Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

[continued from previous post]

Door #2
White Box Studio, Cubao
Established in April 2007 by Carlo Ongchangco and Pamela Aquino, White Box is the youngest of these four spaces. Both Ongchangco and Aquino had participated in a group show at the now-defunct bar and restaurant, Uva. During which they noted the lack of representation from younger artists whom both felt really needed a venue for their works. As the prospect of opening a space was brought up, Aquino, an Interior Design student at the University of Sto. Tomas (UP), was offered a space by her father, Cubao Expo owner and administrator Bujim Aquino. By then, Cubao Expo’s reputation as a bohemian destination was very well established and what once began as a pipe dream became a reality.

Though a story less tumultuous than most, starting and continuing White Box’s operations is not without its obstacles. Ongchangco confesses, “It’s very hard to sell these type of works, more often than not, the artists are still experimenting.”

Aquino adds, “We had a hard time marketing, it being our first gallery… it [required] a lot of commitment and guts,” adds Pamela. Recognizing this, they secured the help of Ongchangco’s sister, Coney Tango to manage the business side. Together the triumvirate divvy up the tasks of creative direction (Ongchangco), operations (Aquino), and finances (Tango).

Every two weeks sees them putting up new works of art—a fact the owners express pride in. While their space continues to be home to many aspiring artists, many of whom come from nearby University of the Philippines (UP), they have also played host to exhibitions by the likes of 2007 Metrobank Art and Design Excellece (MADE) winner in oil painting Mark Andy Garcia, visual artist Manok Ventura, and veteran artist Elsie “Inday” Cadapan.

At 31 years, Ongchangco reflects on how he has changed since becoming a part of White Box. Aside from understanding the business side of art, this Saturday Group member known for his use of a bright palette and rigid lines says, “Mas naging responsible ako…[because of this space], naging mas-wider ang view ko ng art, mas lumalim (I became more responsible…[because of this space], my view of art widened, deepened).” He admits the space takes its toll on his time for art making and he now targets to show his works even just once each year. Yet, he catches himself and seems to mentally straighten his back by saying, “You just have to have the discipline to make it work.” [continued in next post]

Correction: Original article cited Aquino being from UST. She studies in UP.


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