Making public art a statement of sustainability




Carlo Pineda of The Art House is on a mission; and it’s to curate art in such a manner that it’s public, for all to enjoy, and creates a lasting impact for those ready to experience the art. And bear in mind, that’s not really as easy as it sounds. Under normal circumstances, art has been an enclave of the moneyed and influential, seen as a status symbol or considered a territorial domain. And why not? It does take money to move the art world, and that’s a historical reality dating back to the renaissance, when highly regarded artists would seek a patron (and commissions), under the system of “mecenatismo.”

Carlo readily accepts that the system of patronage, or that of agents and galleries, isn’t going to change or disappear. But he’d like to see how the Art House vision of public art that’s community-centered, with younger artists finding access and opportunity, and carrying a message centered on both Philippine culture and sustainability, can coexist with that aforementioned system – and be a vital force in today’s local art scene. It’s ambitious, it’s daring, and I hope they succeed!

Elemental by Leeroy New, is a sustainable, interactive art exhibition that has traveled to Nuvali, and can be experienced by the public until June 2 (it moved to Nuvali on March 28). A collaboration with Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light); it’s a living example of Art House curating and forging synergies that combine art, with love and care for the planet. With a strong sustainability message, it’s emblematic of the kind of creative intent, purpose, and execution that Art House brings to the table.

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Poster for Elemental by Leeroy New, an Art House production, at Nuvali until June 2, 2024.

As Elemento, this Leeroy New installation was first seen in the last quarter of 2023 at the Ayala Triangle Gardens. The Elemental Sphere Pods were the undisputed highlights of the art experience, as the pods were crafted from eco-friendly material, and incorporated elements of nature. 

As such, it was about integrating sustainability into the Art world. And talking to Carlo at length, I appreciated how he recognized that sustainability and an ESG agenda is not one single message. There will always be several dimensions at play, but what’s essential is the consistency of the messaging, and the commitment to the ideals.

On the surface, the Leeroy New Elemental would seem to be about nature, being eco-friendly, about upcycling and repurposing plastic or used materials. But it was also Leroy, as prodded by Art House, acting as mentor to younger artists and helping them navigate the art world. Let’s be frank, the talented Filipino artist is out there, but using the cliche of “many are called, but few are chosen,” the art world can be an unkind, hostile jungle for many of the younger talents. 

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Carlo Pineda with Leeroy New, celebrating Elemento.

With Search Mindscape as partner, Art House also seeks to create these mentoring situations, and formulate career development plans for artists open to the assistance. For Carlo, this is one of the strong reasons he’s been so resolute in blaring out the Art House message, and how it can stay relevant in a myriad of ways. 

Promoting Philippine culture through the arts, and espousing sustainability – it’s not just playing lip service to these lofty aims; but finding projects on ground that push this pair of imperatives. In the near future, Carlo spoke of a project that involves jusi and abaca, alongside the artisanal communities still working with those fabrics and fibers. Then there’s art concepts that center on trash and plastic waste, promoting the notion of a circular economy, and a world where waste is repurposed and recycled in a way that’s replicable and easy to adopt into one’s lifestyle.

My observation is that in sustainability, as in art, the Filipino is too often ready to appreciate, even applaud; but remains a bystander, or a passive observer. Think about how that holds true for both Art and Sustainability. So I love how Carlo and Art House are trying to shake things up, and break that status quo. It’s not going to be easy, but the trying and not giving up, are both so crucial. 

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At the Ayala Triangle Elemento opening, last quarter of 2023. 

Art as experience and not just as static exhibits, or paintings on a wall. Art, not for the one percent, art that isn’t elitist. Art that is accessible to anyone ready to embrace it. 

The Art House wants to democratize the appreciation, experience, and enjoyment of art. It’s ready to tear down the existing template, and forge a new relationship between the general public and art. I’m all for that, and I hope real estate developers and corporate entities find it fruitful to synergize with Art House. To use Art House to help them form new, sustainable links with their respective communities; and at the same instance, make better use of the public spaces and common areas within their properties.