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Artist Review
Utila's Newest Painter in Residence by Morna McLean

On 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.

Artist Naomi Gittoes and Kate Vigolo at the exhibit

The 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 production assistant.

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," says Naomi.

An Emerging Art Scene By Jennifer Mathews
Exhibitions in Roatan Flourish as Both Local and Non Local Artisans Join

The 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.

In 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 international markets."

Hunt 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.

In 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 workshops.

On 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 Acupuncturist.

A Tim Blanton Production at the Roatan Art Show at the Oasis Lounge.

The 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.

This 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 their own.

The 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 3pm.

Presenting 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.

The Bunker of ArtBy Thomas Tomczyk
A Transplant Argentinean Painter Gives Utila a Painting Lesson
Painting 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, vitrage like.
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.
When, 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.
Halcie in Need By Thomas Tomczyk
A 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.

I Need You

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.

Artist Known as Conk By Thomas Tomczyk
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.
He 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..
"What I lost, I don't Miss…"
By Sally Martin
"The 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 Ones.
"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."
What 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.
The 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.
Book Review
The Gringa Perspective
By Jenny Roberts
The 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.
Sharon 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.
Mystery Retold By Jenny Roberts
Book about Roatan East End Life in 1960s and 1970s
Of 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 research.
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.
In 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."
Brown's 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.
Judas Bird Arrives
Tell 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.
I 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.
The Past in Utila’s present
As 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.
In 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…"non-fictive novel", 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.
from roatan to sundance
first feature film shot on the Bay Islands
After 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 scouts.
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.
Jack 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.
J 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 $248 million.
Roatan 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.
Hugo the Magician
His 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.
As 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 most people."
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.
A local group produces a sophisticated, eloquent CD.
Kris 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.
Kris 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.
Bobby 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…"a 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: "Roatanified."
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 talents."
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."

Bobby 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. For 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 scene.

Pandy Town Reggae and Rap Singers
They 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.
One year ago, four Pandy Town boys got together at a friend's house and started singing along to some reggae and rap tunes.
The Guitarist
"When 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 school.
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 musician.
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.
Virginia’s Castillo’s Artful Journey
Known 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/
Just as her art reflects her island influences, Virginia Castillo is a mirror of her own creations: energetic, colorful and full of life.
Acrylic Dreams
Dennis 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… the women 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 things… 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.
Dennis 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."
Mixed Media
Gunter Kordovsky Sub-Aqua Art

Before 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 resin.
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 black"- aqua.
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."

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 black"- aqua.
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.
An Artist's Paradise

It's 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 States."
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.

/Read More/

Many 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.
Suki Thomas, Muralist
Suki 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. Suki’s 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.
Before 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 materials.
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."
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