was the winner of the Art BGC 2016 Open Call. Their original plan was to paint this firewall with "Today is a great day." but decided to have a different concept when they saw the space given to them. Finding this artwork felt like stumbling upon a sort of secret sanctuary, your personal hidden garden in the middle of all the concrete pavement. (Instagram)

This building-wide mural (see cars on photo for scale) is the masterpiece of Los Angeles artist Andrew Schoultz. "The Heart of God's Country" took around 7 days to finish and is his largest mural to date. Schoultz' public art usually touches issues with regard to the environment and politics. (You can see this piece on the W Fifth Building along 5th Avenue.) 
Although Schoultz exhibits in galleries and museums, he often works in large-scale installations and public murals with the intention of making his work available to the general public. In densely layered, chaotic, narrative imagery, Schoultz explores environmental crises like oil spills and natural disasters, political issues such as war and corruption, and the economics of globalization and capitalism. (x)

Another breath-taking mural can be seen at the BGC Corporate Center building at the corner of 32nd Street and 11th Avenue. Titled "Calamansi and Sampaguita," this gigantic mural is the work of Francisco Diaz (aka Pastel), an artist from Buenos Aires. So, what's the story behind this? Diaz explains:
“Based on ancient local traditions, these plants have a native symbolism that switched during the last times. Since 1565, Philippines has been invaded by different countries and regions, being always in a large social and political transition trying to preserve the native spirit. Calamansi is a plant used during Filipino funerals as way of purify the body, while the Sampaguita (national flower), which represents humility and reverence, actually is the flower that young kids sell on the streets just to survive.”
I couldn't get a closer shot since the lot beside BGC Corporate Center's already fenced, so I had to cross the street to capture the entirety of this beautiful artwork. I think this is my second favorite piece out of all the murals I've seen. (Official Site / Instagram)

Seen but not photographed: Magsasaka by Archie & Aleili, and Let's Roll by Dog and Pony. Photos from ArtBGC's Instagram.
The first mural I saw during my art hunt was Dog and Pony's Let's Roll. I wanted to take a shot showing the entirety of the gasoline station where it was situated but it's noon, it's hot and it would take too much effort. Haha. I already skipped looking for Archie Oclos and Aleili Ariola's homage to our Filipino farmers, Magsasaka (inner compass was too drained lol), but unexpectedly saw it while I was on my ride home. I actually took a photo of it but it was too blurry. Hehe.

Missed: Kris Abrigo's.
The first Abrigo I've heard and knew of was Frances. I saw this wall art by him at The Collective way, way back. I became more familiar with Kris Abrigo because I had friends then who were mainstays at Kanto Artist Run Space (also at The Collective) and I guess almost every one in the local art scene in one way or another knows each other. This 70-feet high street art is Abrigo's, at the same time, a local artist's biggest work in the Philippines. (Instagram)

That's it! It was really nice to be back in BGC after a long while (I've relocated to Quezon City) and see all these wonderful graffiti. I wish in the future it would spread to most cities and would include more local artists (I've read that BLIC was in the running during Art BGC's Open Call!) so as to showcase homegrown talents. And another thing that's nice is they now offer walking tours (everyday, 5:30 PM) to see all the public art! Looking forward to an even bigger mural festival next year!


For more information, please visit Art BGC's Facebook and Instagram pages.
Official Site