They Call Her Toots



The Philippines has enjoyed a long tradition of producing outstanding art from gifted artisans who have achieved world renown such as 19th century classicists like Juan Luna, Damian Domingo, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo; 20th century ly-rical traditionalists such as Fernando Amorsolo and Carlos ‘Botong’ Francisco and modernists like Jose T. Joya, Benedicto ‘Bencab’ Cabrera and Lee Agui-naldo. In this new century, it comes to no surprise to find the inheritors of this long line of inspired artists who, now in the mid-30s and early-40s, are making their own mark in the world’s art scene.


Cristina ‘Toots’ Magsino, an internationally-recog-nized Asian woman artist from the Philippines is a New York-trained painter, printmaker and mixed media artisan. In a national art competition spon-sored by Carnegie Hall in Manhattan, her stunning abstract piece “Unveil”, won over some 800 other entries from all over the United States and was featured on the cover of this world-famous insti-tution’s Playbill for June 2007.


Toots completed her art instructions at The Art Students League of New York. Founded in 1875 by artists and for artists, the League has been instru-mental in shaping both America’s and the world’s legacy in the fine arts. Many renowned artists have honed their skills at the League, which is dedicated to sustaining the great tradition of training artists. Some of the prominent artists who have studied or taught at the Art Students League include giants of the 19th and 20th century art world such as Alexander Calder, Georgia O’Keefe, Jackson Pollock and Robert Rauschenberg.




As a still very much young 21st century artist, Toots has already mounted 10 solo exhibitions and has participated in more than 30 group shows in the US, Japan, Italy, Canada and the Philippines. The world she conjures in the im-agery of her art consists of fragmentary, shad-owy, ambiguous forms; the autobiographic markers of her personal and artistic develop-ment in a global city. They reveal as much as they conceal.


Toots has a particularly well-developed sympa-thy for her materials. She transforms shapes and objects to serve her pictorial goals. Like a true alchemist, she changes the mundane and the everyday into the profound and timeless.


Take for example one of her several pieces on exhibit called ‘Message in a Bottle’ (see image above, right). It is a 12- x 12-inch work created in 2008 ex-pressed as a collage using Japanese paper, Philippine postage stamps, silver leaf and tag assemblage with native straw on canvas. Toots’ inspiration for this evocative work arises from Martha Graham – the renowned and iconic American modern dance expressionist. The message in the bottle is Graham’s – which reads, “There is vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.”


Recently this year from 15-28 June 2011, Toots launched her latest solo exhibit called ‘Between Episodes’ at the Ayala Museum located in the premiere City of Makati in Metro Manila Philippines. This video, produced by Robert Suntay, captures a few informal scenes that were captured during the exhibit’s opening day. It was a resounding success!

Watch The Video

The artist Toots Magsino has also been featured in the community websites of Filipinos in Christchurch, Filipinos in Hamilton, Filipinos in Wellington, Bulwagan Foundation Trust, Filipino Artists in New Zealand, Inc. and the Society for Southeast Asian Com-munities, Inc.



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