Tag Archives: Sandra Torrijos

Fireworks, an exhibit by and a journey with Sandra Torrijos

[Note: Once again, I am honored and humbled to have received an invitation to the exhibit of the works of Ms. Sandra Torrijos, my favorite painting mentor.  (Thank you, Sands! The invitation means a lot to me as a friend and a former student who learned a lot from you.)]

Siga, a wooden sculpture by Sandra Torrijos.

Siga, a wooden sculpture by Sandra Torrijos.

FIREWORKS: April 10 to May 15, 2015 in Cocina Juan

There is fire in every one of us. Our inner fire is that source of strength where every thing becomes possible. When I asked Sandra the reason behind the title, she told me this:

“Fireworks because art, life, is passion. It is my way of igniting my love for colors and textures and the human form particularly women expressions. I really worked intensely on these pieces to make positive the cycle of changes that are happening in my life now. Kailangan (It’s necessary that), despite everything, we have to look at the positive side of life, God wants us to be happy. And a big part of that is to be creative.”

I can only agree. Her art works are sending us messages of hope and empowerment. Take for instance the sculpture titled, Siga (sorry, there is no direct English translation but it is how Filipinos call a  neighborhood tough guy]. The word siga is not normally used to describe women so this somehow applauds the power of women to protect themselves and make their own choices despite societal prejudices.  It also reminds us of our own power to survive and fight against adversities, whether as a man or woman. Indeed, Sandra’s works are testaments to how arts and creativity bring so much joys;  they are forms of communion with God, the source of life, colors, and arts.

As many people close to Sandra may already know, she has been shuttling between home in the Philippines and Germany. For half of the year, she lives in Germany where she  is nurtured “in a place conducive to long meditations, with a small library and a lovely European tiger cat, a small garden to marvel at God’s daily miracles, and a loving companion.”  I was curious as to her thoughts about this dual-country residency so I asked her,  “What are your most important lessons /insights as you reside in these two equally beautiful but diverse countries/cultures?” What she said is something that many of our overseas Filipinos (and all of us who travel) can truly relate with:

“Well, it is not easy to be living in two cultures. It is like being on a pendulum. What is important is you know who you are, and you know your life mission. All these will then be your fulcrum or center so you can keep your balance and be a productive member of the community.”

In the show are 20 paintings and 4 wood sculptures. Sandra said that the sculptures were like an “afterthought”. Sandra thinks that “they gave a nice contrast to the paintings. Moreover, not many people have seen my recent sculptures.” I, myself, had not seen much of Sandra’s sculptural works so it was such a pleasurable and inspiring afternoon for me even if it was a very quick visit in between my day’s errands. (I was sad to have missed the Opening Night but I ensured I will be among the first to see her works even before the show opened that evening!) I enjoyed looking at the Tres Marias for it reminded me of my best girl friends who are continuously infusing my life with woman’s instinct (ok, Rose A., you know this is about a private joke among the four of us as we did the road trip in Malaysia!), laughters, wisdom, faith, and wonderful friendships and companionship.

Tres Marias, a wooden sculpture by Sandra Torrijos.

Tres Marias, a wooden sculpture by Sandra Torrijos.

Sandra is a nature-lover and this shows in her works. There is a painting titled, Mango Tree, and this is based on the beautiful tree in Sandra’s garden. Sandra speaks fondly of it, knowing that she may not be able to see it again as they are now selling their family house in Quezon City. When she said, “The painting serves as a remembrance,” there was a little ache in my heart because I know what it means to miss someone or something that is really special to us; something that is connected to us as human beings. I am sure that Sandra was thinking of all those years she sat or played under the tree or enjoyed its luscious fruits when she said that.

Mango Tree, an oil painting by Sandra Torrijos.

Mango Tree, an oil painting by Sandra Torrijos.

Damayan, an oil painting by Sandra Torrijos.

Damayan, an oil painting by Sandra Torrijos.

Sandra invites us to value our heritage. The painting, Damayan, speaks of our culture that encourages community support. Sandra said “it is how we are, women and men, too. I think it is embedded in our culture especially our NGO culture.” It is something that we need to embrace more these days especially as we grapple with societal, environmental, and political challenges. Damayan reminds us that we are all connected as brothers and sisters; that the weave of life binds us all so that one’s kind and loving gesture ultimately redounds to ripples of happiness around him.

As many of Sandra’s friends and followers will know, she has been working a lot for women’s rights and empowerment and all of us I will agree that our world is in a better state because of women like her: generous with their time and talents, always ready to raise the bar higher for women and their dreams. Sandra salutes women who lead and through the painting, Madam, she celebrates “the big woman who can be everything. She is the boss.” Of course, we will all have different interpretations–after all, true art does not dictate–so I will leave it up to you to read her thoughts and listen to her message.

Sayaw, an oil painting by Sandra Torrijos.

Sayaw, an oil painting by Sandra Torrijos.

The painting, Sayaw and the sculpture, Ako, carry important messages, too. In sayaw, Sandra somehow reminds us to dance with joy, to lift our spirits and simply dance in full abandon! In Ako, she may be telling us to value our own worth, to believe in our good self.

Ako, a wooden sculpture by Sandra Torrijos.

Ako, a wooden sculpture by Sandra Torrijos.

Meanwhile, the painting, Soul friends, seems a sweet testimony of how friendships have touched Sandra’s life. Her approach in her art inspires us to be more grateful of the big and small things in our lives. We are reminded to say “thank you” to the friends who continue to stand by our side, rain or shine.  I have been touched by kindness today and the past weeks (R.A., this post and the painting below also carry my BIG thank you message to you!). I am humbled by the kindness around me and I will forever love, share, and give back because I, too, have been showered with magic, with wonderful friends and earth-angels, with divine interventions, and with the most powerful love in the person of my husband!

I have not been much into painting lately although a few months back, I did try to squeeze in some painting time in my schedule. I am glad that I received the invitation because it reminded me to start practicing again. More than that, it was a perfect gift at this phase in my life. Hubby and I had established a social enterprise last year (and currently setting up another another start-up)  so it has been quite challenging and exciting, like a roller-coaster ride. Looking at beautiful art creations has a sort of calming and uplifting effect and so my gratitude comes from that deepest part where love resides. Thank you so much, Sandra! Your art makes us feel divinity while allowing us to embrace our humanity.

Once again, you have opened up your doors and invited us to another soulful journey.

Soul Friends, an oil painting by Sandra Torrijos.

Soul Friends, an oil painting by Sandra Torrijos.

Cocina Juan is located in 100 Maginhawa Street, Teachers Village Quezon City.

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This is not a paid blog. (I do not ask for any donation but I hope you can plant a tree on your birthday/s.)

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Sandra Torrijos gives us her arts once again (view her works at the German Club)

(Please visit the German Club and view the works of Ms. Sandra Torrijos, a feminist-artist and a Pinay expat who is based in Germany for half of the year. I promised to blog about her show but I was not able to bring a camera when I went there so I had decided to wait. Meanwhile, I have upcoming travels so I think it is better to simply repost my February 20, 2010 blog in the old site so I can share with you some musings about arts and friendships, two things where Sandra is very good at. Please scroll below for the address of the German Club. The show ends on December 2 so please drop by soon!)

When I see works of arts, I feel divinity.  Creative works emerge from the depth and mystery of the human mind (and soul), which are anchored in the divine. We are all connected to this source of light, the very core of our existence, and it is only through this light that we can create lasting masterpieces of arts. To create is to reach for the divine inside.

“Awit” by Sandra Torrijos (2011). One of her paintings shown in the exhibit titled, “EDSA: ano ngayon?”, a commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of EDSA Revolution. (Photo credits: Jinky Joan Jorgio)

Arts, for others, is an expression of the soul. For some, it provides a link among diverse communities and different generations. For others, it is a continuing journey.

I cannot remember how my love affair with the arts began. As far as I can recall, I was not even in school yet when I started drawing stick figures and flowers, mountains and houses, the sun and the moon. I guess it was my Tito Buboy (Harven), Dad’s youngest brother who inspired me. He was a very good artist. He can sketch a person’s face with very close resemblance. He can paint beautiful landscapes in just a couple of hours. And so I tried to emulate this great artist. In my young mind, I had imagined that I can someday be like him. When he passed on, I grieved because I lost a very funny and kind uncle. I grieved, too, because I lost my first arts mentor.

“Pagkalinga” by Sandra Torrijos (2011), another painting now on exhibit at the “EDSA: ano ngayon”? (Photo credits: Jinky Joan Jorgio)

In the next ten years of my life, I sketched and painted. I knew I was somehow good at it because I even won drawing contests back when I was in grade school. However, the ‘busy-ness’ of life eventually caught up with me and I realized, one day, that all my pastel sticks, acrylic oils, and watercolors have either expired or dried up  without even being used. And then I entered college and even became busier. I did not try to draw again nor found the time for it. One day, as I passed by a gallery inside a mall, I began regretting that I did not continue the “passion.” I thought I had somehow lost “it”, lost a part of my childhood.

In 2003, I mustered enough courage to paint again. I decided to enroll in a painting workshop under the renowned feminist artist, Sandra Torrijos, with my close friend, Mar-vic (Cagurangan-Palmertree), and this decision started another journey into the arts. Sandra said it is not possible to lose “it”. It is always there, inside of us. We just have to look for it again, summon it to come alive again. And she was right. Before long, I was again holding pencils, colors, and acrylic oil, happy to be reunited with that part of myself that somehow “slept” for a while. Strangely, I lost many of my works. I had been moving around a lot the past 10 years of my life. Perhaps, they got lost while I moved apartments and traveled…perhaps they simply disappeared?

“Lagas” by Sandra Torrijos (2011), was also part of the exhibit, “EDSA: ano ngayon?” (Photo credits: Jinky Joan Jorgio)

Just like many things that we somehow forget or lose track of, some of my works eventually faded away. Is it time to create again?
Last week, Mar-vic (who, incidentally, has taken up painting more seriously the past years) and I had a much-longed-for reunion with our mentor and inspiration, Sandra. Mar-vic is based in Guam these days while Sandra is now a resident of Germany so it was actually serendipitous that both are here in the Philippines at the same time. It was a beautiful evening of kumustahan, conversations, musings, and reflections.  “How old have we become!”, we amusingly remarked as we sipped our ice-cold beers, discussing our lives, choices, politics, men, travels, and food (not necessarily in that order). Indeed, it had been seven years since we last saw her.

However, the seven years apart somehow did not matter. We talked as if it was just yesterday when we had the art classes and conversations with her. I felt so much at home. Perhaps, such is another testimony to the beauty of the arts. It draws people together in mysterious ways, as if sharing a pact, so that distance and time apart do not matter anymore. It is as if a silent bond was forged, beyond what can be fully understood.

And so, that evening, I promised myself to continue retracing my path.

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Sandra Torrijos: Pinay in Duesseldorf

A One-Woman Show

German Club Manila
Opening Night: Nov. 10, 6:30pm
Penthouse of Eurovilla II Bldg.
118 V.A. Rufino St. Legaspi Village, Mkti.
Exhibit runs until Dec. 2, 2011
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Here are some of my old sketches. :)

Mountains and a fence. One of my old sketches (2002), drawn from a picture in in a practice book on drawing.

A stone bridge. One of my old sketches (2002), based on a picture from a practice book on drawing.

Rivers. One of my old sketches (2002), drawn from a picture in a practice book on drawing.

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This is not a paid blog.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin