The two-storey house built in the ’50s at Lot 1890 along Vasquez St. in Malate was about to go through a grieving stage in every structure’s lifecycle—the part where it gets sold. It’s been through the same old stories as other ancient houses: The original owner dies, the kids migrate, and the house is left unoccupied.
But artist and gallerist Isa Lorenzo of Silverlens put a halt to that last part. Instead of giving the property away to a bunch of strangers, Lorenzo decided to keep her late aunt’s house and transform it into an art house.
It’s now called Calle Wright.
“It’s a hybrid between a gallery and a museum,” Lorenzo says, describing the exhibits that will be shown as “slow,” as they will run for three months. Right now, Never is a Promise by Manila-based artist Gary-Ross Pastrana and Heman Chong from Singapore is on-going.
The process of renovating the abode was also slow. “The idea was born about three years ago. We took our time kahit sobrang bagal. It was very much like slow food, slow design, slow everything,” says Lorenzo. The renovation of the house started the year after the conception of the idea for the house with the help of architect Ae Geli Pastrana and Lorenzo’s partner Rachel Rillo.
“We had to remove so many layers in the house, dirt, paint. We needed to scrub it clean to make it a blank slate. [In a way,] it was like an archeological exploration,” she says. The house built in 1956 has three rooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, and a backyard.
Included in Lorenzo’s idea of “slow” are some educational programs to be held in the house and a publication every after shows to document the exhibit and the artists. Soon, a room in the house will be turned into a library.
“The experience has been nice. It’s not driven by any commercial reason,” says Lorenzo. They’ve put a budget for it, yes, but that’s it. “It truly is a playground for artists.”
One of the interesting things for the shows, too, is that the artists on show will be the ones to choose the next two. Ideally, the two live in different places—north and south of the metro, or even abroad—to make the exchange and collaboration more amusing.
The house is relatively small for art pieces but actually big enough to contain the artists’ own gigantic worlds. “When you go through the house, feel the art, and experience it, the fact that it allows you so many intimate spaces, that’s the great part of it,” says Lorenzo. “You’re able to find a spot and claim it.” Like extending the comforts of your own room.
“Calle Wright is for the movement towards slowing things down and taking your time, which I hope the people respond to,” says Lorenzo. In this fast-paced dreary life, Lorenzo can let go and breathe because it’s most likely that people will.
Calle Wright. 1890 Vasquez St., Malate, Manila.
Friday to Sunday, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.