HER NIECE’s ongoing battle with a rare form of cancer is the driving force behind renowned painter Lydia Velasco’s latest collaboration with fellow artists.
The resulting artworks and additional donated pieces, counting to more than 100 so far, will be offered in a fund-raiser called “Art With A Heart” beginning Sept. 15 at Galerie Artes in Blue Ridge, Quezon City.
Velasco’s efforts began four months ago, spurred by niece Maria Rhodora “Mara” Duran’s fight with myelofibrosis, a rare bone marrow cancer that requires frequent blood transfusions and laboratory tests to extend her life. (Mara is the only known patient in the country.)
Doctors said only a bone marrow transplant would save Mara, 26, who was forced to quit her job as a researcher at the Department of National Defense because of the disease. The operation will cost P7 million.
Local artists immediately responded to Velasco’s call for help. She said meetings with members of the Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday Groups were met with donations of paintings and pledges to collaborate on future works.
Velasco has raised P1.5 million so far, from the sale of works given by Raul Isidro, Fil Delacruz, Migs Villanueva, Ana de Leon, Roel Obemio and Jun Martinez. Proceeds are used for Mara’s weekly medical exams.
Velasco hopes “Art With A Heart” would raise at least P2 million more. “Bahala na ang Diyos, tutulungan naman ako ng Panginoon,” she said.
Velasco showed snapshots of canvases she worked on jointly with other artists. These include a 36”x36” with Carlo Magno showing a procession of ladies with the artists’ trademark profiles; a conversation between Velasco’s women and Hermes Alegre’s diwata; and an exploration of Edwin Wilwayco’s dreamy circles by a high cheekboned Velasco maiden.
Velasco said the collaborations made her explore her friendships with the artists in a different way. “You put yourself in the same mind-set to bring harmony to a piece if work. Sometimes a work comes to me and I finish it, or I do a work and send it to them,” she said.
Velasco said allowing her characters and those of other artists to converse inside a frame requires balance.
Villanueva’s toddlers, for example, required a mother. The subjects in the collaboration with Jun Martinez worked so well it looked like the work of just one painter.
Jose Tence Ruiz sent a female figure dressed in the red velvet drapes that echoed his “Ayungin” installation shown in last year’s Venice Biennale. Velasco painted the face.
There were also joint projects with Velasco’s sister Daisy Carlos and with Mara herself.
While the paintings bore the distinct personalities of both Velasco and her artist friends, the pensive mood of her subjects continued to dominate the works.
Of her subjects, Velasco said: “She may look soft and quiet but underneath all that, if you look at the eyes, deep inside she is fighting.”
Just like Mara.
“Art With A Heart” runs from Sept. 15 to 30 at Galerie Artes, 2/F Place One Bldg., Brgy. Blue Ridge, Katipunan Ave., Quezon City.