Sunday, September 26, 2010

Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary Tour: The Art Gallery

Done with the garden and the cages, Osman led us to a what looked like a concrete bodega. When he opened the metal door, voila, it revealed the “art” side in this sanctuary! Specifically, this is a showcase of the artist in Julian N. Jumalon! Fronting the door were some literature, awards, trophies that the late professor has earned. There are some sculptures too and it was explained to us that Julian Jumalon was also into this kind of art.

But the showcase of the gallery that is the entire wall of this circular concrete hut are those framed artworks of the late Julian Jumalon. Thats two rows or levels all over the circular wall. Wow. Sadly, there is big signage that taking pictures is absolutely not allowed, so I heeded.

When we rounded the paintings, Osman would tell us the circumstances about each work. Our eyes widened to the max when in front of what looked like duplicate paintings it was explained to us that one was in watercolor while the other was a mosaic made of butterfly wings. OMG! Looking closely, the “shreds” were still vividly obvious parts of butterfly wings but from a distance, the whole thing really looked like it was a painting. To say colorful is an outright disrespect to the artist, I must say. Those are exemplary works of art! Talent at its best.

Osman told us that his father did about 16 such mosaics but only 11 remain. And interestingly, these framed mosaics are hung with all the other paintings of his father in various media so its is not easy to point where these eleven mosaics are. You have to have a good trained butterfly loving eyes to do it hehe. But he showed them to us one after the other. I like the Jose Rizal portrait. Some of the purple bands in butterflies like the one I just released at the cage earlier make Rizal’s coat glitter! But there was no duplicate painting of Rizal in oil or watercolor, so I asked where it was. Osman told us the source of that portrait was a small picture or drawing of Rizal from a book or somewhere else. His father just made this mosaic bigger but to scale. OMG really!

The other visitors asked where his father got all those butterfly wings in all the hues and shades that he needed. Ah we were told that Julian Jumalon constantly interacted with fellow butterfly enthusiasts around the world telling them to send him all their unusable insect wings. Osman says that his father even told some of his colleagues abroad to send in the “wings only” that they had in exchange for a whole butterfly specimen of the same kind. Some of these were actually museums that did not have whole specimens but just fragments of wings. And the dear Jumalon who had already had his extensive collection was more than willing to share what he had.

I asked that if there were 16 mosaics and just 11 were in the gallery, where did the other 5 go? He said some were bought by wealthy Cebuano families, some were given by the old Jumalon as gifts to his fellow art and butterfly enthusiasts. Lucky them am sure, since this kind of mosaic is unique as only Julian Jumalon did them at the time. Ah, am not even sure if I heard Osman say there is anyone alive now who does the same thing with butterfly wings too! I think none, except probably, Osman. Him?

Now now, there are interesting trivia, even dramatic if you will. Like? Here’s one: his father still painted and made mosaics even until near his time of death. Two of those artworks a painting and a mosaic, now proudly framed on the walls were still actually unfinished but he called on his son (Osman) to make sure they are finished as he could not any more do them. Ahhh…. how sad. But Osman stood up to the challenge and recently finished them after many years! Which artworks are those? Ah, am not telling! Go there and ask him yourself he hehe he he!

About Osman
I was so fascinated at his knowledge down to the finest details of whatever was being discussed. He knew scientific names. He knew how everything butterfly worked and he was just full of knowledge about everything he was showing us. There were many instances I caught that he was telling us and how he was saying them was not just a dialogue of a very well trained and experienced tour guide. He was more! Example: the chemical composition of the butterfly scale or the elements involved in our body’s reaction to the caterpillar spines. They were too specific and too clear for a mere tour guide to bother about. That too, won’t normally be in the realm of thought of just the son of the artist/hobbyist/scientist. Anak lang sya!

Well, there were indicators Osman was really also in the know and a bit took after his father’s interests since as he toured us, there were times he mentioned “during my talk in Australia” and “I myself have tested that” and "I help collectors and museums". That to me indicated that he himself is now a resource on such things butterfly.

Still I got curious but could not directly ask him “who are you really?” while he conducted our tour. How could I ask him to tell us about his curriculum vitae as he annotated our tour hehe! So on arriving home, as I now write these articles, I keep checking on the web if there was anything I could get about him. There were at least two leads: 1) he was the son of Julian Jumalon – because he said “my father” many times during the tour and 2) his name was Osman when he told us that one butterfly’s scientific name was coined by his father to include his name. And look what I have just stumbled upon…

My/Our tour guide Osman, was/is actually Julian A. Jumalon, Jr. – a zoologist, entomologist, professor and curator of the Jumalon Butterfly Collection! My goodness! So that explains it! That was why he is too knowledgeable and could explain everything to us. I’ll bet he is even more knowledgeable on butterfly things now than his father who was “just” a hobbyist turned world renowned lepidopterist! Then again, zoologist and professor as he is, Osman the scientist was able to finish the lepido-mosaic that his father (before his death) told him to finish! Thus we can say, he too have taken on the artistic side of his father. So, the original Julian Jumalon actually lives on, in Junior - and that's a.k.a Osman Jumalon!

I am so honored!

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