Saturday, 3 March 2018

Ged Merino: Turning Thread and Fabric Into an Art Form




Ged Merino

Meet Queens, New York-based Gerardo “Ged” U. Merino, a Fil-American painter, printmaker and mixed media artist who works with repurposed textiles, who never thought of becoming an artist, does not join art competitions and yet has become a celebrated artist.  Ged was an elementary classmate of mine at Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati. As a child born and raised in the Philippines, his inclination towards the arts was developed at an early age, thanks to his parents.

His mother Virginia lived in a generation where they repurpose, recycled and repaired things.  Creative in her own way, the repurposing of fabrics and other things were just part of her daily life. His mother’s creativeness emerged when she reused materials like old cotton pig feed sacks from his father’s farm. She used various techniques to give the old fabrics new life, embroidering them, dyeing them and sewing them to make pajamas.  Virginia also did a lot of batik. In a similar note, my mother also reused chicken feed sacks sourced from the poultry of my grandparents (who lived just across the street from our old house in Malibay, Pasay City) and also transformed them into pajamas.

Ged, with his pet Basset hound Barnaby, at his studio

During weekends, Ged’s father, a natural storyteller, also took him and his siblings to the farm to explore. As Ged loved to draw, his father bought him art materials and his mother took him to art classes. His father's storytelling and his mom’s repurposing of textiles sparked his interest in the arts and his work and practice has its origins in textiles.

Creature in Green and Red (www.drawingroomgallery.com)

Although he finished his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Philippine Women’s University in 1987, Ged wasn't initially interested in a career in art.  

That is, until he attended an open house held by Manuel “Boy” Rodriguez Jr., a multi-awarded artist who also worked with textiles and the son of Manuel Rodriguez Sr., the “Father of Philippine Printmaking.” 

He became very intrigued by the printmaking techniques his teacher learned during a recent trip to New York and, eventually, Boy asked Ged to work for him as an apprentice. Ged has found his calling. He then started to experiment with "collagraphs," silk screens, etching and other techniques.


Fish and Three Wishes, Mixed Media on Paper (www.momaps1.org)

In 1987, Ged was among the Top Five in the ASEAN On the Spot Painting Competition and he joined the delegation to the ASEAN Youth Painting Conference in Singapore.  The next year, he was awarded the Jackson Pollock Memorial Scholarship to study at Arts Student League of New York


Day Dream in Red, Blue and Yellow, Acrylic on Canvas (www.momaps1.org)


Break Glass in Case of
Emergency 1, 2014

(www.materialsforthearts.org)
Break Glass In Case of
Emergency 2, 2014

(www.materialsforthearts.org)
While studying, he apprenticed with Marcelino Rodriguez, Boy’s brother, who worked on mono prints. After taking a printmaking class, Ged started experimenting, painting and working with printmaking and textiles for quite some time.  

His plan was to stay for only a year in New York but, after four months, he met a gallerist in Chicago who picked his work from a competition, and decided to represent him. Later, he met another gallerist from in Soho (the meeting place of artists including Andy Warhol, who influenced the Pop Art movement) who also ended up representing him.  

Metamorphosis in Black, White and Burgundy, Mixed Media on  Fabric, 34 X 38 in. 2014 (www.drawingroomgallery.com)

Ged decided to stay on, understanding the good and bad sides of the city and assimilating in the changing art scene in New York, made robust with various forms and disciplines by thousands of artists from all over the world, including local artists.  

Metamorphosis in Black, White and Gold, Mixed Media on Fabric, 35 X 49 in. 2014 (www.drawingroomgallery.com)


Vestigial Bliss,
Acrylic on Panel
 
(www.momaps1.org)
Day Dream in Gray
with Black, Red, White
and Yellow,
Acrylic on Canvas
 
(www.momaps1.org)
After living in New York City nearly half of his lifetime, Ged has accumulated things and objects reminiscent of home. Spending several years in Manila working on projects also triggered an immediate reconnection with his roots and culture, most strikingly the contrast of poverty versus waste. 

He was fascinated by the questions of why people buy and hold on to things while some are thrown away.  Discarded materials eventually became his focus. As his subject matter, Ged currently uses personal belongings and objects discarded, forgotten or left behind, incidentally or intentionally, by other people, a way of collecting artifacts from people’s lives and repurposing these discarded materials into his artistic process, giving them a new life by wrapping them in recycled fabric and string, thereby changing their form or function. 


Recurring Dreams 2, 2014 (www.materialsforthearts.org)

Nothing is disposable for him. He has rubbed, hammered and scratched textures from flattened soda cans, soda bottle caps, old canvas, leather, manhole covers, sacks and other quotidian materials that can give life to his art. He uses these as part of the plates or silkscreen them and stitch them onto the fabrics.

Recurring Dreams 7, 2014 (www.materialsforthearts.org)

Ged was always attracted to color, textures and decorative details of fabrics and he has described working with textiles as an adventure.  His process is spontaneous, intuitive and improvisational. Though more of an abstractionist, he also likes working with different materials. He basically started off as a printmaker then started to paint when he was in New York. 

For many years, he switched back and forth, maintaining a day job for the most part (which took time away from his art). It was not until 2010 when he resigned his job and went back to textiles, collecting discarded objects and using them as materials. Ged is currently working on textile-based works augmented by painting and printmaking and sculpture, a medium that is not much explored yet. His work has been shown throughout New York, Chicago and the Philippines. 

Found, Bound, Rebound (www.spot.ph)

Around 2009, Ged started meeting a lot of local artists, including Pinoys who lived and worked around or near his studio. He realized that New York City, though an artists’ haven, does not really have many places where talented emerging artists, especially Filipino artists, could present their work. On September 21, 2011, Ged, with his Colombian wife Carolina Molina (from Bogota), launched the Filipino-centric and cross-cultural Bliss on Bliss Art Projects, an alternative art space in Sunnyside, New York, where emerging, mid-career and established contemporary artists can create and exhibit their works and interact freely with guests in an intimate space.


Metamorphosis in Gray, Mixed Media on Fabric, 28 X 37 in., 2014
(www.drawingroomgallery.com)

Due to lack of funds, it was difficult from the start but, with support from family and the Filipino art community (among them prominent artists such as Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, Lav Diaz and New York-based writers Jessica Hagedorn and Ninotchka Rosca), money started coming in. 

To ensure that only quality works will be exhibited, Ged and a committee of artists evaluate the an applicant’s portfolio when an artist applies to hold an exhibit. When an artwork is sold, Ged does not charge the artists or ask for commission. He just asks them to be in charge of the reception and everything they need for their exhibits.

Prominent Filipino artists like Noel El Farol, Mervy Pueblo, Jeho Bitancor, Bob Nuestro, Eric Zamuco,  Mideo Cruz,  Luis H. Francia and Jojo Austria have done exhibits at Bliss on Bliss. Bliss on Bliss has also witnessed how some artists developed new work. Aside from artists, writers and musicians also meet up here and have dialogues, sometimes leading to collaborations.

Ged Merino with Aze Ong during their exhibit “Open Threads” at Topaz Arts, NY on September 16-October 28, with their collaborative piece called Open Threads.(www.usa.inquirer.net)

When he is not supervising exhibits of upcoming and established artists or in one of his exhibits in many parts of the world, he can be found working in his studio cum gallery. Lately, he divides his time between Manila, Bogota (Colombia) and New York City. Ged recently collaborated with Aze Ong, a Manila based visual and performance artist who creates and performs with her artworks (combining crochet with metal, wood, fibers and semi-precious stones), for the GedAze Project, a year-long collaboration exploring the medium of textile in expressing their art.  They exhibited in a group show at The Drawing Room Contemporary called “Common Threads.” In October 2016, they launched “The GedAze Project” with a show at Bliss on Bliss Art. In 2017, they had five collaborative shows, four in Manila and, last September 16-October 28, at Topaz Arts New York entitled “Open Threads.”


Ged with his  new works “Self Portait in NYC in Red ,Orange and Red Orange"

 Selected Exhibitions
2014
  • The Garment District Public Art Space, New York City, New York, USA
  • Galeria Expreso Del Arte, Bogota, Colombia
  • The Drawing Room, Manila, Philippines
  • Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila, Philippines
2013
  • Las Vegas Center for Contemporary Arts, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA 

Selected Group Shows
2016
  • “Case Studies” (with Junko Yamada, Joseph Paul Fox and Roger Rothstein, March 12 to May 12) - Topaz Arts, New York, USA
  • Common Thread” (with Aze Ong and Raffy Napay, July 16 to August 19) - The Drawing Room Contemporary Art, Manila Philippines
  • "Papers and Layers" (August 27 to  September 25) - Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila, Philippines
2015
  • “Daang-Krus/Pomdi Archipelago” (ACAW 10ed.) - Bliss on Bliss Art Projects, New York, USA
2014
  • “Promdi-Archipelago” (October 25 to November 23) - Bliss on Bliss Art Projects, New York, USA
  • “Re-use-Re-cycle Small Works” – Materials for the Arts, New York, USA
  • “Eco-Logic” (February 6 to March 1) - Las Vegas Center for Contemporary Arts, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA


2012
  • “In This Place We Live 2” - M55 Art Gallery, New York, USA
  • NYFA Bootstrap Festival - Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center, New York, USA
  • “Conversations with Mars/Trans-Glocal” - Bliss on Bliss Art Projects, New York, USA
2011
  • “In  This Place We Live” - M55 Gallery, New York, USA
  • “Eye of the Beholder” – Long Island City Artists (LICA), New York, USA
2010
  • “VIA MAIL”- Capitana Gallery, Talisay City, Negros Occidental,Philippines
  • LEAP – La Mama La Galleria , New York, USA
2009
  • “A Night of 1001 Prints” - M55 Art Gallery, New York, USA
  • “Return to Paradise” - ARIAS Artspace, Makati City, Philippines
  • “When You Say Nothing at All” - ARIAS Artspace, Makati City, Philippines
2005
  • “Maynila to Williamsburg” - Goliath Visual Space, Brooklyn, New York, USA
2002
  • “Mono-Print” - Miriam Perlman Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, USA                             
2001
  • “A is for Abstract” - La Mama La Galleria, New York, USA
2000
  • Printmakers Show - The Holland Tunnel Gallery, Brooklyn, New York, USA
1997
  • “At the Edge....” – Cendrillon, New York, USA
1992
  • “Continuing an Idea” - Miriam Perlman Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, USA
1991
  • “Repeated Surfaces” -  Miriam Perlman Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, USA
1989
  • “Applied Surfaces” - Miriam Perlman Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, USA        
  • “Developing an Idea”” - Miriam Perlman Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, USA
1987
  • ASEAN Preview - Kulay- Diwa Gallery, Philippines
  • 5th ASEAN Youth - National Museum, Singapore
  • MALVAR Artists - Museum of Baguio, Philippines
1986
  • Filipino Contemporary Artists - Ayala Museum, Makati City, Philippines

Selected Solo Shows/Art Fairs/Biennales
2017
  • "Illuminati" (a collaborative project by  The GedAze Project at the Artfair Philippines 2017,  February 16 to 19) - The Drawing Room Contemporary Art, Manila, Philippines
  • "Prelude" ( a collaborative project by The GedAze Project, May 6) -  TDR Escolta, Manila, Philippines
  • "Existence" (a collaborative project by The GedAze Project, May 12 to June 13) -  The UP Vargas Museum, Quezon City, Philippines 
  • "Ripples and Layers" (collaboration  with works by Juvenal Sanso and The GedAze Project, May 18) - Fundacion Sanso, San Juan City, Philippines



2016
  • Transitional Objects" (July 16 to August 9) - The Drawing Room Contemporary Art,  Manila, Philippines 
  • 2016 London Biennale Manila Pollination (September 16) - Metropolitan Theatre,  Manila, Philippines
  • "Sound in Our Head" (The GedAze Project, October 9) - Bliss on Bliss Art Projects, New York, USA.  In memory of Ged’s mother Virgina who, during her later years, suffered from tinnitus. 



2015



2014
  • “Sueños Recurrentes” (May 15 to June 17) - Galeria Expreso del Arte, Bogota, Colombia
  • Metamorphosis” (October 11 to November 13) - The Drawing Room Contemporary Art,  Manila, Philippines
  • “Beneath the Structures, Surface and Scratches” (October 15 to November 23) - Bulwagang Carlos V. Francisco,  CCP Complex, Manila, Philippines
2012
  • Prints and Paintings - Bliss on Bliss Art Projects, New York, USA
2006
  • “New Works, New York” - Avellana Gallery, Philippines 
2005
  • Recent Works MONO-Prints -  Avellana Gallery, Philippines
1988
  • Self Portrait in NYC - Philippine Consulate, New York, USA
1987
  • Textile Works - Helena Benitez Hall, PWU Fine Arts Gallery, Philippines

Bliss on Bliss Studio

Bliss On Bliss Studio: 4149 45th St. Ground Floor, Sunnyside, New York 11104, USA. E-mail:  blissonblissartprojects@gmail.com. Website: www.gedmerino.com and www.blissonblissartprojects.com. See map.

The Drawing Room Contemporary Art: G/F, Bldg. C, Karrivin Plaza, 2316 Chino Roces Ave. Extn., Brgy. Magallanes, Makati City 1231 , Metro Manila, Philippines.  Tel: (632) 801 4397.  E-mail: contact@drawingroomgallery.com. Website: www.drawingroomgallery.com.

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