Miss X; Sharon Atillo On Her Role As Mother Hen of Manila’s Most Important Art Enclave To Date
Sharon Atillo, above, shot at TodayXFuture / Spring 2012
The last time we blogged about Cubao X, Manila’s destination Art Enclave, we reported that despite rumours of its closure, the arts and design ‘hood located in Cubao’s Expo district, was indeed still going strong, even with the establishment of other similar art clusters like The Collective and Ronac Art Center.
Cubao X, Art District of Design Studios and Cafes.
We since visited Cubao X in the Spring of this year to see what was up at the greatest art enclave in Asia. At the visit, we were treated to a home cooked dinner and a chat with Sharon Atillo, artist, creative, all around ‘Mother Hen’ of this enclave, at her boutique/gallery/cafe, TodayXFuture, which celebrates its 4th year anniversary this month.
Outside TodayXFuture, a collaborative Studio/PopUp Shop/Exhibition Space/Cafe.
During another one of her weekly street parties at the end of Friday, we sat with Sharon and chatted about her busy life, schedule, and the roots of how all of “this” began, the hardships of an artist’s life and whether or not she aims to keep moving forward with her collaborative ventures and flexible creative space.
theWanderlister+ Asia INTERVIEW WITH SHARON ATILLO, PROPRIETOR AT TODAYxFUTURE / Spring 2012
W+: Sharon, how are you feeling now? Amidst all this.
SA: Ummm, thats always a hard question for me you know. I’m alright, okay, tired, restless, but doing good! All this at the same time haha… I guess as im sort of a multi tasker even my feelings multi-task as well!
Sharon at TodayXFuture.
W+: Wow the workspace is different again up here at TodayXFuture. Tell me… how many times a year do you change it? What all happens here?
SA: Yes it’s different again! So what happens there? Many things… We are a bar cafe, studio, and shop which showcases eclectic music genres, fashion, and different art forms via our themed days everyday. Like Mondays are called Misyonaryo Mondays (Soul/R&B), Tuesday is called Science Fiction (Music + Film), on Wednesday we host The Strict Rules of Polite Society playing Mod-Cosmo-Indie-Pop which alternates w/ Lipstick, a night with only all girl dj’s, and Thursdays are for Laboratory (Electro-Dance-Pop), and the weekends we keep free for big events or otherwise its a regular weekend with guest DJ’s.
Exhibition at TodayxFuture.
The Store is open daily or by request. We carry the following designers and brands; Geoff Gonzales, Will Mateo, RCXY, PROUD RACE, Gian Romano, LOTHO, Melvin Mojica, OS ACCESSORIES. And in addition we also carry a variety of other items such as vintage books, records, furniture, and various home knick knacks as well.
The Shop at TodayXFuture.
Bags by Melvin Mojica in collaboration with Koko Gonzales.
Pieces by Mike Lavarez.
For the gallery, we host the Art Wall which we change every few months. Currently we’re exhibiting the works of Brad Villalon* and we have a LOMO Show planned in the next few months. (*As of date of interview.)
Brad Villalon Exhibition at Art Wall, TodayXFuture.
Vito Selma chair (restored) and Low White Table designed by Samantha Samonte.
A chair designed and reconstructed by Sharon Atillo.
Redesigned and Stripped, vintage metal catalogue drawer table by Sharon Atillo.
W+: Congratulations on TodayXFuture celebrating its 4th Year Anniversary. Now tell us about Cubao X where the TxF is located, what is Cubao X all about? And why do people tend to gravitate here? And how has it changed since you guys moved in?
SA: What is Cubao X all about? Why do people tend to gravitate here on weekends? My first answer would be I DON’T KNOW haha. And gravitate is the right word. Like I wonder why the hell do i keep coming back to this place!
Okay seriously, Cubao X is a strip of shops that used to be called the Marikina Shoe Expo and I heard it was established by Imelda Marcos during her time of reign as First lady in the 1980s (with the many many shoes? lol ) and all the shops were then ALL shoe shops.
Later on obviously this has changed to be how it is now though a few of the shoe shops have stayed, different establishments have cropped up such as antique and second hand shops, an Itallian restaurant, a Filipino restaurant, specialty shops such as the comic book shop across the street, a flower shop, a hair salon, the Lotto enclave, a health shop, a pharmacy, and now the bar across the street called Fred’s… and just recently a Cigar place just opened.
Fred’s, across the lane, has inventive cocktails by Derek (their owner, top photo) and Photography exhibits.
Since i can only speak for myself really my guess is that people like us gravitate towards Cubao X because the vibe is very laid back, relatively unpretentious depending on what you are not pretending to be, and the people are REAL well I guess I think I hope so haha unlike the Malls there’s not too much in your face SELLING there’s just us and what we like and that we hope you like what we like to buy. We like everyone to just enjoy themselves, eat, drink, dance and what have you.
W+: What is the toughest thing about running an art enclave in Manila? And has the government and media been supportive? Who are the famous arists and performers who got their start here?
SA: The toughest thing about TodayXFuture? Ahhh the logistics of course which is why they call it work. There’s some play, but mostly its work. The Government? What government? As for the media, we’ve gotten a few magazine and newspaper features.
Friday street parties spill from one bar to another.
In terms of artists, instead of “famous”, I would say a few of them have made a name for themselves starting here and represent quite different fields… of the top of my head, besides the guys I’ve already mentioned, there’s Marvin Tojos, Ge Mappa, and Mike Lavarez. Some started somewhere else, but TodayXFuture has been a very supportive platform for these artists to shine though. Others include The Pantry Monsters, Nixon Marquez, Tong Yangco, and Roman Rivierre. An unusual but great mix of fashion, music, and art backgrounds and practice.
The “who’s who” of Manila’s creative scene can be found here any point in time every week.
W+: Do you know that people call you the “Mother Hen” around here? What do you think about that?
SA: Haha Is that a fair moniker? Hahahaha sure why not?! Mothering is FUN. Well basically it’s not all play, thats why i’m utterly grateful for my business partners, Leah (Castaneda) and the staff, as well as DJ’s who spin for us every night… of which without them there is no TodayxFuture.
Sharon in her cafe/bar space with artist, Fernando Escora (left), Chie Castaneda (centre), and Diego Castillo (right), DJ’s.
W+: How long will you keep running this crazy show?
SA: I dont know, until I feel like it! I’ve been getting crazy allergies lately, is this a sign?
My meal with Sharon… she made Grilled Pork Belly, mashed potatoes, corn, and papad chips with spicy chicken.
Cocktails at Fred’s… this one a Mango Margarita!
… and a Bailey’s Rum Whisky Coffee Concoction…
SPOTTED: Fashion Designer and “It” Boy, Mike Lavarez
Stylist and Fashion Show Director, Melvin Mojica. Standing in front of his “shoe bags” in collaboration with Koko Gonzales.
The duo behind OS ACCESSORIES, AJ Amandac (left) and Paul Jatayna (right).
Hat from OS ACCESSORIES. #iWant.
Mike Lavarez with Blogger and All-Around Fashion Guru, Thysz Estrada.
Earlier that night we began our adventure at BLANC Gallery with Sharon Atillo as we SPOTTED, artist Fernando Escora with mixed-media artist, Nikki Luna.
Agnes from Osage Gallery HK with their “Star”tist, Yason Banal, who apparently has a workspace at Cubao X now.
And back to Cubao X with Rik Rasos, one half of PROUDRACE. We featured them on the blog before and so did Surface ASIA Magazine.
Beyond the interview we found out that Sharon is not from Manila but from the province. Besides a “Mother Hen” to Cubao X, she’s actually a real proud mother to a beautiful daughter, and works hard at making ends meet with living a creative life working with fashion and art, and surrounding herself constantly and everyday with other like minded friends and collaborators. Heard this one before? Well with her Art Wall space covered in silver… I feel she’s channeling a bit of Andy Warhol who just celebrated his birthday, too last week… same as TodayxFuture.
Unfortunately due to one of the worst floodings Manila has ever seen, their birthday celebration had to be cancelled, but that said if you’re around the area, you will need to pass by Cubao X, to have coffee or a snack at TodayxFuture or Fred’s across the lane.
The future of Philippine design and art is rooted in these kinds of enclaves in Manila, of which Cubao X and TodayxFuture is really at the creative Ground Zero.
See how history is constantly being made… check them out when in Manila.