CURIOSITY AND OPENNESS ARE CRUCIAL TO DEVELOPING TASTE, IN ART AND OTHER MATTERS, ACCORDING TO THIS STYLISH ART COLLECTOR.
Meet arts patron Trickie Lopa, interior designer C. Mark Wilson, and entrepreneur Karen santos, who are inspiring excitement and making waves in their respective industries.
Later this month, the latest edition of Art in the Park gets underway at the Jaime Velasquez Park in Makati. Billed as the country’s most significant affordable art fair, it’s a pet project of Trickie’s, one of the driving forces behind Philippine Art Events Incorporated, with her partners Dindin Araneta and Lisa Ongpin Periquet. In the past decade, this powerful trio has worked behind the scenes to influence the way we view, interact with, appreciate, and purchase art. Then, in a few months, the second edition of their latest baby, The Nonesuch: Fine Collectibles and Rarities, will take place, and before you know it, it’ll be time for the icing on the cake, Art Fair Philippines 2019. Can you imagine how things would be if Trickie had stayed in the fashion retail industry?
Before becoming a force in art circles, Trickie was involved in fashion, helping run Orange Juice (a division of Joanna Ongpin Duarte’s Big & Small Company) involved in clothing for children and pre-teens, “doing everything from design to running the stores,” she says. It was her life from 1998 to 2011; you could say fashion was her big first love.
A Management Economics graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University, Trickie’s initial plunge into the art world was in London, where her doctor husband Randy was doing his fellowship in the mid-1990s. “My interest was sparked by living there,” she says, recalling those days with fondness. “I went on a year-long museum-visiting bender, and I also took short courses in art history at the Victoria and Albert Museum.” At around the same time she met Lisa—Joanna’s sister—who also happened to be living in London. Perhaps sensing Trickie’s growing obsession with art, Lisa invited her to join the Museum Foundation of the Philippines, an offer which Trickie considered when she returned to Manila.
During her stint as the board secretary, Trickie helped dream up Art in the Park. “We needed to raise funds, and the fundraising activities were always concerts. I said ‘I’ll be damned if I have to sell another ticket,’” she recalls, laughing. “We needed a project for the second anniversary of the Salcedo Market, which the Museum Foundation set up, and so that whole thing happened.” While all of this was going on, Trickie was still in fashion retail, but she had begun to realize something: “The art scene was the hobby, the main job was Orange Juice; and now, the hobby was becoming the job.”
The dust would start to settle on her constant battle with her priorities in 2011, when the Big & Small Company was sold. There was a year-long transition period where she stayed on as a consultant to the new owners; during this time that she co-founded Philippine Art Events, and started planning for the inaugural Art Fair Philippines. A highly stressful time, it was, in the end, highly rewarding.
Six editions later, Art Fair Philippines still sets the bar for local art events and remains highly challenging to produce, Trickie says, taking at least 10 months to conceptualize and prepare for. her group’s latest, the Nonesuch, might not be on the same scale, but Trickie believes there’s a lot of potential. Moving away from contemporary art to focus on native crafts and art forms, the Nonesuch reawakened a latent interest of hers. “I’ve always been interested in tribal art. The reason I decided not to pursue it is that I didn’t know where to turn for scholarship on particular types of Philippine art. I wasn’t knowledgeable enough to start collecting seriously. Early in my collecting days, I was exposed to the contemporary art scene, and it was easier to get into that in depth. Because of Art in the Park, I got to know the artists, I got to know the galleries. It was easy to talk to an artist, get to know what his art is all about.”
By organizing the Nonesuch, Trickie learned that a similar vein could be tapped, from a separate circle. “It’s a different cast of characters. I realized that there is so much knowledge available. So I started looking, got exposed to it more, and I got interested in tribal art again.”
Even after about a dozen years of serious collecting, Trickie says she’s still learning. Asked about how she develops her eye, she says, “One must always possess curiosity and openness—to new places, new experiences, new people—in order to keep elevating one’s senses. The most curious people turn out the most engaging, they don’t get stuck in their comfort zones, and thus, become ever more interesting.” Continuing this train of thought, she quotes the famous art collector, Charles Saatchi. “‘The more you like art, the more art you like.’ So the more you see things, the more you train your eye.”