By Mariela Angella Oladive

In a splendid debut, Floral Artists Manila (FAM), in collaboration with Artepintura Gallery, brought a burst of artistic flair and women empowerment to Iloilo City through a three-day event dubbed “Bloom and Canvas: Women Artists Transforming Iloilo” on October 6-8, 2023 at Events at Amigo, 2nd floor of Citadines Amigo Iloilo.

The event was officially launched during a press conference on October 6, followed by a series of free demos/workshops on flow art, clay sculpture, and watercolor on the second day conducted by FAM members, which around 40 participants attended.

One of the workshops, led by Jo Uygonco, focused on Flow Art, introducing participants to the abstract style of painting that allows paint to cascade freely on the canvas, resulting in captivating and unique patterns.

Another workshop, guided by Eileen Bondoc Escueta, immersed participants in the colorful world of watercolors, allowing them to explore this expressive medium.

In parallel, Chie Cruz led a workshop on Clay Sculpture, where participants delved into the art of shaping clay into intricate sculptures, giving life to their imaginative creations.

The third day was the event’s highlight, marked by the inauguration of FAM’s art exhibit titled “Floral Splendour V.” It was accompanied by a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by notable figures like La Filipina Uy Gongco Group Vice Chairman Felipe Uygongco, COO Julian Felipe Uygongco, Board of Directors Terrece Uygongco and Iris Pama Uygongco, Country Manager of Ascot Group Philip Barnes, Artepintura Gallery Owner Jo Uygongco, FAM Co-founder Addie Cukkingnan, and ILOMOCA Art Collector/Owner Edwin Valencia.

“Floral Splendor V’ is a group exhibit boasting the works of an all-female artistic collective, Floral Artists in Manila (FAM). Each artwork on display represents the unique craftsmanship of the group’s members, spanning from delicate paintings to exquisite jewelry pieces and more.

Prominent among the displayed works are floral portraits featuring the intricate details of petals, the nuance of light and shadow, and the mesmerizing colors of different blooms. These portraits explore the intimate relationship between art and the natural world.

Flowers have graced countless canvases, from the captivating paintings of Vincent van Gogh’s sunflowers to the alluring watercolors of Georgia O’Keeffe’s irises, igniting the imagination of artists and viewers alike. Why are flowers such a perennial source of inspiration for artists?

During the press conference, several artists shared their unique perspectives and creative journeys. FAM President Naomi Banal-Huertas, who ventured into abstract works, expressed the free flow of creativity in her art, particularly in her flower-themed pieces. Chie, who specialized in various art mediums like oil canvas, watercolor, and acrylic, delved into the symbolism of flowers and their role in our lives. Other artists also discussed their favorite mediums and the personal significance of their work.

General Manager of the Real Estate Division, Maria Angela Salazar, underscored the event’s role in self-expression and its importance in conveying the essence of art and culture to the Ilonggos.

“This event is an opportunity for self-expression and to communicate what art and culture means to us, especially for the Ilonggos. Here at the La Filipina Uy Gongco, our unwavering commitment to promoting and enhancing the culture of Iloilo is at the forefront,” Salazar said, further underlining La Filipina Uy Gongco’s dedication to promoting Iloilo’s culture, citing the handwoven creations by the women of Miagao that adorn Citadines, symbolizing the fusion of art and culture at Events at Amigo.

The artworks displayed are available for purchase, with a significant portion of the proceeds going to the Uygongco Foundation, Inc. (UFI). UFI is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program that aims to provide education and support to underprivileged children, particularly those facing malnourishment and challenging living conditions on Panay Island, as Jo Uygongco explained to Daily Guardian.

Jo is one of the FAM artists who is also affiliated with the foundation. She further shared that Stella Chapero, also one of the FAM artists, is donating half of the sale of her artworks to the International Care Ministry (Negros Occidental) and UFI.

Meanwhile, the exhibit is more than just about art. It is also the first step in FAM’s mission to make art accessible to everyone. The group plans to take their craft to various provinces, starting from Iloilo, sharing their artistic knowledge through exhibits, workshops, and more.

Their vision is to empower artists in regional areas, providing them with opportunities to showcase their talents and gain representation. In line with this vision, the group also aims to show that women in art have a powerful voice.

“We want to show people, especially women, that if they have a talent for art, they should show it. The art scene had been [historically] dominated by men, that is why our group is all women,” said Cuckingnam, adding that their group is open for vetting aspiring artists from the region.

The exhibit will run until December 31. As the group embarked on this artistic initiative, it underscores the idea that the power of flowers extends beyond their aesthetic beauty. It serves as an agent for a more significant cause that resonates with the purpose of this three-day event.

Founded in 2019 by Cukingnan and Remy Boquiren, FAM is passionate about bringing together the worlds of floral beauty and artistry. Read more about the group at their official Facebook page, Floral Artists Manila.