Islands Books and Artists
Newest Painter in Residence by
November 2, La Piccola-Italian Restaurant and Art Space in
Utila played host to Naomi's first art exhibition in the Bay
Islands. The event was attended by those interested in developing
Utila's burgeoning art scene. Twelve of her latest aquatic
inspired works were shown along with others in development.
Utila art collector Josiah Mackin allowed Naomi's work from
his private collection to be displayed.
La Piccola proprietor Kate Vigolo was delighted to host the
event: "I am so proud to be able to work with an artist
as talented as Naomi and am more than happy to continue to
display her work in La Piccola. I fully support the art scene
in Utila and encourage any artist to come and display their
work in our Art Space."
Naomi's work continues to be popular. She sold three paintings
in the week prior to the exhibition and has been commissioned
to paint four other pieces. "Her style is unique. It's
exciting to have new talent on the islands," said Ainhoa
Bressers, a local business woman.
"My husband and I are 100% behind developing talent and
hope that artists new and established can come together to
create new opportunities," said diving instructor and
property developer Sarah Dowdall.
Looking to the future, Naomi plans to move to Roatan in February
where she is hoping to meet with other local artists and open
her own gallery. "Having been inspired by life in Utila
for the last year I know that the next move to Roatan will
bring more inspiration and a continued love affair with the
Bay Islands," says Naomi.
Naomi Gittoes and Kate Vigolo at the exhibit
Bay Islands have always attracted those with a creative nature
and Naomi Gittoes is the latest artist to share her work on
the islands. Naomi is an Australian artist whose work is well
known in her home country. She has travelled widely working
as a fashion stylist, designer, art director, model and film
In February Naomi moved to Utila to train as a Dive Master
and became enamored with the island. Using the underwater
world as her inspiration, Naomi developed an aquatic collection
using her signature style. Her "The Epiphany Collection"
explores the meaning of life and includes abstract oceanic
inspired visions, dreamlike figurative works and others that
are simply the artist at play on the canvas. "Once I
get the first outlines done I can calmly paint the rest and
it evolves as it goes. I want to think I am allowing people
into an experience like diving into the ocean, but here I
ask them to plunge with me into the creative imagination,"
Emerging Art Scene
By Jennifer Mathews
in Roatan Flourish as Both Local and Non Local Artisans Join
show was organized by Adam Hunt of Rusty Fish Roatan. A self-taught
artist, Adam's art is made of recycled materials found on
Roatan, mainly discarded sheet metal hammered out, cut into
island-inspired shapes, and brightly painted and varnished.
Hunt's opinion, there is no reason that souvenirs sold at
the cruise ship docks should be primarily imported, thus sending
tourist dollars to overseas artists and producers. "If
we work together through network, workshop and cooperative
arrangement, then Roatan can turn the current souvenir situation
on its head. Roatan can not only produce its own souvenirs
right here for local trade but can also export to cater to
has built a workshop in which he taught two local artisans
the trade of producing souvenirs using his techniques and
recycled materials. These artists are now creating enough
income to support their families.
a different part of Roatan, Waves of Art Gallery in West End
hosted an art show opening on April 29, for César Román
Murillo Valladares. The Tegucigalpa native is a watercolorist
who specializes in portraits. Educated at the National School
of Fine Arts in Tegucigalpa, he now gives drawing and painting
Thursday, May 6, and art show at Soothe Your Soul in French
Harbour displayed the watercolor creations of Cynthia Parchment.
A watercolor artist specializing in Caribbean island scenes
and stills, Parchment is also a mentor and teacher of fine
arts. Living on Roatan since March of 1997, she considers
living and painting on Roatan to be a "special gift."
With a dual purpose, the art show commemorated the expansion
of Soothe Your Soul to a Holistic Medical Center and Spa with
the addition of Dr. Fabian Vallejo, MD and Chinese Medicine
Tim Blanton Production at the Roatan Art Show at the Oasis
past month saw a veritable explosion of art on the island
of Roatan. Three shows took precedent through the month, displaying
the art of eleven local artists. Each show had its individual
purpose, contributing to the blossoming greater community
that is the Bay Islands artisans.
reveals an increased value of artisans in the area, and opens
a conversation between artists and the community. It raises
the bar on the quality of art in the Bay Islands and displays
a change in the tides of the art community, featuring new
trends such as recycled art, and teaching locals to produce
largest exhibition was held on May 17th at the Oasis bar in
Sandy Bay. The show brought together nine artists in an effort
to rally support for locally made Roatan crafts, facilitate
networking amongst the artist community, and build a campaign
to promote local arts. The event is slated to take place once
every three or four months, and is expected to expand. The
next exhibition is set for Wednesday, Aug 11, at Oasis at
at the show were: Bob Cowan, bracelets; Debbie Cowan, island
photography; Chucho, jewellery and crafts; Tim Blanton, cinematography;
Kristen Haynes, island scene drawings; Adam Hunt, recycled
metal; Philip Sampson, stone carvings; Denia Cardona, bag
designer; and Blue Abele, leather bags and jewellery.
Bunker of ArtBy
Transplant Argentinean Painter Gives Utila a Painting Lesson
for Patricia is an opportunity to look at yourself from a distance,
to analyze yourself and to look at a problem from a distance.
Her paintings are full of texture, sometime projecting inches
above the canvas. Patricia uses polyurethane foam and sand,
to create sculpture-like paintings. Other canvases are semi-transparent,
Every month Patricia tries to launch a social activity that
brings people to her space and gets them excited about art.
Patricia also offers art classes to locals and tourists with
students as young as four and as old as 40.
Patricia pieces sell for anywhere between $13 and $500 dollars.
"Painting is for everyday, it should be accessible and
affordable," says Patricia. "It is not a solemn thing
[painting]." The pieces cover almost every vertical square
inch of the space and several sculptures are placed outside
the gallery on Utila's main street.
in November, Patricia Suarez turned a main street baleada stand
turned into an art gallery few people were paying attention.
Seven months later the three by three meter space, has become
Utila's premiere art gallery.
Patricia and her husband Horacio Rebagliati came to Utila after
scouring Honduras for a suitable place to settle down. The visited
Tela, Trujillo, Guanaja, but when Patricia got off the afternoon
ferry "this island it just felt like home."
Patricia begun painting at the age of six, thanks to a Municipal
art program in Buenos Aires. "I used to go to museums and
touch everything," says Patricia, a trained and long-time
practicing psychologist who transitioned into a full time, self-supporting
artist. In 1990s she studied with Felipe Noe and Gorrianene,
Argentina's premiere modern painters. In 1992 she had her first
gallery showing in Buenos Aires and in 2003 moved to Miami where
she continued to paint, but found the art scene competitive.
in Need By
Young Sandy Bay Artist Hits a High Note With Her New CD
Halcie James is a talented young singer and performer from
Sandy Bay. Two years ago Halcie released her debut album:
"Halcie James Christmas Collection." This summer
she released her second CD: "I Need You," a compilation
of Spanish and English religious songs.
The religious theme almost gets lost in Halcie's voice. Her
velvety voice with her luscious, rich tone is almost too riveting
for this type of CD. Nine of Halcie's songs are classic gospel
and religious songs. Her one original song, entitled "I
Need You," is a melancholic call to Christ.
So far Halcie has written 36 songs and "I Need You"
gives us just a hint of her writing ability. Playing on the
keyboard Halcie is her own orchestra band. She uses the keyboard
to play bass and piano solos. She also plays bass and is her
own backup singer. Halcie does it all and does it well.
Halcie is not only a singer, but also works as a community
organizer in Oak Ridge's Pandy Town neighborhood. She teaches
young people to sing and play musical instruments.
The CD can be purchased at Bormack's store in French Harbour.
Halcie hopes to put the money from the sale of the CD towards
recording a third CD with all original text.
Yo, listen up.
This is a song inspired by the Lord to give Him glory and
give Him praise.
Lift Him up now!
Oh, come on. I need you, Lord.
Thank you, Jesus. Hey. Hey.
Oh. Oh. Listen what!
I need you, more than yesterday (more than yesterday)
I need you, in my heart always (my heart always)
I need you, more than words can say. I need you, I need you.
You are my sunshine through the rain (rain)
You are my laughter in my pain (pain),
You are the center of my life (ahhhh),
Lord, you are, you are, you are.
And I will always worship you (worship you)
From the bottom of my heart, I'll praise you.
I need you (I need you), I need you.
Known as Conk By
Patrick Bush is an energetic, youthful artist, songwriter
and producer who is attempting to create a musical identity
of the Bay Islanders. This lanky, tall 26-year-old was born
in Oak Ridge and has been living off-island for most of his
adult life. In early 2008 Patrick came back to Roatan to rediscover
his roots and reconnect with the community he grew up in.
Patrick graduated from Mazapan High School in La Ceiba, then
studied music technology at a Junior College in California.
"Conk," as Patrick calls himself, has been producing
music for the past four years.
"We have a whole number of issues we could be rapping
about: reef bleaching, immigration, poverty, HIV. We live
on an island paradise and we don't need to be rapping about
ghetto," says Patrick. "They are rapping about fake
diamonds in their ears when they live on Calle Ocho,"
says Patrick who has been trying to find a sound that is unique
to the islands and not a reproduction or an imitation of music
from the US or Jamaica.
starts off with recording raw sounds: voices of Roatan's "street
personalities," downloads beats and, along with his original
lyrics, mixes a sound that is not only original, but exemplifies
the Bay Islands. "I found the Bay Islands sound. It comes
from Jamaican dance hall and American Hip Hop," says Patrick
about his up-temp sound with a conga beat. "Music is a
powerful thing if you try calling out people."
All is not easy for the young artist. To support himself financially
Patrick is working as a school teacher at Sandy Bay Alternative
School. After hours he also works with young island artists
to produce their first songs and music CDs. "I want to
reach into the culture and bring out talent," says Patrick
about the 15 artists he helps mix and produce songs with at
his small apartment studio..
I lost, I don't Miss
first several years I was here, only my roommates knew I was
a musician. I was writing and playing at home but not in public.
When I began performing again, I was the only rock band on the
island for a six years span."
"I didn't market myself in the States after I moved here
but people started coming to me as a songwriter. I'm working
on songs this week for two emerging American artists."
This evidence of success is not lost on James.
What sparks Brion's interest these days is finding new talent
on the island, including Canario, a vocalist from Punta Gorda
for whom Brion has produced CD's and found an agent. His tracks
are on club play lists in Miami. "The sound is an edgy
Reggae sung in Spanish." Also catching his interest is
Shocking Tribe from Jonesville, consisting of three male rappers
and a female vocalist, and the Coxen Hole triplet of Little
"A guy came to town the other day who plays the saxophone.
We put together a jazz trio with bass and drums and played at
Le Bistro. It was cool to do something different. I do miss
having people to talk to about music."
Brion James and his band have found their new home at the Blue
Channel in West End. A light comes to his eye when he talks
about his plans to redecorate the venue and schedule talent
every night of the week.
"What I've lost by coming to the island, the high pressure,
competitive life, I don't miss. I'm retired. I play to entertain
people. I like to see people dancing and singing and having
a good time and I like to play my guitar."
It's hard not to see a correlation between the revolutionary
times in which Brion found his musical voice and the stage of
development on the island of Roatan. I asked Brion what advice
he has for people aspiring to get into the music business. "Play
music. Write music. Sing with your friends and have parties.
It grows from there. Have fun with it."
follows a life that included an appearance on the Ed Sullivan
show at age 12, world tours with famous musical acts, including
the Rolling Stones and David Bowie and a wall of gold and platinum
records? For Brion James
life on an island.
"I had lived out of a suitcase for years and was just ready
to be in one place," says James. When the band he toured
with, Dan Reed Network, disbanded, Brion moved from a horse
farm in Oregon to Los Angeles. He had been writing since his
teens and had nine completed songs in his catalog. Hendrix and
Santana were early influences. His acoustical guitar sound was
deemed too different and seemed unmarketable in the era of the
keyboard until Puffy heard Brion playing in the background during
a phone conversation. He sold all nine songs and the Brion James
sound was launched.
money started rolling in. "I knew I'd end up living in
L.A. with a huge mortgage and a Beemer if I didn't get out."
Brion started looking for his place in the world. Drawn to island
life he spent two years methodically giving Saint Marten, Hawaii
and Belize, among other places, a thirty-day trial. Enamored
with Belize, disappointment came in the form of a tropical storm
and the stark reality of the vulnerability of the low-lying
landscape. Preconceived notions kept him from considering Honduras
at first, but after hearing more about the island, James came
to Roatan in 1999. "I really liked the vibe here."
Using royalties, Brion bought some land, unpacked his suitcase
and settled in.
majority of Collins' thirty chapters are topical, rather than
chronological. On the one hand, this topical format left me
feeling disoriented regarding time lapses and progression. Perhaps
the author's story could have been more compelling and expeditious
with a more chronological organization.
On the other hand, however, Collins' topical chapters suit her
in-depth descriptions of various island characteristics, from
Guanajaños' convivial holiday celebrations to their complicated
rituals of shopping. Collins doesn't miss even the simplest
of observations: the islanders' unique "jutted jaw
pouted lips" way of pointing, the art of making cayucos,
the long-standing social codes between men and women (in which
casual conversation is a faux pas).
Though Collins left the States as a woman with a "tendency
toward reclusiveness" and with no "intention of discovering
[herself]," Guanaja does draw out a new awareness of self
and surroundings for her. She's soon joining in land crab hunts
for soup, swim-walking from her ocean house to a local hangout,
and delivering her famous mango pies around the island.
This "eccentric white woman" also seems to make her
mark on Guanaja. Collins certifies the first native-born woman
for diving, a radical concept which causes quite a scandal.
She even successfully coaxes her student out of the island-typical
jeans and t-shirt to go "naked," (i.e. in a bathing
suit), which she notices begins a "slow transition to a
more casual beach attitude."
Though far from being on the New York Times bestseller list,
A Gringa in Guanaja could definitely compliment a lazy afternoon
in a hammock, both for travel-worn Bay Islands visitors who
want to learn more about the history and culture of Guanaja,
and for native-born islanders who'd enjoy a few laughs over
a gringa's struggle to cope with what comes naturally for them.
From the back cover:
Ms. Sharon Collins is a marine ecologist, educated in Florida,
who enjoys diving on coral reefs and exploring lands and cultures
both familiar and foreign to her own. She currently finds herself
employed as a senior consultant for a private environmental
consulting firm in Central Florida.
Lee Collins writes A Gringa in Guanaja from the unique vantage
point of someone who, with much success, attempted "to
weave [herself] somewhat seamlessly into the island fabric"
of Guanaja in the late 80's to 90's. In this autobiographical
story, Collins, a marine ecologist from Florida with a "wandering
spirit," remembers Guanaja before the effects of Hurricane
Mitch and its subsequent rebuilding and technological additions.
Collins has barely padded down Guanaja's sandy paths or immersed
herself in its reef-flowering waters when she feels the island,
like a siren, seducing her. She emigrates within six months
of that first visit to thrust her roots down-or rather, to drive
piles into the ocean floor where she builds her one-room home.
Collins' story speeds through a short, sketchy marriage to an
islander which doesn't end without bloodshed. Then, settling
into a slower cadence, her narrative centers around both her
"indoctrination" to island life and her research for
a newly conceived Bay Islands marine reserve. Her passion for
marine ecology as well as an almost foolhardy sense of adventure
stand out in a story replete with a myriad of character-revealing
struggles. Among those struggles, she survives riots against
North Americans in Tegucigalpa, surf-riding escapades on stormy
seas and pirates who dislike foreigners.
about Roatan East End Life in 1960s and 1970s
the latter half, Brown says, "I was always afraid of boring
people with tales of derring-do, pirate treasure, death and
disaster, but the tales that intrigued [my friends in England]
the most were ones about the ghost I lived with on my pirate
fort." Brown's pirate fort happenings, however, lacked
sufficient plot and movement to successfully engage me in any
climax or resolution. I suspect it was my mutual love of and
struggles with Roatan that kept me reading to the end.
Nevertheless, throughout Roatan Odyssey Brown succeeds in painting
Roatan, and especially Port Royal, as an enticing, mysterious,
veneration-commanding destination. With an artist's eye, she
captures Roatan's sultry, temperamental personality, one moment
breathtakingly peaceful, the next harrowingly brutal-- a portrait
she augments with her own maps, illustrations and historical
Brown also succeeds in depicting herself, at least intermittently,
as spellbindingly as her environment and her duppy (ghost).
She captivates the reader from the first page as she wades down
her slippery submerged dock on Christmas Day to fetch a grouper
from her trap, tells her water-seeping dinghy it can finally
sink for all she cares, and dons a long pink skirt to play Bach
for the bats on an organ salvaged from a Flowers Bay church.
Brown's honest assessment of herself, her gullibility and culpability,
her judgments and fears, but also her daring, determination
and ingenuity-all of these coalesce into a presence which lingered
with me ghostlike long after the final pages of the book.
Anne Jennings Brown, now 76 years old, resides in Berkshire
with her husband Michael where, instead of lime-washing walls
in a bikini and black suede evening gloves, she continues her
painting, drawing and writing. They last visited the island
in 1991, but continue to keep in touch with the friends she
made in Roatan.
Roatan Odyssey, Anne Jennings Brown has written an engaging
memoir of her sojourn on Roatan during the 60's and 70's. Much
of her tale reads like an adventure novel--full of romance,
treasure hunting, treachery and murder.
Brown's story begins in England, where she meets and shortly
thereafter marries the handsome, treasure-hunting Texan Howard
Jennings. Brown sets off with Howard for Roatan with dreams
of an idyllic island experience and of striking it rich in Roatan's
historically pirate-pervaded Port Royal.
Brown finds her dreams swilling around her feet much like her
baggage does in their first dory ride. She soon realizes she's
on a "dizzying [rollercoaster] ride to financial ruin"
with a husband who turns out to be not only a master of "machinations
and perfidy," but also an admitted murderer. The author
proves that even privileged London socialites can possess surprising
temerity when she escapes a murder attempt by Howard on their
hunt for a lost Inca city in the Ecuadorian jungles. She further
demonstrates a previously unknown inner strength when she returns
to her now-derelict Port Royal home, believing that restoring
and selling it is her "passport to a new future in England."
solitary, almost marooned life in Port Royal comprises over
half the book and reads less as an adventure novel and more
as a journal. It consists of Brown's eulogy-like descriptions
of island friends, her myriad interactions with Roatan's wildlife
and weather, and her creative survival tactics. Running as an
undercurrent is Brown's internal quest for absolution and personal
significance, along with the constant "companionable and
easy presence of Moller," an eighteenth-century buccaneer
who dictates pronouncements to Brown, some resonant with esoteric
wisdom, others ringing of merciless scorn, even fury.
the truth! How many trips to Honduras did it take before you
started playing "spot the missionaries, the honeymooners,
the con artists, the "mochilleros"? And how long was
it before all of the above became "foreigners" to
us too, the objects of some amusement. Todd
is Evans' hero. He is a fairly young Gringo whose first encounter
with Roatan and its people came from a stint in the Peace Corps
several years ago. Now, he is returning to the Island because
he's bored with the work he's chosen for his career and is trying
to find some way to make it exciting again. Colleen, the beautiful
young heroine, comes from Scotland and is on Roatan because
she has inherited a lovely mountain top estate on this far away
island, a place she has never heard of before. The bad guy is
Charles Tegget, "a land pirate" with a smile that
charms anyone right out of all common sense. That is, unless
they catch a good look at his eyes, "the eyes of a stray
dog" with no warmth or compassion, only cold calculation.
Todd and Colleen arrive on Roatan just in time to get caught
up in Tegget's latest scheme, an attempt to steal a beautiful
beach property from the family who has owned it for over 150
years. Of course, Todd must save the property, win Colleen's
love, find the treasure and thwart Tegget in such a way that
the truly evil pirate never dares to set foot on Roatan ever
again. He does so with the help of a band of his island friends,
Tony, Sharella, Miss Catherine, Tim, Miss Katy, and Francisco,
an old "Turtle Mon" who sees into the Island's distant
past. Readers will have a great time guessing the real identities
of these people and many others who come and go while Todd and
Company and the Evil Men try to outwit each other.
The Judas Bird is jam-packed with fascinating pieces of history,
island lore, odd vocabulary and all of Roatan in its idiosyncratic
glory! Do you know that "Yabba Ding Ding" is actually
"Yappa Ding Ding" and is an old Garifuna expression
meaning "something worth less than nothing"? Do you
know what "dolla come circle" means? I suppose that
everyone but me knew that Coxen Hole itself was most probably
named after an infamous pirate, John Coxon, who spent many years
living on Roatan. (Until I read the book, I was under the impression
that the name was a kind of off-color, Island joke and I have
to say I'm a little sad, letting that idea go.)
In any case, the older people on Roatan won't ever have to worry
about its history and culture being forgotten. David Evans has
done a great job preserving it and serving it all up to us on
a really tempting platter. No matter how busy you are you'll
be glad you took the time to enjoy this book - whether you gulp
it down fast, or savor it slowly, a little bit at a time.
was a little scared when a friend of mine handed me The Judas
Bird by David K. Evans. After all, it weighs over three pounds
(I checked) and is almost 1,000 pages long. But my friend promised
me that it was a "roman a clef" (actually she said
no such thing but that's what she would have called it if she
was the kind of person who liked to throw around fancy French
phrases) and that I'd find all sorts of real people, people
who I know, inside that 3 pound, 972 page novel.
There truly is something for everyone in this treasure book:
intrigue, action, pirates, romance, comedy, mystery, history,
anthropology, good guys, bad guys, even socio-economic theory,
not to mention all your favorite restaurants: Gio's, Romeo's,
Que Tal Café. If you are an Islander, born and raised,
you'll laugh at Evans' dead-on descriptions of clueless tourists
wandering around getting sunburned, drinking margaritas and
stumbling back to their cruise ships at the end of the day.
You'll also recognize, and love, his beautiful word paintings
of your Island. Roatan's beaches, reefs, and sunsets, its curving
mountain roads, torrential rains and brilliant sun all come
to vivid life. You can decide for yourself how good a job Evans
does of duplicating the Island dialects - it sounds pretty exact
to me. He even duplicates the way many of you switch back and
forth from formal English to dialect in what to all of us who
speak only one, not very colorful, English, seems truly amazing!
If you're an Expat (from anywhere) living on one of The Bay
Islands, or on the mainland, you'll be tickled pink by the familiarity
of Evan's hero and heroine's experience at the TACA counters
and waiting rooms in Miami, and you will watch, with growing
amusement, their gradual acceptance of the completely insane
as completely normal.
Past in Utilas present
a young boy, Bill had often sat in the evenings in the semi-darkness
on the front porch of an elderly neighbor-the old man's features
lit by the soft, mellow glow of a kerosene lamp-and eagerly
listened while "Mister John" related the exciting
tale of murder and mayhem on the high seas. It
was then, long ago, that the author promised himself that someday
he would write down the tale for others. He now has kept this
promise and we his readers are his fortunate beneficiaries.
The spell-binding tale begins on the last of June, 1905, on
a balmy, dark night on Utila. With both skill and an obvious
love for the story itself, the author weaves a tight net that
snares his readers from the very beginning. Old Bay Island names
are sprinkled throughout, and the vanishing cultural ways of
the islands, common throughout most of the Caribbean in those
long-ago days of a century ago, along with dialogue rich in
Antillean expressions that one can still hear bits of in the
islands today, makes those of us familiar with The Bay Islands
feel as if we were there that dark night when the schooner Olympia
set sail on what was supposed to have been a calm, uneventful
voyage of but four hours to the larger, nearby island of Roatán.
What happened on that fateful voyage is the focus of Bill's
wonderfully crafted novel, and will leave his readers feeling
both elated and sad at the same time. They will find themselves
enduring the horrors and miseries that befall Miss Elsie Morgan,
heroine of the story, as she struggles and prays to survive
long enough to tell her story. Above all, they will rejoice
at the final outcome of a young woman's determined "struggle
against impossible odds".
This is a small book that you, the reader, will be sad to see
end. It will hold you in its grip from page one through its
Epilogue and the author's Final Note. Read and enjoy.
his debut novel "And the Sea Shall Hide Them", Mister
William (Bill) Jackson has delivered an exciting and well-written
account of a horrific maritime tragedy at sea in the western
Caribbean near the small tropical island of Utila. Bill Jackson's
book falls under the sub-genre
in which many (but not all) of the names of the novel's characters,
dates, and places are factual and accurate, and only the colorful
dialogue, thoughts, and the manner in which the various characters
interact have been fictionalized. In the Author's note Jackson
writes: "This is not necessarily only a story of murder-of
death. It is also, more importantly, a story of the human will
to live, to fight on and survive when all seems hopeless.
Bill Jackson, himself born on the island of Utila, had been
fascinated as a child by the exciting tale of the mysterious
vanishing of the island schooner Olympia, and what had happened
to all twelve people, both passengers and crew, on board.
roatan to sundance
feature film shot on the Bay Islands
writing the script in the fall of 2006, Tom Parish spent August
and September "keeping regular office hours" at West
End's Sundowner bar where he scouted for talent and people interested
in the project. In October Tom held a month-long workshop where
actors worked on their roles, developed background stories for
their roles and the crew polished their filming technique. During
November the movie was shot and now it has entered a post production
stage where scenes will be edited and music scores prepared
to produce a final product. The island premiere of "Roatan
Movie" is scheduled for June 2008.
Thirty five people involved in the "Roatan Movie"
worked for food and love of the project. All people involved
are signed up to receive a share in the potential profits the
movie would bring and have a chance of being spotted by Hollywood
The 30 shooting days produced 26 hours of footage, and the 110
scenes will be edited in post production into what looks like
a 110 minute movie. "It is a feature film and who knows
how far it can go," says Tom Parrish who plans to market
the movie to several distributors and submit the movie to three
festivals: Seattle, Sundance and Toronto.
While the authorities in La Ceiba and Roatan let the film crew
work undisturbed, it was the West End Marine Park that got involved
and prevented a scene where a main character drives a scooter
off a dock into Half Moon bay. Concern about spilling engine
oil into the water created a need for a scene re-write and,
according to Tom Parish, it all turned out for the best: "that
scene would be just over-the-top."
The 12 movie locations took the crew all over Roatan and La
Ceiba where they filmed on local buses, underwater, restaurants,
catamarans, bars and beaches. "Seeing something that existed
on a couple pages of a notebook a year earlier is incredible,"
says Jason Vickers, an actor in the movie, who moved to Roatan
from Seattle just to be a part of the project.
Lewis, bottom, an English singer, played the main role, a Don
Quijote character who fallows his ex girlfriend to Roatan, to
try to win her back.
First time ever, Roatan has become a venue of a feature movie:
a dark action comedy about the misadventures of a rejected boyfriend
and a dysfunctional American family vacationing on Roatan. Shot
with two high-definition digital cameras, the movie was filmed
in an improvisational style, with actors having general directions
about the scene, but coming-up with their own dialogue.
The script for "Roatan Movie" was written as a "love
project" by Tom and Pam Parrish, an American couple who
moved to Roatan two years ago. Prior to embarking on the Roatan
movie Tom Parrish had directed two short films and a 1999 feature
drama, "The Last Game," staring Joey Travolta, John
Travolta's older brother. As unconventional as it may seem,
dozens of independent shoe-string budget movies have succeeded
in attracting audiences and distributors and grossing big money.
The 1999 independent horror film Blair Witch Project grossed
has no shortage of aspiring movie actors, quirky personalities,
great movie locations and a welcoming attitude to new projects
and ideas. "From all the places I know this is the only
one where this project could have happened," says Tom Parish.
The technical crew had to buy or make their own technical equipment.
Acting like TV's Gilligan Island crew, the film staff improvised
and built lights, a soundboard and a dolly.
life philosophy has led him to meat and help many musicians
from South America. And that is how he learned his music sounds
and skills. In 1968 he contacted a group Bolivia Manta for whom
he organized a series of concerts. A few years later, with his
seven friends he started Apurimac, a musical group that lasted
for 20 years.
Retired, by coming to Roatan Hugo reinvented himself from being
known as biologist and an amateur musician to being on of the
most recognizable artists the island hosts. Since moving to
the island in 1996 he started a musical group "Puro Sol."
By playing several South American wooden flutes and mandolins
he fascinates his Caribbean audiences.
In 2001 he relised his so far only CD: Puro Sol, or Latin American
Fiesta! In a compilation of Hugo's original music, music by
Chris Goldman, and American standards he created a soundtrack
to Roatan: a mixture of Latin America, western influences and
South American sounds. The CD was recorded live and the instrumental-
Chocolate Bon Bon- is by far his favorite.
For the last two years his health has turn a turn downwards
and Hugo, now 69-years-old, doesn't play as much as he used
to. Hugo is more frail now and doesn't play a regular schedule
at Palmetto Bay. With a recognizable gray beard, a mustache,
and always present smile he spends more time at his home in
West End with his son Andrea and Honduran wife Reina.
Hugo does occasionally motivates himself to play a special venue
and his greatest satisfaction comes from knowing that his music
influenced people around Roatan.
a young biology student he took a part in a 1960s European wide
study to find two identical grains of sand. It wasn't found,
but Hugo discovered something just as important: "grains
of sand can find a way to merging together more easily than
The Italian musician was born on Lace Como in Northern Italy.
When he was only six-years-old Hugo saw one of the first color
American movies "Captain of Castilla." That viewing
set his life of on a course of fascination with Americas' indigenous
culture and its music. "I still have goose bumps when I
think about this," says Hugo. As a twelve-year-old he was
given his first record, by coincidence, a collection of Andean
Music, that he listened four hours on end memorizing sounds,
rhythms and tunes.
local group produces a sophisticated, eloquent CD.
presents himself as a master of all trades composing music,
writing lyrics, mixing and producing the CD. One exception to
his lyric writing is an adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's poem
'El Dorado,' a story about a conquistador's quest and fascination
for riches. The song's pensive, skillful and wonderful solo
guitar composition and lonesome, melancholic voice introduces
the best of Kris' talents. The song offers examples of the CD's
best, sophisticated, reflective, sensitive sound.
The CD fused some of the best local musical talent into arrangement
of guitar, voice, drums and harmonica. Eight musicians were
involved in the collaborative creation of "Welcome to Roatan."
"I would work with them almost like a director directs
a movie," said Kris. Marcos Aranda playing congas and percussion-
entices the listener with an exquisite, rhythmic performance.
Kris' wife, Naira, was a co-writer of "Dia Lindo"
a song fusing not only musical styles but languages: Spanish
and English- quite skillfully.
One of the other compilations is "Bad, bad whiskey".
"Bad, bad, bad whiskey is making me walk with the devil
again" sings Kris in a melody of a country waltz in a southern
drawl accented. The melancholic, reflective song about a down
day on a Caribbean island.
"Welcome to Roatan," tries to be many things to many
people- not an easy thing to accomplish. On one hand it attempts
to be simple, unsophisticated and a bit touristy introduction
to Roatan sounds and cultures, on the other, it amazes with
depth and elaboration for a listener much more sophisticated.
Goldman, 30, was born in Delaware and early on he begun to study
music and guitar. He entered the North Caroline School of the
Arts where, during one of the lectures he came into contact
with Dr. Evans and the idea of Roatan. Kris paid his dues and
school fees, playing to audiences at local restaurants until
he ran into Dr. Evans who told him of a far away Roatan. Kris
was intrigued and ready to find a way to discover his Latin
and Caribbean calling.
In 1998 Kris finally found an opportunity to come to Roatan
when Edgar Bodden proposed to him starting a music school on
the island. The project didn't develop and Kris eventually started
teaching students by himself and over the last eight years taught
over 200 Roatan students. His latest CD is his third production
following "Kristofer y sus Amigos," produced with
Puro Sol, "Latin American Fiesta" launched in 2002.
Last year Kris set up a recording studio at his Sandy Bay home
where he recorded several CDs for his students and his third
-most professional to date- "Welcome to Roatan" CD
with his Cultura group.
Rieman Unique Musical Contribution to Roatan
He developed his unique style by playing for "shrimpers,"
taking requests and any opportunity to improvise. Bobby's
music continued to diversify and in 1996 he found himself
in a situation neither he nor his music had experienced before
band." Bringing his talents together with those of other
people in a more formal way was an exciting experience. "I
saw my solo songs really come to life with a band." After
four years Bobby and his band TUNU released their first album:
Six years later and after six months of detail-oriented work,
Bobby and the Compadres, as he fondly calls the 11 contributing
artists on his new album, released "Pulperia Leah,"
his second CD. Bobby explains that "each person has a
place on that album that really lets them show off their individual
The album's twelve songs tell stories of life on Roatan through
Bobby's mixture of bluesy harmonica and Caribbean reggae exhibiting
Bobby's soulful lyrics. Some of the songs, like "Leavin'
You Babe" are newly recorded versions of those that he
played for years. Others, such as "West End Stroll"
are witty tales of life on the island.
His stories are realistic and uncomplicated versions of life
on Roatan: what the island is and how it is changing. Bobby
describes his lyrics as transparent with "nothing hiding
behind dreamy language and cryptic words." He claims
that he's never been able to decide to sit and write a song,
but rather that he gets hit with inspiration: often while
driving to and from construction sites that he works on. In
fact, many a song has been written in the front seat of his
truck, pulled over to the side of the road just long enough
to jot down his thoughts.
Bobby looks forward to writing as an outlet and never really
considered himself to be a great writer. His writing, together
with the entirety of his musical style, reflects in his sparkling
personality and gentle demeanor. "Pulperia Leah"
is a step forward from "Roatanified," keeping in
with the first album's general style and feel. Pulperia's
songs successfully broaden the scope of the first album."
Rieman arrived on Roatan in 1973 with little more than a harmonica
in his pocket. He has always loved music. For as long as Bobby
can remember he has found himself especially drawn to rhythm
and blues. As a kid he had some preliminary guitar lessons
and he learned to play a few chords and a few simple songs.
a while, during high school and college, music took a back
seat to his new found talent on the football field. It
wasn't until he began his travels that music reestablished
its place in Bobby's life. "I always traveled with a
harmonica in my pocket. It kept me company in a way."
At first he played as a way to keep busy in a new place, but
soon he was playing back-up for musicians and bands. Bobby
remembers feeling embarrassed before his musical skill improved.
Bobby came to Roatan almost by accident, intending instead
to go to Brazil. He immediately liked the distinct foreign
rhythms of the island and as new as reggae sounds were to
Bobby, his "harp" was a new instrument to the local
music scene. His harmonica playing cleverly incorporated the
reggae influence. "What I really like about the harmonica
is that it can be played in so many different musical situations."
Bobby returned to Roatan in 1981 with a harmonica holder,
a guitar and a newly discovered singing voice. He
moved to French Harbour and his trio joined the local music
Town Reggae and Rap Singers
were Charlie Miller, 19, Timmy Tennyson, 19, a high school student
in Oak Ridge, Troy Anderson, 24, a barber and Kemron Campbell,
19, a cabdriver. A
few months later they named themselves the Shocking Tribe and
made their first CD. Their second CD, "Return", is
now for sale at Videopics in Los Fuertes. They play occasional
gigs at island festivals, but life is still a struggle, especially
their music life. Shocking Tribe (AKA SKT) are real boys with
real jobs and real problems. This is what they sing about. This
is how they see life.
Timmy does his rap thing, Charlie follows up with his soft R
& B voice, Troy uses his more flexible cords to come up
with some Reggae tunes and Kemron with his deeper, heavier sound
doubles up on the rap thing.
They write their own lyrics, but use no instruments. Their rapping
technique uses beats from a tape or a computer. It still ends
up sounding cool, Pandy Town cool.
year ago, four Pandy Town boys got together at a friend's house
and started singing along to some reggae and rap tunes.
I was 14 years old I was only interested in music," says
Saul Molina, 45. His parents decided to send him to stay with
family friends in San Salvador to attend three years of music
Saul plays "happy hour music," as he calls it, at
events and tourist venues in Copan and occasionally on the Bay
Islands. His passion rests with being a music teacher and a
Saul has some ideas for songs, but until now he hasn't written
much. He works at Carnitas and Marinas Copan, a couple of tourist
venues in Copan Ruinas. Sometimes Saul just goes to the park
in the center of town and plays his guitar for anyone who has
time to listen.
Castillos Artful Journey
by her signature "Virgie", Castillo is one of the
Bay Islands' most recognized artists.
Castillo's work partners exaggerated abstract
faces and bodies with scenes of island life. She draws market
scenes, porch gatherings, dancing women. It is a still history
splashed with the colors of the Caribbean and a style that is
uniquely her own. "I wish more island people would step
up and tell their stories- through art or in their own way because
islanders are very timid about their feelings," said Castillo.
The people in her paintings and sketches are mostly fictional,
but the themes are sown with her own experiences as a young
female artist growing up on Roatan. As she tells of her career
as an artist, her own story emerges. "There's a lot more
to me than just a brush in my hand," smiles Castillo. She
is a mother, a sister, a seamstress, an artist. Virginia Castillo
is a storyteller. /Read More/
as her art reflects her island influences, Virginia Castillo
is a mirror of her own creations: energetic, colorful and full
is a known local artist, his paintings sometime sell before
they are even finished and he has created more murals on Roatan
then he can count. He appreciates the beauty of the environment
and expresses it in his paintings. "It's just something
I have inside, so I just carry it along with me and just keep
doing it," says Dennis. "My mission of art is to make
people appreciate things around them." Dennis' goal is
to make them slow down and think. Acrylic and oil painting are
Dennis' specialties. He says that more important than the media
is the quality and brightness of colors. Yet brightness of life
past is often toned down by a patina of memory
working in his painted fields wear brownish and grayish dresses.
The jungle greens contain hues of yellow, like a faded Technicolor
film. The figures are simplistic, but studied and full of detail.
There is a simple drumbeat to his rhythm of arranging his canvas.
There is even a touch of Paul Gauguin in his tropical village
scenes and bright green palm trees. But Dennis' affiliation
is closer to home and he admires Marcus Guillen, another Island
painter. The world Dennis Luma creates is filled with wild animals,
colorful flowers and Garifuna and Creole people doing ordinary
Less and less ordinary as time passes. Dennis is
nostalgic about the times of living in tight communities. "It
shows how beautiful it used to be: No fences, no TV, no robbing,"
he says. As everything changes and people forget, Dennis Luma
is there to remind them.
Luma' was born in Tela 30 years ago. He spent the first part
of his life in Belize and came to Roatan in 1992. He lives in
a small, blue, wooden house a stone's throw from Sandy Bay's
beach. His studio is his garden: an umbrella of an old oak tree.
Dennis works in the afternoons as the light becomes softer and
air cools down with sea breathe. Dennis
Luma is a first person in his family to have any contact or
passion for art and that surprises him. Dennis was drawing ever
since he could remember. When he picked his first paint brush
at the age of ten he "already knew what (he) was going
to do with (his) life."
Kordovsky Sub-Aqua Art
his resin period, Gunter tried several other techniques and
mediums: oil paintings, coral sculpting, wood carvings. He
had an exposition in Tegucigalpa; his art hangs at the US
embassy in Tegucigalpa and another piece is owned by former
Honduran President Flores.
Some wood canvasses that Gunter currently uses for his resin
creations have washed up on the beaches - paddles; others
are hardwood trays that he meticulously fills with aqua colored
One can find entire aquariums in his work. Fishes are sometimes
painted in, sometimes painted then cut out and laid in into
the ½" to 2" layer of transparent resin.
There are crab shells, miniature coral, shells, wood branches
and an endless variety of reef and open ocean fishes."
It's an eco-friendly art," Gunter says.
In the last year, Gunter took his work to another level. He
moved up in technique and scale. Some works are small, miniature
even: only a few inches in diameter. Other ones are as big
as five feet and with solid wood frames weigh over 200 pounds.
His first resin art pieces were much simpler. Gunter would
carve out shapes of fish from wood with a chisel then pour
the resin inside them. In his work he experimented with different
resin colors: red, brown, blue, green, and finally the "new
The creating of resin art requires craftsmanship and technical
ability to work with a quickly hardening substance. Too much
hardener creates cracks in the surface and can also curl-up
the paint on the artifacts enclosed in the resin pool. It
can harden in five minutes, or in two hours.
Gunter is fascinated with the colors of the ocean and the
clarity of the Caribbean water. "34 years on Utila, I'm
still in love with the ocean as ever."
first resin art pieces were much simpler. Gunter would carve
out shapes of fish from wood with a chisel then pour the resin
inside them. In his work he experimented with different resin
colors: red, brown, blue, green, and finally the "new black"-
The creating of resin art requires craftsmanship and technical
ability to work with a quickly hardening substance. Too much
hardener creates cracks in the surface and can also curl-up
the paint on the artifacts enclosed in the resin pool. It can
harden in five minutes, or in two hours.
Gunter is fascinated with the colors of the ocean and the clarity
of the Caribbean water. "34 years on Utila, I'm still in
love with the ocean as ever." Utila's Gunter Kordovsky
experimented with fiberglass and finally settled on using acrylic
resin as a medium that could most closely match -recreate the
fascinating world he would find underwater around the island.
The resin and multiple layers of floating objects re-create
the environment Gunter struggled for many years to re-create.
the most intense period of your life; it influences everything
later." With all this freethinking and experimentation,
Neil the artist has managed to remain child-like, not childish.
His projects remind us what we have lost from the exuberance
of our childhood; they flaunt themselves at our self-imposed
restrictions of compromise and reality. "[When] you want
to mimic what other people write, copy their lives and you
have none of your own."
Neil believes that his work only stands out because its background
is mediocrity. That is an understatement. Neil's work would
stand out in just about any surroundings, regardless of their
level of originality.
Neil is quick to admit that Utila and Honduras are overly
influenced by the architecture of the Northern Hemisphere.
He sees little exploration of the Bay Islands' indigenous
roots in art or architecture. "They ignore their Indian
heritage at the expense of commercial products from United
Neil often looks to Guatemala for inspiration in his work.
"[There] they still have their indigenous pride."
Even the name of his project "jade seahorse" combines
Mayan jade and an element of the Caribbean Sea.
In constructing "Nightland," Neil looked for inspiration
from Honduras through more recent artifacts: old Honduran
money, coins, stamps and turn-of-the-century Honduran postcards.
He often finds his materials washed-up on Utila's beaches:
century old porcelain dishes, seashells, bits of coral.
Even though Neil likes to give away his ideas he doesn't think
he has influenced the locals to really appreciate his art.
On the other hand, you will find plenty of Utilans who take
their non-island visitors on tours through Nightland. They
do it with pride and a bit of consternation at the same time.
"They don't necessarily consider it [Nightland] a part
of Utila. I think they are capable of astonishment at anything
that's slightly different," says Neil.
agree that Neil Keller is hands down the best artist on the
Bay Islands. The only problem is to agree: what "kind of
art" does he practice.
"I see myself as a world emperor with a coconut cape,"
says Neil Keller. Neil loves to exaggerate and his work speaks
for itself. Conical roofs, tree houses, bridges and grottos
fill every square foot of his man-made garden. "I don't
know into which category to put him," says Marley Howell,
Utila's vice mayor. Over the past 12 years Neil Keller, 50,
has constructed the most amazing and most eccentric architecture
the Bay Islands have seen to date. And he has just gotten started.
Neil Keller is admired by many and misunderstood by even more
Utilans. When Neil came to Utila in 1990, he didn't expect the
island to grow rapidly. The island life was an escape from the
suburban life of a high school art teacher in Los Angeles.
Born in "happy Southern California," Neil grew up
in a postcard Los Angeles neighborhood filled with friendly
neighbors, ice cream trucks and children using belts to carry
their books to a local yeshiva school. "I came through
mid-life crisis at eight," says Neil about his Los Angeles
upbringing. "When you're forming your ideas as a child,
you really pay attention to the world, curious about everything.
Thomas embarked on her journey to the island a year and a half
year ago to continue the pursuit of her life's passion. "I
always said, one day I would re-live my college days and
paint for painting's sake'," said Suki. What she discovered
in Roatan was that the learning process of a seasoned artist
is in itself a true artform.
South African-born, Suki was educated in Europe and has traveled
the world earning a living as a painter. She supported herself
for many months on this island by selling her artwork before
connecting with a large-scale project at the Parrot Tree Plantations.
The assignment was to design and create a three wall mosaic
mural using thousands of pieces of delicate, Italian glass.
Sukis first obstacle was to overcome her own reluctance
to commit to the piece; this mural would be her first experience
working with mosaics.
Suki began the mural design last October. Her goal was to integrate
the Venician-style architecture of the plantation with the magic
of the underwater world. The concept yielded a stunning scene
of aquatic fantasy, peppered with elements of Old World mythology.
Patterned with canterra stone, the outside walls each feature
their own mythical feature: one, a powerful zeus-like man, the
other a goddess-inspired mermaid. They are bridged by a third
wall illuminating a melange of sea creatures and waving bands
of colour. "The different colours of that wall add motion
and fluidity to the scene," explains Suki. The attributes
of the latter wall boast a depth that is lacking in the portrait-style
depiction of the man and mermaid which would lend a greater
sense of overall movement.
The mural will be accented with a stone fountain in the center,
shadowed by a solid wall of glass pieces creating the illusion
of a gradiated shaft of water rising to the ceiling. The most
striking element in the development of the mural is its actual
evolution. The unfinished shapes of each figure create a haunting
magnetism; an allure that will unfortunately escape those who
view the mural only after its completion.
Suki could translate her design into reality, she had to research
mosaic techniques, as well as familiarize herself with the materials
unique to the artform. She began by studying texts, researching
methods on the Internet, and inviting experienced mosaic artists
to lend their wisdom. Although Suki employed various techniques
described in her research, she eventually customized her routine
by modifying conventional approaches to complement her style.
This balance meant that she would alternate the sizes of the
glass pieces instead of using only the smaller bits, as traditional
methods suggest. Suki
found that this adjustment allowed her to work with a more freeform
style, while improving the efficiency of both her time and the
For Suki, the real challenge of mosaics was to master the art
of glass cutting. "It wouldn't be a true mosaic if each
piece was perfectly cut. So, you have to train your eye to see
a shape, cut, or angle and then incorporate them," she
stresses. She further explains the cutting is so essential because
different effects are created with varied cuts and it becomes
necessary to constantly adjust the technique.
Although her forte is painting, Suki's experience so far as
a mosaic muralist has served as an opportunity to test herself
as an artist. As the mural continues to emerge over the next
few months, she welcomes the fruits of the process itself: "Since
it's much slower than painting, it really gives you time to
reflect on the piece and it can become a very therapeutic art."