First up was the young Jaime Ponce de Leon of Dumaguete City, who has transformed himself from an interior designer to an art collector, gallery owner, and proponent of the seasonal Leon Gallery auctions — which have been so successful albeit raising certain questions over the matter of starting bids. Jaime explained his side, how he had studied current auction practices in Europe and simply applied certain methods here, with the objective of helping Coming of age?raise the level of interest in the acquisition of Philippine art works by way of competitive bidding at formal auctions.The Leon Gallery Auctions have a distinguished predecessor in the Salcedo Auctions run by Richie Lerma, art scholar, critic and writer, who is also known as the curator of the Ateneo Art Gallery and the man behind the Ateneo Art Awards for up-and-coming Filipino artists.In the interest of fairness, as well as a continuing art education on our part, Trix and I subsequently invited Richie to also guest in our show. He raised his points about the matter of ludicrously low starting bids that entice aficionados to engage in auctions, and the possibility that failure to reach the actual minimum price for a “lot” as agreed upon by the artist and the auctioneer could lead to dsappointment on the part of a bidder — that is, when told that the gavel banging down on the last bid doesn’t necessarily mean acquisition on the last bidder’s part.
Well, it’s more complicated than that. But I don’t really want to get too deeply into these professional questions anent art auction practice, on what’s acceptable or not.Suffice it to say that our art market has turned into such a success story, for artists, collectors, sellers and buyers alike, that healthy competition is to be expected, not only between these current rivals whose businesses are both based in Makati City.Lerma’s Salcedo Auction House is located at Three Salcedo Place, 121 Tordesillas St. in Salcedo Village, while Leon Gallery is on the Ground Floor of Corinthian Plaza, 121 Paseo de Roxas in Legazpi Village.I say that for the nonce we should simply congratulate and cheer on these two gentlemen for their continuing advocacy and significant contributions to raising awareness and appreciation of Philippine art, let alone its acquisition, to the benefit of our dynamic artists.