May 13, 2017

A Love Story

I have always said that artists have a unique way of seeing things others just can't see.  They can express something on canvas which opens the eyes of others. 

My father has done just that throughout his career.  In the early 1970's my father saw something in the way the light hit the templeques of the pollera dancers (the national folkloric dancers of Panama).  He saw the gracefulness in the way the dresses moved and most importantly he recognized the absolute beauty in the girls who wore the dresses with pride.  He had to open the window for everyone else to see what a beautiful tradition was right before our eyes. 

This early painting portrays the beauty of the polleras.  I first saw this painting on my father's easel in 1976 and told him how I loved it.  He promised it to me right there on the spot.  Today I wake every morning to the beauty of Panama as it hangs in my bedroom for me to enjoy.
Over the years, my father continued to paint the beautiful girls in their cherished dresses.  He spent many weekends at Old Panama taking photos of the dancers that he would use as material to produce these wonders.  An Al Sprague pollera became a "must have" for many in this small country.  He traveled the country to capture the many types of dresses and dances.  His favorite place, still today, is  the small village of Santa Domingo just past Las Tablas on the way to Pedasi.  He says the light is perfect and the dresses are the prettiest. 

"Galinda" is one of my father's paintings using the polleras from Santa Domingo.
Today my father's polleras hang proudly on walls of many across the world.  He has created a pride for many Panamanians for a tradition that may have gone unnoticed in the past.  This was best explained to a group of Panamanians during a show at the Panamanian Embassy in Washington D.C. when the Ambassador stated that it took an American artist to see and paint the essence of Panama for Panamanians to see the beauty of their country, people, and traditions.

"La Reina" is another painting of the beautiful dancer from Santa Domingo.

I guess one can say my father's career of painting Panama is a love story.  He fell in love with the people and the culture a long time ago.  And now, he continues to nurture that love through his art which opens our eyes daily to the beauty of a country and its people.  


  1. la belleza hecha pintura, las tradiciones nuestras inmortalizadas con pinceladas finas, atinadas y plenas de amor por la cultura panameña. Bendiciones y muchos éxitos

  2. Hi, Kassie.
    I have a large oil painting signed simply, "Sprague". I doubt it is one of your father's, but in my search for the artist, I need to start eliminating possibilities somewhere. Would you mind if I posted or sent you a photo of the work so you might give me a yea or nay? Thanks for your time.

    1. Ryan, I would be glad to review the painting you have and verify if it is an Al Sprague or not. You can email me a photo at

    2. I just found out that I have one of your fathers original paintings. My aunt Theresa Moore Arrington Dunn, I know thought is a lot of names, passed in February and she lived and taught in Panama for many years 60's to 70's. I am certain she knew him. I will be at her home at the end of the month and would love to know more about the painting. I can take a pic and send to you if you like. Rosemary