Caviar vs tihi-tihi

By: Raymund Fernandez October 07,2015 - 12:33 PM

He was quite mature when he first tasted Russian caviar. It came in a very small can brought to the gathering by a relative and friend, a lawyer who loves horses. And the host, the good doctor, served various things that went well with it. The evening went well, with the conversation expectedly veering towards the subject of food and art.

Caviar is mostly only salt. It goes into the mouth and becomes there minicule explosions of an ever so subtle saltiness carrying with it a taste of the sea. You would miss the taste of it altogether unless you looked for it.

Now the local tihi-tihi — fresh sea urchins — may be seen as another thing entirely. Unless one believes or has come to realize that the whole point of these foods is to remind us of the sea, even when we are eating it many kilometers away from any large body of water. And both do remind us of it: the taste and smell of a beautiful blue beach, somewhere; the day floating by weightlessly like a good Sunday. Both the caviar and the tihi-tihi are weightless in your mouth and inside you. They stay long with you in memory. Though tihi-tihi would be seen as hard-core native gourmet, given the correct twist of native condiments; while anybody and everybody must love Russian Caviar if for nothing else but its cost.

Please guess how art sorts itself that way also. Was it the Spanish Surrealist Salvado Dali who said it first? Art should be edible. It must be eaten!

It is a wonderful thought to go by if you should soon ever take a Sunday walk through at least 3 locations at the Crossroads in Banilad, Ce bu. There is a good Vietnamese place here for lunch though you have a wide choice of other theme-dining establishments. Lunch done, go immediately to Holicow.

This is a design store; and if you are lucky, you might find Debbie Palao here. She is his friend from so far back she knows his older siblings. The store offers a wide array of excellent local design products, and Debbie can tell you the story behind each one of them.

Local product design is making quite a headway now and Debbie Palao and her contemporaries ride the crest of a new wave. They are making it by promoting design products and the design discipline itself in the local market and culture. This, along with continuing efforts to sell to an export market. You will want to buy a few things, gifts for yourself, or for friends. The products are youthful and entertaining, reminding us of the amorphous divide between art and design, if the divide exists at all.

Which is a fine thought to hold on to as you go next door to Qube, where currently is showing “Odi’s Adventure in the Wild”, a show of paintings by

Filipino-Japanese artist Kenichi Wani. The paintings are child-like fantasies with a very strong appeal to aesthetics. Kenichi has always painted this way even as a young student at the Fine Arts Program of the University of the Philippines Cebu. One sees how he has taken his art to higher levels since those years. And then his old teachers should feel a sense of pride for his achievements.

Art and design are not yet easy professions here although they are becoming more and more fun, if only for the good company. Artists and designers are a community here along with writers, theater people, movie people, crafts people, and others in the expanding reach of the local expressive culture. They gather together during openings. And he, this writer, missed all of them, caught up as he was in a secret project he could not afford to mess up.

And so there was a bias of remorse that accompanied him as he viewed the shows. Especially with Joshua Cabrera’s show, also at the Qube. Joshua is his younger fellow in the Cebu media community. Joshua is a perennial searcher and experimenter with his art, having at one time experimented with tuba, the native coconut wine, as ink medium for his drawings. But this show at Qube is a special show because it is a show of works close to what he does for a living, which is editorial cartooning for a local daily. His exhibition is fun to look at.

But he could not help being struck, as he watched the works from both shows, how closely they leaned to being pleasant. It might just be a thing of generations, of course. He is after all much older. And he grew up in a generation of artists who needed always to take risks, coming even close to being openly offensive or at least hard-core if not that. It was how they defined amazing.

There cannot, of course, be one universal definition for “amazing”. This must be something of a taste falling somewhere between the expensive Russian Caviar and the hard-core smell of the sea of the rare tihi-tihi. It might be a good measure to apply as you watch these shows.

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