A Nick Joaquin sculpture, his trademark beer bottle raised in his hand, greets the visitor at the entrance of Erehwon Center for the Arts in Old Balara, Quezon City, a home for the seven lively arts owned by businessman-art dealer Rafael Benitez. Proceed to the third level and you find yourself in the memorabilia room of the “master story-teller,” one of the many artists Erehwon has chosen to honor in one way or the other.
The four-story building has many other features, like an abstract mural in the penthouse and a grim mural protesting the atrocities of martial law in the third story, rehearsal hall for dancers and musicians, paintings, music studio, even a dormitory for artists who may wish to spend the night here while working and, not least, a big printing press.
Outside is a large outdoor area where performances are held plus the center’s gallery.
The occasion was the recent “Erehwon Fiesta 2018,” a two-day event. Guests who attended included playwright Bonifacio Ilagan, artist and bon vivant Boysie Villavicencio, social realists Adi Baens Santos, Edgar T. Fernandez, Antipas Delotavo, Bogie Tence Ruiz and Neil Doloricon and Chris Millado and Ariel Yonzon of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).
There was a children’s exhibit, “Color Your Life,” a regular project of Erehwon Ateliers I and II, showcasing the works of children from the Cordilleras, specifically Bontoc, Mountain Province. These included portraits drawn on canvas, masks made from paper plates, colored paper and collaborative acrylic paintings.
Included was a special exhibit by 8-year old visual artist Mika Adriana Benitez, a grandchild of the center’s CEO.
There were performances by the Erehwon Dance Scholars, soprano Thea Perez and base-baritone Greg de Leon, brass members of the Metro Manila Concert Orchestra (MMCO) of composer Chino Toledo and the Erehwon Jazz Orchestra.
The coffee-table book “Erehwon Arts 2014-2017,” the third volume of its kind documenting activities in the last three years, was launched.
The Erehwon Arts Center has emerged in recent years as an alternative to the CCP in this part of town as attested to by CCP vice president Millado. —CONTRIBUTED