Pinto Art Museum

Learning of the Pinto Art Museum is nothing short of serendipitous – I was actually googling for Meteora, a Greek-themed house in Tagaytay which you can rent for overnight stays in the city when I discovered that the owner of Meteora also owned a house/gallery/museum in Antipolo. 
Dragging hubby to Antipolo than to Tagaytay was easier, given that it’s just about an hour’s drive from our house. 
Getting there was a breeze and soon, we saw ourselves in front of this white-washed arched entrance:
“Pinto”, literally means door in Tagalog. The museum sits on a one hectare property which also houses the Silangan Gardens (the private sanctuary of the owner, neurologist and St.Luke’s Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joven Cuanang).
A huge garden to the right immediately greets guests upon entry, with its own private chapel (left structure) and gift shop/office (right).  I was going to take a photo of the nearby building and pool but then I realized that it was the house of the owner already so, I didn’t out of courtesy. 🙂


The museum was built back in 2001 as a storage space, and eventually evolved into a gallery/exhibit hall for contemporary and modern art. Majority of the artists whose works are on display in its halls are from the province of Rizal (of which Antipolo is a part of). 

In the main gallery, you will find the sprawling Karnabal occupying prime space, a very vibrant 144 x 480 inch painting by the Saling Pusa art group – undoubtedly the centerpiece of the museum.

The Karnabal. It dwarfs anyone standing beside it. I love the unified chaos – which is actually what you get when you go inside a carnival (or probably more appropriate, a perya, the local version).

I was informed by one of the staff that the entire place was designed by Antonio Leaňo. Building such a place is obviously a mean feat but I was even more amazed when he told me that Leaňo was not an architect. I guess he just went with what felt and looked good to him and the results were marvelous. 
The place is Mediterranean-inspired, full of white walls, high ceilings, arched porticos and wide windows that allow the fresh mountain air to circulate around the entire property. I just wonder how they are able to keep the rains out.
Each structure in the complex can also be considered an artwork, with its strategic and symmetrical use of picture windows flanked by wooden beams and frosted glass. Stones discovered during the building of each “house” were left as a natural decoration. To me, it gives the place an even more appealing charm (yes, I am getting redundant with each sentence).
That’s hubby standing under one of the paintings in the main hall.

One of my favorite paintings, Uyayi kay Paraluman by Karen Flores, perhaps due to the overall feeling of serenity I got just looking at it.

Karaniwang Araw by Emmanuel Garibay. Quite accurate in its portrayal of what a normal day is like for a vast majority of Pinoys – playing/watching basketball, spying in neighbors (which is what I assume the couple is doing), the husband enjoying his pastime and the wife looking after the kids. Add in a backdrop of religious tones and yeah, it’s a typical day.
There were just too many art pieces I liked that I sometimes ended up staring at some of them for a long time before moving onto the next.

This artwork caught my eye because the artist used a very interesting medium, especially given that her subject was an altar, and the product is an eerie compilation of images that seemed lit from within.
Hallow by Nona Garcia, using x-ray and light box.
Himala by Juanito Torres
The next gallery we went to had several wire sculptures by Stephanie Torres which I really found interesting. The man sitting on a wooden swing in the middle of the room set against a huge picture window with fluffy white pillows inviting the guests – the word that comes to mind is relaxing. 

Oblivious wire scuplture, with Twilight by Jim Orencio in the background.
A separate loft is dedicated to works of balikbayan visual artist Mark Justiniani, whose oil on canvas work, Sessions with the Messiah serves to greet visitors who enter his loft.

I am partial to blue and yellow, and set amidst a room full of interesting yet muted paintings, the Sessions with the Messiah just pops and catches the eye.

My favorite among Justiniani’s works on display, Kubling Sayaw, an oil painting on board.
Moving from one building to another is also a visual feast, as each are separated by lush gardens; I liked it that while the plants are obviously maintained, you still get the feeling that they are growing as they would in the wild and the garden doesn’t feel too contrived.
Overlooking the Siraulo Cafe, a Bizu-run cafe inside the sprawling complex. We didn’t get to eat here since we wanted to beat the traffic back to Manila but if you’ve eaten at Bizu, then select offerings from their menu are served here.
I would love to have something similar to this in our future house, with a hammock thrown in.
The next building we went to contained the more thought-provoking/controversial art pieces in the entire museum.

Sanay hindi na inalay sa manlilinlang ang unang tagay by Guerrero Habulan. I immediately thought of a woman who gave her virginity to a man who later left her. You?
The sunken church, We are here together forever until the world will be on the verge of sorrow, by Constantino Zicarelli
Perhaps one of the more, if not the most, controversial art works in the entire museum is this depiction of the University of Santo Tomas’ Main Building swarmed with rats. The fact that it was made by a UST alumnus made it all the more so. 
Tauntingly titled Like rats it returns to its true form by Constantino Zicarelli.

Future Violence by Constantino Zicarelli. Perfect timing of these three kids, sitting underneath that very graffiti-inspired piece just as I was taking a photo.
Beautiful picture windows such as this are artworks in themselves. This one overlooks the new wing of the museum.
Our last stop was the newest addition to the museum, which looked perfectly set against the clear sky. I felt like I was somewhere in the Greek islands.

This place would probably look just as good, if not better, at night time, illuminated by incandescent light.
Spacious and airy. Both ends of the building have a loft. One, I assume, is used as a bedroom.
That wooden door under the stairs holds another set of works portraying women.

I forgot to take the name of this set of works but it portrays women in various conversations.
Hubby, as usual, would not take my picture and I didn’t have my trusty tripod with me so I did this:
I shoot you, you shoot me? Nah, he wasn’t taking my photo but of the view. I thought it hilarious that we were both taking pictures at the same time.

There’s one hidden room near the side entrance of the new building which should not be missed. The staff mentioned that the good doctor gave Leaňo this room and allowed him a free hand in what to do with it. 
Simply titled Forest, the room mimics a bamboo forest, with large basins serving as ponds with boulders seemingly floating in the air. The floor is littered with fresh leaves – I had to ask the guy if they change the leaves regularly coz the entire room smelled of freshly cut grass.
Our last stop was the Gallery Shoppe found at the entrance of the museum where art pieces, souvenir items, and other curio are for sale.
Lutang by Mark Justiniani, is another one of my favorites.
I know practically nothing about art (styles, movements, etc) and I never attended classes on art appreciation but I love looking at them (getting envious in the process – dear parents, how come I was not gifted?), so I cannot give you any useful critique or interpretation other than describe them to you and share my favorites. But I would definitely recommend making the trip to Antipolo to visit this gem of a place.
Stairway to Heaven?

*Some tips: 
If you are driving, take the Ortigas Avenue all the way to Ortigas Extension, passing by the Cainta Junction and on to Tikling. Proceed uphill until you reach the Ynares center (should be on your left); take a right turn on the first street to your right and go straight until you reach the gate to Grand Heights Subdivision.
If via commute, take the jeepney (or FX) going to Antipolo and get off at the Ynares Center. From there, you can take a tricycle to Grand Heights.
The Pinto Art Museum is located on the first street from the gate. The address is 1 Sierra Madre, Grand Heights, Antipolo City. It’s open from 9AM to 6PM, Tuesdays to Sundays. Entrance fees are Php150 for adults and Php75 for students. Senior citizens get 20% discount.
They have a facebook page where they regularly announce upcoming events and exhibits, and for those interested in renting the venue or having pictorials there, the contact information is also listed. 

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