Artist and teacher John Paul “Lakan” Olivares publishes Lakbay ng Lakan, a blog documenting cultural treasures waiting to be discovered in exploring the urban wasteland of Metro Manila. He has a new series of blog posts featuring Erehwon Center for the Arts. In his words:
Hidden between middle-class subdivisions and squatter shanties of the Old Balara District, at the western side of Commonwealth Avenue, is the Erehwon Center of the Arts. It is curious to find such a fledgling art hub is situated in the middle of “nowhere”, which can stand as the ananym of name Erehwon. Some may surmise that the art center may be a mythical land (and why not?), such as the “Erehwon”, written by Samuel Butler (1835-1902), in 1872. However, the name “Erehwon” was coined as an ananym for “Here Now!”, which meant that this is the place and time where new ideas and activities will shape and arise.
Founded in 2012 by businessman and art collector Rafael Rivera Benitez (born 1953), the Erehwon Art Center was first a family owned plant for baked goods, until it shut down due to a workers’ strike in the late 2000s. Searching for a new use for the large compound, artist friends convinced Mr. Benitez to put up an artist’s center, while banking on the future commercial and infrastructure developments along Commonwealth Avenue will boost the commercial sustainability of the center. So in October 2012, the Erehwon Art Center was officially launched.
You can read the rest of the Erehwon feature here on his blog. Lakan’s report of his exploration of Erehwon Center for the Arts is divided into three parts, all of which are available online.
Part 1: The Dream offers an introduction to Erehwon and focuses on the main building that used to be a baked goods factory.
Part 2: The Collections Tour explores the art collections and changing exhibitions to be found at the center.
Part 3: The Art of Storytelling takes a detailed look at Erehwon’s special permanent exhibition dedicated to the esteemed Nick Joaquin, National Artist for Literature.