Moms and Dads

Martin and Barbie Almalbis-Honasan: When Art Meets Music

Artist Martin Honasan and his wife, musician Barbie Almalbis-Honasan recently teamed up for a series of works in an exhibit called  Un|Tethered.

Martin Honasan and Barbie Almalbis are successful in their respective ventures. As an artist, Martin has held several painting exhibits while Barbie has carved her niche as a singer-songwriter—with songs such as “Just a Smile,” “Torpe,” and “Tabing Ilog” under her belt, just to name a few.

But the two have worked on several projects, with the most recent works being showcased in an exhibit called Un|Tethered. Beyond their works as artists, however, Martin and Barbie are also partners in love and life as parents to their kids Noa Stina and Liam Israel.

Bringing together art and music

For their recent collaboration, Martin and Barbie explained how they came up with their inspiration for Un/Tethered.

“My studio, our home environment is almost ‘designed’ to allow for so many of these creative triggers that inform layers and layers of my work,” Martin said of the process.

“Like many of my artworks in the past, my paintings in Un/tethered are fruits of this process,” he added. “The colors and detailed density of each piece reminded me of foliage, a garden paradise. My wife had just read about a biblical passage about open spaces, freedom, and God’s provision so she decided to entitle the paintings Rehoboth, which means ‘broad places.'” 

Being together for 17 years, Barbie explained that when it comes to giving life to her husband’s works through music, it’s about seeing the story.

“We’ve done dozens of collaborative work together in music—we’ve written songs, jammed, and even produced an album. It’s always fun whenever Martin and I get to work together,” she explained. “We talk a lot about art, and through the years we’ve both had to learn to adjust to each other’s process.”

For the exhibit, Barbie said the challenge was the technology itself. “We’ve never done anything like this. It was our first foray into augmented reality and NFTs (non-fungible tokens),” she admitted.

As an artist, Martin knows the challenges, but for him, it all boils down to his tendencies. “I think the main struggle that overarches over all these obstacles is resisting my own tendency to look at the artistic landscape and see myself in a long queue of artists lining up to take hold of some kind of elusive prize that leads to fame, artistic genius, wealth, [and] peace.”

“Don’t get me wrong, [it] doesn’t hurt to be financially prosperous—nothing wrong with money—but I heard it said that when you chase it way too much, it starts growing wings, [and] it becomes a tiring pursuit,” he said.

On parenting and guiding their kids

Juggling a busy schedule of being a wife, mom, and musician can be daunting. Good thing Barbie has a lot of help from Martin when it comes to taking care of Noa and Liam.

“Throughout the years, we’ve both naturally fallen into specific tasks in the house based on our strengths. For example, when it comes to math-based tasks, I’m generally more at ease,” she shared. “Martin, on the other hand, generally handles teaching language, history, and theology. But we try to do our best to work as a team in all areas.” 

“As for the dynamics in our home, we’ve turned it into a place conducive to creating, having art materials and musical instruments around the house, and also doing our best to regulate screens and give them moments of boredom, which we think helps draw out creativity,” she added.

Martin admits that schedules can be tough but they try to make it work. “I guess the hardest to control [is having] erratic schedules since neither of us have regular nine-to-five jobs,” he explained. “From my end, it’s generally easier to establish studio routines, but I also need to adjust to work around my wife’s gig schedule.”

But even so, he makes family a priority. “I make it a point to accompany her, especially in out-of-town performances. We bring the kids with us whenever we can, but when we can’t, they spend time with my parents.”

Nurturing their kids’ talent

Being a family of artists, it is natural that their kids are gravitating towards the arts. The couple happily shared that Stina and Liam are interested in music.

“Stina plays the piano and has performed with her mommy for the first time this year. Stina is also a synesthete who can see colors that correspond to specific musical notes, for example, a ‘C’ is always white, ‘D’ brown,” Martin shared. “Liam recently started taking electric guitar lessons, but also loves building things like lego, puzzles, and models.”

And for the parents out there, who want to hone their kids’ art skills, here is what the couple has to say. “Nowadays it’s very easy to learn because we have so many resources online like YouTube and online tutorials. There are just so many musicians who teach on the side.”

More parents and their talks about art?

Crypto Art: Transforming Perspectives and Art Appreciation in Families
Jewelle Yeung and Olivia d’Aboville: The Canvas of Life
How a Children’s Illustrator Draws Out Creativity From Parenthood

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