Issue of January 13, 2019
     
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Book hub to launch studio, gallery for local artists’ works
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

Twenty-four-year-old Kevin Dale Barrientos was once a wandering soul who found himself at Malcolm Square in 2017, where he saw a group doing on the spot portrait sketching.

For one who started with just a pencil and paper on his own and later  pastels in sketching faces, Barrientos sought and was able to find friends in the Pasakalye Artists’ Group, whose members were once scattered souls themselves who found a home at the side-streets of Bookends Bookstore at Claudio St., Baguio City.

Urged by his parents to take a course different from what he really wanted, Barrientos did not initially have all-out encouragement to tread on the artist’s path, even when his father and a brother had the hands of an artist. But in 2012, he decided to pursue his sketching works, armed with a lot of practice, and stirred by a realistic portrait he unearthed from his brother’s piles that became the very first face he ever sketched – his mother’s.

He then felt the urge to connect with the arts society instead of only himself and few acquaintances admiring his works.

Now, Barrientos is one of the artists regularly commissioned by Bookends Bookstore Philippines and a fixture at the quaint workshop doing on the spot sketches of his models.

He was seen working with his latest piece last week, amidst the homey chaos of moving things to transform a huge corner of the tiny bookshop into an art gallery and studio. Finally, he found his place, doing the thing he’s happiest at.

Bookends will soon launch the bookshop as an “art bookshop” in its owner’s efforts to continue supporting young and homegrown visual artists, giving them better livelihood opportunities and a reputable and attractive venue for their works, as well as a nice place for art enthusiasts to learn and see how art pieces unfold from scratch.

Social entrepreneur Maricar Docyogen, owner of Bookends who supported the birth of the Pasakalye Artists’ Group, said the studio and floor to ceiling walls currently built in the bookshop aims to provide a more attractive display area for the growing number of art pieces produced by the artists.

She said Bookends’ makeover as an art and book shop is in time with the number of high school students doing their on the job training as part of their senior high school arts and design track.

These students, Docyogen said, are sent by the Baguio City National High School and Baguio College of Technology with whom the bookshop has a memorandum of agreement.
 
“Here, students get to observe what the artist does. They also get a mentor in charge of their lessons and workshops for them to learn the trade first hand. We make activities for them,” she said.

The students, as well as new breed of young artists like Barrientos, comprise what evolved now as the “Pasakalye Teens.”

“We are also trying to shape up new leaders in arts, so we teach them things that artists do and must know, including how to market their own works,” she said.

Bookends also helps in coming up with events where the students can exhibit their outputs.

“So now we decided to open up a space in the bookshop and make an art-book shop. Hindi lang books ang nandito, pati mismong mga ‘artista’ and their works would be showcased here,” Docyogen said.

For young artists like Barrientos, she said, “Basta gawa lang sila ng gawa, then we will receive works for them. Kung sabi nila ito ang gusto nilang gawin, gawin lang nila, and we will be here to support them. Everybody could be part of the creative world, it is not only for the elite.”


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