The Doors of Pinto Art Museum (Part 1)

TEXT & PHOTO: Kaycie Gayle


‘Pintô’ is a Filipino word that literally means door which also suggests as a portal or an opening. When the door of a Filipino neurologist Dr. Joven Cuanang has been opened to a group of young artists, they found a sanctuary to develop and showcase their works and has opened more “doors” for them. Since the 1970s, Dr. Cuanang has been developing Silangan Gardens in his extensive Antipolo property in a hidden subdivision in Antipolo. The first structure to be built here is his house in 1975 where he retreats every weekend. From the 1990s, he has begun collecting art pieces, whereas initially, the acquisition of artworks began as support for the careers of the group of fine art students in the University of the Philippines called The Salingpusa. These young artists were attracted to an ecology foundation in Antipolo that was established to preserve the local waterfalls and conducted their weekend painting sessions here. Through their work in this place, the Salingpusas were introduced to Dr. Cuanang who decided to open his weekend house to these “striving artists” by hosting them for Sunday refreshments and drawing sessions in his garden. Hence, this has become their headquarters and a repository of art that even several of them took up residence here for over a decade. This place has seemed to become an artist haven which provided a relaxed and supportive environment to the artists. Moreover, learning about their struggles to find exhibition spaces, Dr. Cuanang expressed his desire to build a place where he could also exhibit his acquisitions and eventually, he built a museum to showcase his collection of the artists’ works. One from the original group of the young stalwarts whom Dr. Cuanang supported in his early career is Architect Antonio Leaño who has designed the Santorini-inspired structure that housed the art pieces. The first few galleries were built and stand at the patch of land located at the entrance, and from here, Pinto Art Gallery was opened in 2001. Meanwhile, in 2008, the work began on a bigger complex at the rear of the compound and still under Leaño’s design supervision. This expanded space which was used to be the Silangan Gardens was then renamed as Pinto Art Museum. This area has taken two years to complete and has been made consistent with the architectural style of the original Pinto Art Gallery though it has been designed as a network of interconnected galleries that provide more space to showcase the local artists’ craft with a fusion of different themes. In 2010, Pinto Art Museum has been opened to the public unveiling the collection of the Dr. Cuanang. Since then the collection has grown to also include other pieces of the subsequent generation of artists. Hence, through opening its door to the public, it has allowed more people to appreciate and value the local art industry.

1 pinto art museum - misswoman.coFacade of Pinto Art Museum


‘Pinto’ is an apt name for the museum that serves as a doorway to modern and contemporary arts in the country among art connoisseurs and ordinary people who visit to see the collection. Each onlooker is led to aesthetic consciousness and cultural awareness that bridges them toward the appreciation of the colorful world of Filipino contemporary art. Moreover, ‘Pinto’ reflects the many wide doors in the museum that leads to different galleries where one art space ushers you to another type of art.

2 pinto art museum - misswoman.coAged door at the Pinto Art Museum facade

As I alighted from the car, I was welcomed with the facade of the museum which looks like a long stretched of white-washed pueblo looking structure. On its center is an arched way entrance with iron gates that serves as the passageway to the museum and set above this portal is an antique bell. The entrance is simply adorned with stainless embossed letters that spell and bearing the name Pinto Art Museum and two pocket holes where clay jars are placed. The entrance is unassuming yet charming enough that even from its facade art begins.

As I entered the partially opened gate I know that I am about to see a picturesque surrounding since I am entering a gateway to a haven that has sustained a supportive environment among artists. As I step inside, my excitement escalates by having a glimpse of what is inside. But first I have to stop at the quaint ticket booth to pay for the entrance fee and get a guide map that is instantly provided by the receptionist upon payment.

3 pinto art museum - misswoman.coTicket booth

Passing along another wooden door, I was introduced to a sprawling compound filled with gardens and galleries. Being serenaded by relaxing instrumental music while walking through the pathways surrounded by lush landscaped gardens I have felt the serenity of the place. I was overwhelmed with so many picturesque spots and intricate art creations around even I was not inside the galleries yet. I was then caught in a dilemma of whether to snap pictures or take time to scrutinize each art piece. However, as much as I would like to leisurely stay in the garden foyer, I know I have so many galleries to explore since I am just starting with the entryway. Hence, I just allowed myself to have a visual feast and enjoy whatever I will see as I pass through it. Confused with where to start because I wanted to see all the beautifully handcrafted artworks and explore each nook and corners that the complex has to offer I have decided to enter a small iron gate that led me to what they call as the Upper Garden.

4 pinto art museum - misswoman.coGlimpse from the entrance

5 pinto art museum - misswoman.coSmall iron gate to upper gardens

Upper Gardens

This part of the compound offers a calm ambiance with its well-maintained garden. It’s setting sets your mood for art and nature appreciation. The grounds on this garden is carpeted with carabao grass and dotted on its side is the garden patio furniture ranging from chaise, chairs, and daybed that are all made of white wrought iron. All of which are properly placed on the shaded area as if inviting you to enjoy the open air ambiance, hence, tempting anyone to lounge for a while and marvel at the peaceful environment to relax. Situated on the ground is a garden basin with a sculpture of a lonely looking naked man who seemed to have just gotten out of the water. Meanwhile, located on the center of the garden is a pool and towards its rear part is another wrought iron bed with white cushion.

6 pinto art museum - misswoman.coUpper Garden’s chaise and garden set furniture

7 pinto art museum - misswoman.coA lonely man on a garden basin

8 pinto art museum - misswoman.coA beautiful turquoise ‘pinto’ facing the pool

9 pinto art museum - misswoman.coPool

10 pinto art museum - misswoman.coA wrought iron bed placed on the rear part of the upper garden

Serving as a backdrop to the pool is the white building with Spanish Eclectic Architecture with its brick roof and arched dark brown windows and doors.

11 pinto art museum - misswoman.coBrick roof and arched windows and doors

12 pinto art museum - misswoman.coSpanish Eclectic Architecture

Seeing a curve stair going to the roof deck of the structure has led me to a curiosity of what to see upstairs, hence I ascended through its staircase. Up the roof deck, I was welcomed again by different styles of wrought iron outdoor chairs, sofas and daybed. It seems that each corner may it be a hidden part of the compound calls for a relaxed way of spending time. It’s white baluster and balustrades serves as the fence of the roof deck while adding a charming aesthetic to it as well. Coming close to it has enabled me to have a view of the garden with the pool. On the other hand, as I walked towards its rear part, I have seen a window with antique wooden shutters and white curtains that provided me a peek of the garden and chapel view.

13 pinto art museum - misswoman.coWrought iron chairs at the roof deck

14 pinto art museum - misswoman.coSofa on the roof deck

15 pinto art museum - misswoman.coFour poster bed on the roof deck

16 pinto art museum - misswoman.coWhite balusters and balustrades

17 pinto art museum - misswoman.coSlim table with a wooden wheel made of Travieza wood 

18 pinto art museum - misswoman.coWindow offering a chapel view

Continue Reading
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. All expenses were shouldered by the author. All photos are from Kaycie Gayle


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