September 30, 2011

Painting a Transit

The Panama Canal - one of man's greatest creations - stretches 47 miles from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.  Each day ships from across the world transit its waters, making it one of the busiest waterways in the world. 

It was the operation of the canal that brought many families to Panama to live and work.  This was true for my grandparents (Josephine and Howard Sprague) moved from Brooklyn, NY to Panama during the depression.  They were told that jobs were plentiful in this small country the size of South Carolilna.  At first my grandfather worked for an oil company but later went back to school for accounting and was hired to work for the Panama Canal Commission in the Accounting Department.  He later retired as one of the top accountants.  His office was located in the Administration Building in Balboa Heights. 

The Administration Building of the Panama Canal. 

Today, in the same hallways my grandfather walked and worked, my father's artwork hangs for all to enjoy.  One of the many collections of Al Sprague paintings housed in the Administration Building line the upper rotunda.  This collection takes one through a transit of the canal.  This collection was originally painted in celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Canal. 

This plaque hangs in the upper rotunda of the Administration Building

This painting is part of the Transit Collection which hangs in the upper rotunda of the Administration Building.  Dad wanted to capture the line men who row out to the large ships to connect the lines to the mles that pull the ships through the locks of the canal. 

Other collections can be found in the Administrator's, Assistant Administrator's, Administration waiting area, and the Board Room. 

An Al Sprague pollera bronze sits on table in Alberto Aleman's (Administrator of the Panama Canal) office.
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This Al Sprague Painting hangs in the Board Room of the Adminstration Building

This painting hangs in the Administration Waiting Room at the Administration Building.  It was painted in 1969 and was part of a collection of paintings of the locks overhaul.  I love how it shows the massiveness of the gates of the canal!

In a recent trip to Panama with my children, Al Sprague's grandchildren, my father took the the time to walk around the Administration Building and show Braden (my son) and Kendall (my daughter) his collections housed in this beautiful and historic building.  As I listened in to his conversation, I heard him explain how he wanted to concentrate on the people that make the transits possible.  We have great means of getting a ship from one ocean to the other but we couldn't do it without the people. 

Obviously I am very proud of what my father has accomplished over the years in his career and it brings much joy to be able to share this information with others.  I hope you enjoy following his work as much as I enjoy displaying it!

September 29, 2011


"From the Causeway" by Al Sprague
This was Sprague's first painting.

As a teenager, my father, Al Sprague spent a lot of time in trouble.  One day he came home after getting in trouble in school and his mother met him the door.  His mother, Josephine Sprague, was an artist herself.  She gave my father an easel, paints, brushes, and a blank canvas.  She handed all the supplies to my father and told him not to return until he completed a painting.  My father took everything with him and headed out to the causeway where he painted "From the Causeway" (shown above).  Upon returning home, my grandmother asked him, "So, what did you think?"  He responded with, "I loved it."  At that moment she promised to send him to school to get a degree in art as long as he commited himself to art.  The rest is history.....

Al Sprague first entered into Mississippi Southern but later transferred to American University in Washington D.C. where he earned a Master's Degree in Fine Art.  During his educational track, Sprague painted his surroundings of Washington D.C. and Virginia.  Much of this work was shown in galleries in Richmond and Arlington. 

In 1967, Sprague returned to Panama where he began his career of painting Panama.  He has since become one of the most recognized artist of Panama with works displayed in some of the most respected collections around the world.


Life as the daughter of artist Al Sprague has proven to be quite an adventure.  I have had so many opportunities to meet individuals from across the world who have an admiration and love for his God-given talent.  His work has crossed all types of barriers and touched the lives of many. 

It is because of this wide spread love and respect that I decided to start this blog in hopes to share a little insight into his art, life, and career. 


As far back as I can remember, my father has worked in a garage studio in our house. As a child, I spent many hours watching him paint.  It was, and still is, one of my favorite things to do.  Today, he continues to paint in a studio in his home.  It is where he returns each night to his homeland of Panama. 

His subject matters include the polleras (national folkloric dancers), fishermen, market vendors, and the canal of Panama. 

My blog will reveal a portfolio of Sprague's artwork thoughout the years.  I invite you to join me on this is sure to be interesting.