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DALI WAS ONLY No. 2 to Vicente Alvarez Dizon who won first prize for his painting, "After the Day's Toil" at the International Competition of Contemporary Art of 79 nations at the Golden Gate Exposition in 1939. French entry by Utrillo didn't even make it. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO


Missing Filipino masterpiece found at last

By Josie Dizon Henson
First Posted 01:51:00 10/07/2007

Filed Under: Arts, Culture & Entertainment

MANILA, Philippines -- After a decades-long search, the family of Vicente Alvarez Dizon has located his painting that won first place at an international competition in 1939 which included the works of Salvador Dali and Maurice Utrillo.

The late Dizon's masterpiece, "After the Day's Toil," which was last seen by the family in 1952 when it was transported to the country for the Philippine International Fair, is in the possession of Dr. Rogelio Pine, a Filipino cardiologist based in New Jersey.

Pine bought it in 1980 from Daniel Grossman of the Grossman Gallery, who in turn bought it from IBM New York when the company unloaded a number of paintings in the late 1970s.

Dizon, of the University of the Philippines' then School of Fine Arts, painted "After the Day's Toil" in 1936 as a graduation thesis during postgraduate scholarship studies at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

When he returned home, he settled in Malate, Manila, and continued to lecture at UP, the National Teachers' College, and other schools.

From 79 countries
In 1939, Thomas J. Watson, founder of International Business Machines (IBM), conceived the idea of holding an international art competition at the Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco, California.

He sent his representative, Kevin Mallen, to 79 countries all over the world to scout for entries.

In Manila, Mallen visited Dizon at his residence on 1111 A. Mabini Street, to take a look at "After the Day's Toil."

Mallen purchased the painting for IBM immediately after seeing it, and had it framed and shipped to the United States.

It was included in the International Competition on Contemporary Art of 79 Nations at the Golden Gate Exposition.

In that historic competition, "After the Day's Toil" won first place by popular vote. The entry of Spain by Dali won second place, and that of the United States won third.

Utrillo's entry did not win.

Pacific unity
The inscription on the winner's medal reads: "Unity of the Pacific nations is America's concern and responsibility. San Francisco stands at the doorway to the sea that roars upon the shores of all these nations; and so to the Golden Gate International Exposition I gladly entrust a solemn duty. May this, America's world's fair on the Pacific in 1939, truly serve all nations.--President Franklin D. Roosevelt"

The Golden Gate Exposition was held in celebration of San Francisco's two new bridges.

San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge were dedicated on Nov. 12, 1936, and May 27, 1937, respectively.

The exposition ran from Feb. 18 to Oct. 29 in 1939, and from May 25 to Sept. 29 in 1940.

Vicente Alvarez Dizon, son of Jose Sampedro Dizon of Bacolor, Pampanga, and Rosa Carlos Alvarez of Concepcion, Tarlac, was born in Malate on April 5, 1905.

The elder Dizon, an 1897 graduate of the University of Santo Tomas, was a landscape artist and botanist-agronomist at the Bureau of Agriculture.

In the course of his work, he was assigned to such places as Capas in Tarlac, Magalang in Pampanga, and Cabanatuan in Nueva Ecija.

The young Vicente had his early schooling at the Malate Primary School, and continued his intermediate studies in the towns where his father was assigned.

The father wanted his son to study medicine. The latter obeyed, and attended the National University College of Medicine in 1921-23.

Dizon later transferred to the UP School of Fine Arts, where he took a five-year course and graduated with an art diploma in 1928. After graduation, he became the first artist-lecturer of the Philippines.

He is among the first Filipinos to win important scholarships abroad, such as that awarded him by the Federal Schools of Art in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

On his own, he applied for, and was granted, a scholarship at Yale.

In 1936, during his stay at Yale, Dizon became the first Filipino to be elected one of the 12 members of the "Yale Phi Alpha." (Only 12 members were elected each year from more than 300 students.)

It was also at Yale that he painted "After the Day's Toil" as his thesis.

Because of his studiousness, Dizon was given assignments during summer. Thus, after only one-and-a-half (instead of three) years of study, he graduated on June 7, 1936, with a bachelor's degree in fine arts (with distinction).

He specialized in painting, mural decoration, general art education, composition, and museum administration.

Art education pioneer
On his return to his motherland, Dizon continued to teach, and came to be considered the pioneer of art education in the Philippines.

He introduced the art of finger painting, and was invited to lecture on and demonstrate the new medium and technique in Manila and Central Luzon.

He conducted the famous "Chalk Talk" lectures, where someone from the audience would be asked to draw a form or line on the blackboard, which he would then transform into a recognizable object or figure.

Dizon was a faculty member of the UP School of Fine Arts where he lectured on history of art (1940-47), and of the UP College of Education, where he also lectured on art and interior decoration (1946-47).

Likewise, he was an associate professor in painting and theory of arts.

In 1938, he was appointed member of the UP School of Fine Arts' alumni committee for reorganization. He was also an artist and historical consultant in the US Army, 5th Air Force Command at Clark Field (February to August 1945).

He was as well a full professor of art at the Mapua Institute of Technology (1937-41).

War paintings
During the war years, Dizon secretly started recording life in those difficult times.

He completed 30 colorful and dramatic war paintings, which he titled "From Japanese Invasion to American Liberation, As My Brush Saw It."

He also wrote two books--"Art Education and Appreciation," which saw publication, and "Living As An Art."

Dizon was married to Ma. Ines Lutgarda S. Henson of Angeles, Pampanga.

The union was blessed with four children--the twins Victor and Daniel, Luminoso and Josefina.

Daniel and Josefina (Josie) became professional artists.

Early in 1947, while in the process of reorganizing the UP School of Fine Arts, Dizon fell seriously ill.

He died on Oct. 19 of the same year at the young age of 42.

The author is the daughter of the artist Vicente Alvarez Dizon.

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