Panama ... It's Much More than a Canal

Typically, when you hear people speak about the country of Panama, the Panama Canal is part of the conversation. This is understandable – I mean, it is what put the country on the map. Yes, the Panama Canal is an engineering wonder of the world. And, yes, ships transport goods and merchandise through the chambers of the Canal from all sides of the globe. And, yes, the Panama Canal is a destination on many people’s bucket lists to witness the wonder of its operation. But, did you know that Panama is much more than a Canal?

As a young child, my father, Al Sprague, had the opportunity to learn about the essence of the country of Panama – its heart and soul – the people and the culture. My grandfather, Howard Sprague, loved Panama and he shared this love with my father and his siblings. It was not uncommon to find my grandfather at dinner with Panamanian friends. He spoke the language, he loved the culture, and he even worked nights as the bookkeeper of The Star and Herald newspaper in Panama City. It was his love for the country and its people, that sparked my father’s desire to paint the life, heart, and soul of Panama – its people.

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Panama with my father for his 2019 art exhibit, “Visiones de Panama.” During this trip, dad was interviewed, and he was asked why he continues to paint Panama. My father’s response was something similar to this …

Panama is in my blood. My father gave me that gift. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to fish in the same waters as the fishermen I paint,

attend festivals where girls pridefully dance in their cherished costumes, and walk the streets of the markets. I have witnessed the beauty of the clouds that build out on the ocean, the sound of the music to which the girls move, and the smells of the fruit and vegetables displayed throughout the market. Panama is so rich with color – may it be in the foliage of the jungle, the fabric of the dresses, or the people themselves. Panama – I just can’t get enough of it.

Al Sprague’s artwork captures the heart and soul of Panama. Over 65 years, he has painted, sculpted, and lived the beauty of the country. His passion for the culture is displayed through every stroke of paint put onto canvas. His ability to see the beauty of the sunlight shining through dresses, clouds building on the sea, and even the grandeur of the ships transiting the canal has made him one of the most recognized artists in Panama. His work promotes Panama and its culture world-wide. Because of this, we are excited to partner with Flor Maria Muñoz Bañales, Hispanic Art and Cultural Promoter in Europe to showcase Panama and its people through Al Sprague Artwork in November 2020.

I can’t think of a better way to show the world that Panama is so much more than a Canal than through my father's artwork! Details for the exhibit are not finalized at this time. But we hope you will consider joining us in the City of the Lights in November 2020 as we celebrate the beauty of Panama through Al Sprague Art!

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