Araceli Limcaco Dans

Lace and Legacy: Araceli Limcaco Dans (1929-2024)

Presidential Medal of Merit awardee Araceli Limcaco Dans leaves an artistic community bereft of her light yet prodigious touch

Words Judith A. Torres (Araceli Limcaco Dans)

Araceli Limcaco Dans
Detail of Burdado, Header: Calado on a Clothesline detail (1987),

Araceli Limcaco Dans, a renowned Filipino artist celebrated for her exquisite calado paintings, passed away on May 18, 2024, at the age of 95. Known affectionately as ‘Cheloy,’ Dans’ work often featured intricate lace patterns rendered in watercolor and acrylic, capturing the delicate beauty of Filipino heritage.

Her mentor was National Artist Fernando Amorsolo, who admitted her to the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts while she was still a high school senior. Because of her exceptional talent and advanced skills, Amorsolo placed her in senior classes from the beginning, enabling her to complete her studies in three years instead of four so she could begin her professional career without delay.

Born on December 9, 1929, in Manila, Araceli Dans leaves behind a legacy that includes numerous awards, such as the Centennial Award for Painting and Art Education from the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Mariang Maya Award for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Arts.

Burdado (2006),

Araceli Dans was married to Jose ‘Totoy’ Dans Jr., who served as the Minister of Transportation and Communications from 1979 to 1986. He was instrumental in the development of Manila’s Light Rail Transit (LRT) system in the Philippines. Together, they had ten children, several of whom have made notable contributions in their respective fields.

Dans held over 100 group and solo exhibitions in the Philippines and internationally. Her notable exhibitions include a solo show at the Ville Musée Fragonard in Grasse, France, in 1994, which received critical acclaim.

She was a pioneering educator who established the Fine Arts Department at the Philippine Women’s University. She also organized the Arts Education Program at the Ateneo de Manila Grade School and served as President of the UP College of Fine Arts Alumni Association. Additionally, from 1964 to 1968, she developed a series for Ateneo Educational Television aimed at educating grade school children in the arts.

Araceli Limcaco Dans
Calado on a Clothesline (1987),
Sumbreo ni Mang Temyong (1991), from the Don Eugenio “Geny” Lopez Jr. Collection; Right: Detail of Burdado

Dans mentored many young artists, imparting the wisdom and techniques she learned from her mentor, Amorsolo. Her dedication to teaching and mentoring helped shape the careers of numerous Filipino artists.

I met Tita Cheloy in the late 70s when I was a teenager singing for one of the bands that her son, Jose ‘Butch’ Dans III, managed. Our paths crossed several times at art exhibits when I served as BluPrint editor in the 2000s-2010s. She had a naughty sense of humor but was always kind. I chanced upon her once at Museo Orlina in Tagaytay. We admired a Ramon Orlina sculpture, a svelte, elongated bust with sweeping lines, and she remarked, “He ought to be a National Artist.” I never forgot that.

National Artist for Dance Leonor Orosa Goquingco once described Dans’ calado paintings as “perfection in itself, the epitome of elegance,” underscoring her work’s profound impact and lasting beauty. •


1 9 2 9 – 2 0 2 4

Sources: BusinessWorld Online, Tahanan Books, Manila Standard, and Lifestyle Asia

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *