Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

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Door #3
The Cubicle, Pasig

Ronald Caringal enters The Cubicle wearing a shirt stating, “You don’t see Ronald Caringal.” True enough, Ronald prefers to take the backstage instead of the limelight when it comes to running Cubicle. He points to manager Clint Catalan, and refers to him as “the face of Cubicle”.

“A lot of people don’t know that I’m the owner,” he says, unperturbed. He even laughingly recounts an instance when a hopeful exhibiter asked him for a beer, mistaking him for the hired hand. When it comes to art, however, a spark enters Caringal’s eyes and one can see a glimpse of the fighting spirit that brought him to Utterly Art gallery in Singapore last February 2008, showing COMMITMENT reISSUES after a two-year absence from solo exhibitions.

The Cubicle takes its name from the small 10 by 12 foot space it first occupied in a beauty salon. “Initially, my family had a chain of beauty salons,” reveals Caringal to this writer’s disbelief. “When I decided that I wanted to be an artist, my relatives didn’t know what that was, so I asked for a partition [inside the salon] and encased it in glass.”

Going back further, Caringal, then a UST Advertising major, came to the critical decision to leave the institution and train himself in the arts. He candidly admits, “When I decided to become an artist, di ko alam kung anong gagawin ko (I didn’t know what I was going to do).”

Without fully understanding the system, he went around the mall-based galleries asking how he could get exhibited, to which he received either of two responses: a polite “No” or a straightforward “Di ka pa pwede dito, kasi di ka pa sikat (You can’t be exhibited here, you’re not yet famous).” Frustrated with this encountered exclusivity, he set about creating a space for upcoming artists.

He would go to other art openings, giving out flyers to The Cubicle’s exhibitions; and tap his network of friends to either exhibit or attend the exhibitions. Slowly, The Cubicle found a following and the small space became packed with activity. Caringal relishes the memory saying, “Masaya! Sobrang liit ng space, but every time we had an opening, ang daming taong pumupunta (It was great! The space was so small, but every time we had an opening, so many people would come).”

Since then, the Cubicle has become something of a corner office, having found a larger home in three floors of 40 to 45 square meters each. Its walls have borne the works of Poklong Ananding, Jayson Oliveria, Lena Cobangbang, and Constantino Zicarelli. As beginning artists establish themselves outside the Cubicle, Caringal makes room for other upcoming artists. He gives workshops and even runs a small program he calls Thinkfarm, where he initiates his students into the labyrinthine world of art.

The constant demand from the space leaves Caringal saying, "Nakakapagod talaga (It’s really tiring.” Financially, it has also strained Caringal to capacity. To keep the space running, he exhibits and sells his works to trusted collectors, he notes, “Ironic nga eh…I’m working to pay for a gallery na di ako nakakapag-exhibit (It’s ironic…I’m working to pay for a gallery that I don’t get to exhibit in).” Incredibly, Caringal and The Cubicle remains steadfast—his art making and directing inextricably tied together. He says, “Di ko makita sarili ko na wala ito (I can’t see myself without it).” [continued in next post]

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