Art Watch: Tagum art finds its cradle

Tagum Tourism Gallery premiers with "Merging Ground" as its first exhibition (photo-Kublai Millan)

Art found its cradle in Tagum and that’s something for the community artists to celebrate about. 

The address? The new Tagum Tourism and Cultural Office. The center has designated an exhibit space exclusively for visual artists to showcase their obras and named it Tagum Tourism Gallery. It will not only salute the talented but also encourages others to pursue and hone a passion. 

Location matters and the gallery’s spot on the ground floor of the building is ideal. Steps from the main entrance, the art gallery makes it easily accessible for art enthusiasts to immerse into the creative minds of artists via the canvases. 

When filled with art, the room is an appealing space at the entrance hall. Its burst of colors is the first thing the visitor will encounter upon entering the establishment, waving, inviting the passer by to enter. Or, call it the “welcome distraction” when visiting the premises for some other purpose. 

As a plan, the Tagum Tourism Gallery will host art exhibits regularly spotlighting the local artists. From the city’s artist roster, it will be a busy time for the gallery. 

Since the establishment of MindanaoArt, the biggest art show in this part of the country, the presence of the Davao del Norte contingent has been consistent. In the 2021 exhibition, in the middle of the pandemic, even when people movement was limited, the Tagumenyos proved themselves worthy of an audience. The 2022, the fourth staging of MinArt, the Tagum artists caused a stir—among the visitors and the social media—with the impressive murals, while at a satellite exhibit, the smaller canvases were snatched quickly by out-of-town collectors. 

Kublai MIllan, artist and organizer, said, “Most of the promising Tagum artists were born out of the pandemic and it was a blessing in disguise as we discovered them as the up and coming artists in Mindanao, we nurtured them through our mentoring workshops and most are coming out better than the mentees! Tagum artists rendered their best in this year’s fair through their bigger than life murals,.” 

Artist couple & their obras. June & Nelly Porlaes with Kublai Millan (Photo-Kublai Millan)

Perhaps it was the opportune time to launch the city gallery. While the seasonal exhibitions are amazing avenues for the artists, the Tagum Tourism Gallery will be the permanent address for them. 

“Every city should have an outlet of their local talents and Tagum is one of the best models for creative cities,” said Kublai Millan. 

Millan is one of the featured artists on the August launching of the Tagum Tourism Gallery along with Tagumenyo artists Rene Milan, Jing Cosio, Caroline ‘Bing’ Galang-Taojo, Jun Porlares, and Nelly Porlares. According to Tagumenyo Victor Dumaguing, artist, art professor, mentor and the curator of the launching show, he assembled both seasoned and promising artists who have a body of work on hand and invited Davao artist Kublai Millan to be part of the opening. 

Kublai Millan's pieces (artist's photo)

Of the ensemble, Caroline ‘Bing’ Galang-Taojo is the neophyte among the seasoned artists. On the onset of her pursuit of visual arts, she’s been an admirer of the established Tagumenyo artists. Though hesitant, she was told by her mentor that with her capability and body of work, she was ready to exhibit. The acceptance she received from the group was a boost to her morale. 

Caroline Bing Taojo & her artworks (photo-Caroline Taojo)

“The first exhibit should have a wow factor. ‘Merging Ground’ gathers artists of different backgrounds and different art influences and styles in a single space. Furthermore, the exhibit also celebrates the National Sight Month. Eyes pertain to vision, and the gallery’s vision is to develop art—as a creative expression and its appreciation, in Tagum,” said Dumaguing. 

And the crowd was wowed. “Merging Ground” was a success drawing in an average of 100 visitors per day during the three-week run of the show. It also set an example—an inspiring message— that the Tagum Tourism Gallery is an art space which aspiring artists and veterans can share and exchange ideas. 

Artworks of Jing Cosio (Photo- Kublai Millan

Rene Milan & his artowrks (artist's photo)

While the artist and the art pieces can draw in a crowd, proper curation is key to an exhibit’s success. 

“Proper curation could make this very interesting. Curation helps artists create content,” shared Danilos Rayos del Sol, head of National Committee on Art Galleries, who’s also an artist, gallerist and curator. “The gallerist can never forgo curation even in a group of young artists, with neither specific theme nor genres or maybe not visually appealing. It is the curator’s role to narrate the story of the exhibition,” he added. 

“When we talk of importance of curation in art galleries, it means you preserve, in the sense of safeguarding the heritage of art; it means you select the works to be exhibited; it means connecting to art history; and, it means presentation of the artworks in such a way that it tells narrative to give a meaningful exhibition. Choosing artworks to be exhibited based on the educational narrative the curator wants to convey is the biggest challenge. It is a challenge because every curator wants the exhibition to be immersive and engaging, and the goal is for them to have a take away from what they visually see and learn from the narrative,” he said. 

Tagumenyo artists are emerging in big numbers and they have a cradle in the Tagum Tourism Gallery to nourish and express their creativity. That’s another gold bar in the city’s coffer! 

Also published in the SunStar Davao newspaper.

For travel stories, visit 
Follow The Durian Daily & The Commuter on Facebook