Marriage is for the “slightly insane”: Allan Cosio and Ivi Avellana-Cosio, artists
In an art industry where relationships are as ephemeral as watercolor, Allan Cosio, 76, and Ivi Avellana-Cosio, 75, have proven cynics wrong and made their marriage work.
Even better, they have raised what appears to be a completely normal family, and fostered something akin to domestic bliss, in the frenzy of their respective artmaking—so much so that they’re arguably the only artist-couple that have stuck together, but remained at the top of their game.
Retrospectives of their careers are now being held, and their entry into the sixth decade of artmaking should be welcomed by everyone, including the jaded and the blasé who insist art and heart don’t mix.
Do artist-couples make a strong marriage or partnership? Why?
Allan Cosio (AC): We do, now. We’ve grown sensitive to each other’s needs and moods. Support is essential.
Ivi Avellana-Cosio (IAC): Any couple can make a marriage and partnership strong if they really commit to it.
Artists are supposed to be strong, stubborn personalities, eccentric at best, egoistic at worst. How do you balance or tame your artistic sensibilities?
AC: Yes to all that. You can’t tame them. Just shout “P—-g ina!” Take a break. And grow up.
IAC: The sensibilities are inborn. What you do with them is really up to you. Case in point: Lee Krasner was a brilliant American painter who sacrificed her own career for many years to attend to her husband Jackson Pollock’s every need, no matter that he was stubborn, eccentric, egoistic, vain, etc. etc. until the day he died. That was her choice. I have never given much thought to checking/balancing/taming my own artistic sensibilities. They are part of who I am and they manifest themselves in my art. I have been exhibiting professionally since 1967, when I was still single—so, yes, I have set habits and choices.
Personally, I prefer to work in a private place (think Virginia Woolf’s “room of one’s own”) and with classical music playing. When I’m working, I don’t get hungry at the usual times, so I may eat very late. I don’t like my art materials touched or moved. I like clean work, no matter the subject. And I don’t like to show work in progress. But that’s just me.
How do you resolve disagreements? Marriage crises?
AC: Take a break. Find the reasons for this needless suffering—which you will realize are mostly caused by you—and end it. Always think family.
IAC: When you’re a blushing bride and you first come up against a situation that upsets you, no matter what it is, you will usually clam up because, my goodness, how could this be happening, you two are so in love, and you wouldn’t know what to say or how to say it, and how come he doesn’t understand, and what if he loses his temper, or my goodness, you didn’t even know he could lose his temper pala!
After some time, you realize you have to say something because, if not, how will he know what you’re feeling or thinking? So, you learn to communicate, which is vital to your relationship. And there is no need to be aggressive or combative. There are countless ways to say one and the same thing and still be civil.
If you were to hold an exhibit, as a husband-and-wife team of artists, what would be the theme? How would Albert (Avellana of Avellana Gallery) curate it?
AC: Theme or title would be, “Magkamukhang Artists.” Curated days apart, or weeks, or months, or the year after? Just kidding!
IAC: Actually, Albert already curated one some years ago with six or seven couples, if I remember right, and I doubt that he would do an encore, because he always has some new idea up his sleeve.
Would it be okay for your children to be artists and marry artists?
AC: Our elder daughter-artist is married to an artist. Our younger daughter-artist better not marry.
IAC: Our two daughters were always allowed access to art materials. They have both exhibited some of their work in group shows. Now that they are adults, our older daughter Dana is concentrated on photography and writing, and the younger one, Ina, on film criticism and writing, as well.
What would be your advice to an artist who wants to marry another artist?
AC: Stay single!
IAC: Although I am a visual artist, my background is actually theater, since my parents and some other friends founded the Barangay Theatre Guild in 1939. I started as a child actress and acted until the 1990s. In the visual arts, as in the theater, and any other performing arts, I always say you have to be slightly insane to do what we do. And all my colleagues agree. If you can live with that, times two, go ahead. But do not lose yourself! –LITO B. ZULUETA
Ivi Avellana-Cosio is marking her 50th anniversary as an artist with the ongoing retrospective, “Journey: Art at 50: Beyond Painting,” at Finale Art File, Warehouse 17, La Fuerza Compound, Chino Roces Ave., Makati City.
Sharing insights: Johnlu Koa and Marilou Peña-Koa,entrepreneurs
“We’ve been married for 23 years now,” Johnlu Koa says. “We are constantly anticipating for each other’s needs without having to ask each other. We are always traveling together for business and leisure. We both love to shop, not only for clothes and fashion goods, but also for
insights and unique experiences applicable to business and personal interests. We try our best to think positively every time.
How do we complete each other? We share business ideas and insights. I help her in retail strategy formulation and business modeling. She’s got the fashion sense, while I have the business sense as a result of my teaching experience in UP [University of the Philippines] and almost 30 years of doing business in shopping malls. We respect our respective in-laws and share our time with them.” –MARGE C. ENRIQUEZ
Complementing each other: Jessica Kienle-Maxwell, head designer, Philux, and Jesse Maxwell, chief operating officer, Magsaysay Transport and Logistics
Jessica Kienle-Maxwell: I first met Jesse in Paris in 2009 through a common friend. He was visiting while I was living there. Since we were in a big group, we didn’t get to chat. In 2013, we started bumping into each other at events in Manila, and finally got to know each other better. At one of these events, he asked me out an a date.
Since our first date on March 19, 2013, we have been inseparable. We saw each other as often as we could, going out on dinners and movie dates. We also did fun activities such as dive trips, getting our advanced scuba dive certificates, traveling and discovering new places.
We got engaged in July 2015, and got married on March 19, 2016—the same day as our first date.
Jesse lives in the moment and doesn’t make plans. He loves spontaneity. I am the opposite. I like advanced knowledge, to be prepared and know what’s coming. This is how we complement each other nicely.
Now we are having the best time watching our newborn, Luca, grow up little by little every day, and witnessing his milestones. Parenting has been such an incredible journey. Sometimes we can’t believe that we made a little human. He has brought so much joy and love into our relationship. We are thankful to be blessed with such a sweet and loving baby boy.” –MARGE C. ENRIQUEZ
Pals, business partners, couple: Zelda Aragon-Kienle, president, Philux, and Max Kienle, Philux founder and chair
Zelda Aragon-Kienle: I was in college when I met Max at the now defunct Queue Disco in 1980. I was 19 then and Max was 32. My friends had noticed this good-looking foreigner sitting at a corner, nursing his drink. I passed him on my way to the ladies’ room. He stopped me and asked for a dance. I didn’t answer. When I came out of the rest room, he held my elbow and insisted on a dance. As I excused myself, he pulled me and looked into my eyes. “It’s now or never,” he said.
My friends started teasing me, saying that my going to the restroom was a ploy to catch Max’s attention.
Later in the evening, he invited me and my friends for a nightcap at his place in the former Knecht compound. We exchanged phone numbers. We started talking to each other every day. I was 21 when we were married in 1982.
Max came to the Philippines as an executive for Cargil, an American trading company. Since he loved nature and exploring the provinces, he met suppliers for handicrafts. He put up Philux as a trading company, which started selling baskets. He then got a partner in France.
Because of the political situation in the early ’80s, we moved to France and managed Philux from there. We both missed the Philippines, so we came home in 1984. We had our first baby in 1986.
We respect each other’s position at home and at work and support each other. Communication is very important. We’re friends, business partners and a couple. This has made our family life stronger. Max has instilled his values to our daughters.
Max is 70, but he is young at heart and still bikes to work. He likes challenges and always pushes himself to excel. This keeps him sharp. He has always been very supportive of me. –MARGE C. ENRIQUEZ