James “gaNyan” Garcia definitely put his heart and soul into making his vision a reality. “Tabi Tabi Po” not only presents amazing pieces of art but also an experience. From the recorded sounds of the busy streets of the Philippines to a shanty depicting the slums of Manila to the traditional huts called “Bahay Kubo” with baybayin markings on the doorway to the documentary showcasing Filipino artists explaining folklore creatures to the murals inside and outside, James has brought the Philippines to 1:AM gallery. If you have not had a chance to see it, make sure you head down to the gallery and soak in the Filipino culture.
Get to know the mastermind behind “Tabi Tabi Po” by reading the interview we did with him below.
How did you come up with the theme “Tabi Tabi Po”?
I have been doing research on Filipino Folklore for the past couple years and have been implementing it here and there in my personal works. I found it a great way to learn more about my culture. I felt that by having an exhibit where other artists of Filipino descent express themselves through exploring Filipino Folklore- it would create a space for dialogue for the Fil-Am Community to connect and re-connect through this tradition, and ultimately share this with the greater bay area community. Tabi Tabi Po, means pardon me, or excuse me, often said to Filipino Forest Creatures so they won’t but a spell on you…to me these creatures protect the forest and help keep people aware of the environment. Myth, or reality, folklore allows us to open up to the idea that spirits exists, and fooling with Mother Nature ain’t no joke.
What Filipino folklore creature: scares you the most? you are most captivated by?
Do you have any experience with these creatures?
Well, once i couldn’t move while I was in bed late one night, as if i was being held down. There is a creature called a Bangungot in Filipino Folklore that sits on your chest and sometimes chokes you to death. Its crossed my mind that could’ve been the reason.
How did you ask your buddies to help you out? Were they surprised when you wanted to make a shanty and bahay kubo?
How did typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng affect you?
It just really made me sad for all of those who lost their lives, homes, and livelihood. I have friends and family out there that I was really worried about; fortunately they are all okay.
Why did you think it was important to make this exhibition an art benefit?
It just was the perfect opportunity to help financially, and also spread awareness of how much damage the typhoons caused and how we all can continue to help.
What is your background?
Fil-am, born and raised in the Coachella Valley of So-Cal.
When did you start painting?
Been creating all my life, but began painting in ’98 and started to take it seriously about 5 years ago.
What training have you had to bring you to this point in your career?
I studied graphic design and illustration for a bit at Cal State Fullerton in Orange County and then, transferred to San Francisco State and received a BA in Art in 2002. Since then, I have been showing work in galleries and producing exhibits all over, and have made a lot of great artist friends along the way. I have learned a great deal of technique from painting with friends.
What is your favorite medium?
Acrylic, cuz it dries fast and I like to paint quickly.
What is your inspiration?
Completing the next painting.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Would you be a good guy or bad guy?
Tell us something that people don’t know about you…
I’m an extraterrestrial.
Any new themed-shows in the horizon?
Not sure what themes they would be, but I definitely would like to keep producing Filipino Art Exhibits, and possibly tour this one.
… Toy growing up The original Hound Transformer
… Artist (dead and alive) Don’t have a favorite
… Magazine Hi-Fructose
… Books Paulo Coehlo’s books
… Place to go to get your creative juice flowin’ Going to gallery exhibits and watching Anime
LAST THOUGHTS? Thanks to the folks at 1AM for being kick-ass!!!
Here is a video by JR “Dyno” Ignacio (another participating artist) took at the opening reception.