Betsy Westendorp’s Life Passages in Art

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The Metropolitan Museum of Manila brings Betsy Westendorp’s artworks to a wider audience through an online retrospective exhibition titled “Passages: Celebrating the Artistic Journeys of Betsy Westendorp.”

The exhibit’s remote virtual opening, the first one ever held by the Met, was streamed via Zoom and Facebook live on January 29, 2021. It hosted by broadcaster Karen Davila.

Life Passages in Art

“Passages” celebrates the life and art of Betty Westendorp, a Spanish-born painter who made Manila her home when she married her Filipino-Spanish husband.

The retrospective features more than a hundred of the artist’s works from over a half-century, and mirrors her life journey in Spain and the Philippines. There are the minimalist formal portraits of members of the elite society, a few self-portraits, and more of the idyllic landscapes and seascapes, her signature beautiful floral paintings, and her ethereal, moody Atmosferografia cloud paintings.

3D Virtual Exhibit Tour

A highlight of the opening was a virtual 3D tour of the exhibit mounted at the Met Museum’s ground floor Tall Galleries.

Entrance to the exhibit
Emmanuel Minana, head of the Retrospective Executive Committee, guided viewers through the online exhibit.
A recreation of the artist’s home studio

View here the 3D virtual tour of Metropolitan Museum of Manila’s Betsy Westendorp retrospective:

Bringing Happiness in this Covid World

“I wish I could create more happiness to people through my paintings.”

– Betsy Westendorp, when asked about arts’ and artists’ place in the current Covid world
Betsy Westendorp, Carmen Brias and Karen Davila
Artist Betsy Westendorp and daughter Carmen Brias, interviewed by Karen Davila

Artworks that show the beauty around us, are what we need in this time of so much negativity and anxiety. We’ve been drowning in Covid pessimism for a year now. Seeing Ms. Westendorp’s paintings somehow lifts me up, tells me that there’s still so much beauty in this world to look forward to.

I can look at her floral paintings all day. But it would be much better to see the paintings in person, inside the gallery, instead of just seeing them online on a computer screen or mobile device screen. I’d like to see the paintings in their rich colors, see each brushstroke, be awed by the interplay of colors in the canvas, and wonder about the stories behind each painting.

The artist deep at work

For the “new normal,” museums are classified as non-essential businesses, and so are restricted from opening to the public. For now, exhibits will have to be done online.

These online exhibits should make art more accessible to the public. It should mean more people being able to see and appreciate more artists and their works. I wish more people would take the time to see art exhibits online to be inspired to create art or simply be inspired to create beauty in their own world. Especially now in our ugly Covid-enveloped world.

Watch the virtual opening reception of Passages via Facebook here:

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