|Photo by Rink.
Marconi Calindas is an accomplished Filipino painter, writer, singer and composer. His paintings are currently on display at Magnet, the gay-bi menâ€™s health and wellbeing hub in the Castro. Calindasâ€™ exhibition is entitled, Colors of Understanding: a Tribute to Courage and Strength. Calindas, born July 14, 1975, was a full-time reporter for four years for the Saipan Tribune, a daily newspaper in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan). He has chosen to focus his talents on his painting career. He has been called the "Britto of Micronesia," a moniker that describes his vibrant use of color and lines to convey his commitment to socially and environmentally relevant issues. He has relocated to San Francisco as an artist for Admaran International, Inc., a locally based company that promotes his artistic endeavors here in the US. He is currently collaborating on a children's book involving bullying and being different. Calindasâ€™ several exhibition venues include Billy De Frank LGBT Center San Jose (2010-2011) and the SF City Hall Office of the Supervisors. He has been selected to exhibit and facilitate an art workshop at the San Francisco childrenâ€™s museum, â€śZeum,â€ť for June 2012, which he dubbed â€śRainbow Connectionâ€ť in time for SF Pride month.
â€śMy art is a hodgepodge of vibrant colors to the point that people always mistakenly believe I have been painting on glass,â€ť he tells me. â€śThey say it has that stained glass look. I will definitely explore that, but I started with this style way back in college when I created hand-painted greeting cards on grass and rice papers.â€ť He immediately got positive feedback on his style and how he dealt with his subjects.
Then he started exploring big canvasses for his art. Eventually he began to create big pieces and joined art festivals, which eventually landed him over 20 commissioned paintings in the island and a clothing line with his art designs.
His inspiration, in general, is the people that he has met through the years. â€śI've been involved with the community back in the islands and here, heard and seen their experiences that brought ideas and the messages that I want to convey through my art,â€ť he says. For this particular collection at Magnet, he was inspired by the wellbeing center's pursuit that is to assist and provide strengths to the LGBTQ community members that are suffering from the illness or burden they carry. This collection also was inspired by a close friend who thought he had contracted the disease from someone who was irresponsible by not telling his sex partners that he had the disease, and yet continued to have casual sex without protection. â€śWe were devastated by the news, and my heart grieved because this friend is such a wonderful person and did not deserve it. Fortunately, he had quick medications for a month and tested negative, eventually.â€ť
Calindasâ€™ medium is acrylic paints on canvas. He started painting on skateboards and began to like the medium. â€śAs an artist, I am very, very moody when I begin my art piece,â€ť he confesses. â€śIt all starts from my head; then I grab my sketchbook; then doodle. Then I face my canvas, and that's where I begin. All in my head and heart.â€ť
His message to art viewers is that â€śthere is more to art than its aesthetic values, and that LGBTQ artists have more to offer in our community.â€ť
I ask him to pick five different pieces and talk about them. â€śBadlands San Franciscoâ€ť (two panels in acrylic on canvas) is his rendition and interpretation of the famed queer club Badlands on 18th and Castro Street, across from Magnet, based on his personal experience and observation of clubbing in the â€śGay Mecca.â€ť This piece was displayed in City Hall in 2010 for four months.
He explains â€śAngels of San Franciscoâ€ť (four panels), saying, â€śSan Francisco is one of the best cities to live in, if not the world but at least in the US. There are different colors of people that comprise the city. These people in this art include the lonely LGBTQ men and women, the hardworking women, the innocent yet vivacious children, and the broken homeless ones. San Franciscoâ€™s angels are just next to you. Reach out!â€ť
â€śA Long Time in the Darkâ€ť is elaborated upon, Calindas saying, â€śWhen one is fraught with worries and anxieties, and they are indeed hard to keep from within, he or she feels to be in his and her most dark place.â€ť
â€śWe feel our lives just ended. However, there is an angel to carry us and to help us through it. Remember, these angels are all around you.â€ť
For this collection, Calindas wants his viewers â€śto bring that sense of caring and understanding to our fellow LGBTQ community members that are in the dark predicament. That they need to be understood and cared for instead of walking away from them.â€ť He concludes, â€śIn general with my art, I want people to walk away with a smile.â€ť