Featured Artist Joey Manlapaz

Connection and isolation are themes in the intriguing portfolio of featured artist Joey Manlapaz. See more from this talented painter by visiting her website.


store window reflection


My name is Joey P. Mánlapaz and I was born in Quezon City in the tropical islands of the Philippines. As a young child, I took private art lessons under renowned master Diosdado Lorenzo, from whom I learned basic techniques in drawing and oil painting.


oil painting of a city building


My family immigrated to the United States when I was a young teen and we settled in Washington, DC to join the rest of my siblings already established in the area. I attended The George Washington University earning a BA in Fine Arts and Zoology (Pre-Medicine) and subsequently an MFA degree with a concentration in painting. While at GWU, my fascination for my newly adopted city deepened, influenced by Frank Wright, a renowned realist painter of 18th-19th century architecture of downtown DC. I realized that the endearing attachment I have for my new city developed out of my sadness from having been torn away from the city in which I was born and a topography that nurtured my earliest artistic sensibilities.


bagel shop


After graduate school, I decidedly chose cityscape as subject matter of my paintings. All throughout the 1990s, DC engaged in a major urban redevelopment plan that destroyed many of historic structures of Victorian and Federal architecture, continuously replacing these with high-rises of steel and glass that pervades the city today. I usually painted on site and it occurred to me that soon after I finished painting an old 19th century two-story building, the ever-ready wrecking ball was right behind me to demolish the same building. It became a game of who’ll get to the buildings first!


store window reflection


I use my own photographs as reference and paint in the photorealist tradition of New York artists Tom Blackwell and Richard Estes but I imbue my work with the deep psychological breadth of Edward Hopper, whose specialty was to capture the essence of loneliness and isolation.


store window reflection


The two new themes of my oil paintings continue my fascination with the different components of DC architectural landscape where I strive to describe it on a more humane level. One theme “Reflections” accentuate the crazy frenetic pulse of the city from the perspective of the city dweller far too busy and hurriedly sprinting to-and-from various destinations along city sidewalks. The large format (4’x5′) gives the viewer a sense of being in front of a glass-encased storefront window, mesmerized by all the blurred and disconnected images on the surface.


newspaper boxes


At close examination of the reflections, it seemed as if I was looking into someone’s eyes where I tried to make sense of what was before me. I then realized that the reflective glass served as metaphor into someone’s psychological interior. The fact that one cannot fully decipher all the shapes and forms on glass surface seemed to also hold true for a new friend who reveals only parts of themselves.


newspaper boxes


The past few years I have been reading on Zen philosophy — the concept of nothingness and ever present moment — and have also been practicing meditation to still my mind and quiet my soul. Consequently, “Sidewalks” is a series of oil paintings that capture newspaper stands and bicycles around the city, evidence of human consumption but completely without showing human figures.




Whereas Hopper graphically described isolation as two people trapped in an interior space, I try to portray emptiness and aloneness in an urban street setting by implementing strong saturated colors bathed in serene and diffused lighting and capturing the newspaper stands or bicycles as solitary entities left to their own devices.




  1. LOVE this artists work…it really does capture the lonely mood of urban life. I can definitely see Hoppers influence in his work. Just awesome!!

  2. I’ve enjoyed seeing this artist’s work for over 20 yrs & continue to be mesmerized by her talent.

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