by Mafelou C. Leagogo-Agriam
There is an Art Deck Gallery located below the John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University (JBLFMU) Maritime Museum. It’s an exhibit area dedicated to art works of the school’s alumni proficient in any form of arts. Currently on display at the Gallery, incidentally, are the seascape paintings of Jorg Dunton, a graduate of JBLFMU Molo.
Alongside the gallery is the air-conned Art Deck Cafe, a very prominent spot on the groundfloor of the JBLFMU Mother Foundation Building. It is probably the coziest place in the university’s sprawling compound for a reasonably-priced coffee and native delicacies while in leisurely chat with friends surrounded by lovely objets d’art that make for good conversation pieces. Old stools and low wooden tables give the coffeeshop’s interior an old-world Pinoy charm.
Have you noticed that galleries, museums, cathedrals and art cafes inspire people to speak in hushed tones? Perhaps the reason is because what can be seen there are the emotive and masterful strokes of genius minds and hands that leave the patrons in awe and wonder. The same ambiance permeates in the local art-filled coffee shop.
Inside the Art Deck Cafe are huge paintings prominently mounted on its concrete walls. The numerous art pieces of reputable local artists like PJ Zoluaga, Fred Orig, Liby Limoso, and the late Larry Dumagat, Sr. keep the eyes preoccupied
Equally conspicuous on the wall is an attractive painting in canvas executed by JBLFMU President Emeritus Dr. Mary Lou Lacson-Arcelo, no less. One may also find the works of Joar Unabia, the first alumnus artist featured in the Art Deck Gallery. And just below the stairs leading to the second floor is, for lack of a proper term, a striking floor mural also by Zoluaga.
On a different corner at the ground floor is a huge sculpture of a voluptuous woman in heavy marble, perched on a stand and chiseled by the deft hands of prolific sculptor Mark Harry Gonzalez. Slated to hold his third exhibit in Singapore on the last quarter of the year, Mark’s thick terracotta figures are also visibly displayed in this cafe.
Up on the second floor of the cafe, one is immediately captivated by the long wooden dining table with capiz shells as tabletop accents. Such an extraordinary product of the human hands! It can sit 10-12 people on the huge wooden chairs with “uway” seats and backrests.
Another most unusual decor is the breathtaking chandelier above the dining set. What’s awesome about it are the countless number of empty vintage perfume bottles of assorted colors, shapes and sizes, hanging like layered huge crystal drops. One presumes the scented bottles were once part of a woman’s large collection now put to better use.
The white walls in this part of the cafe are also adorned with more paintings. There are additional unique chairs and tables for coffee enthusiasts. Overhead, the capiz shell windows used to cover the ceiling lights are absolutely attractive!
By the way, small group meetings can be held in Art Deck Cafe. Perhaps your next cup of coffee or rendezvous should be done here.