April 5, 2013

Postmarked for Eternity

The 13 cent Canal Zone stamp was the first postage stamp published using my father's artwork.  Issued February 23, 1976, pictures the dipper dredge, Cascadas.  The Canal has always been a subject matter my father has embraced.  He created a drawing, etching, and painting of this composition. 

The original is part of a permanent collection owned by the ACP (Autoridad del Canal Panama) and was reproduced in the widely distributed Panama Canal Review in 1975.  In addition, the black and white drawings of this collection were reproduced and sold in packets early in my father's career.  I remember as a child going to Stephens Circle with my mother and selling these packets of drawings.  Many people still have these black and white drawings framed and on display in their homes today.  

The 15 cent Canal Zone postage stamp was the last postage stamp produced by the Canal Zone before the ending of the Canal Zone postage system.   The first day of issue was October 25, 1978.  The image captures the operation of the electric "mules" as they guide a ship through the lock and is probably the most recognized Canal Zone postage stamps

The original painting used for the 15 cent postage stamp is part of the permanent collection of Al Sprague paintings found in the rotunda of the Administration Building of the Panama Canal in Balboa Heights, Panama.  It too, was reproduced in the 1975 Panama Canal Review.

Since the production of the Canal Zone postage stamps, my father's work has been used to produce six Panamanian stamps.   

April 3, 2013

Painting the People of Panama

"Muchacha Sentada en el Patio", Oil, 1988

Experience the Beauty of Panama through Al Sprague Artwork... this has been a saying I have used for many years.  My father truly captures the essence of Panama through his artwork... it isn't just the Canal or the beautiful dresses of the Pollera... it's the people... they are what makes Panama such a beautiful country.

My father has a keen sense of seeing the beauty in some of the most simplistic things.  He gets excited about the way the light reflects off the brightly colored fruit at the market or the different colored bottles on the cart of the raspadero.  I can't count how many times we stopped the car on the way to the interior to take pictures of a vendor on the side of the road selling vegetables or flowers.  I have to credit this to his artistic eye.  He just sees things differently than the rest of us.

"Flower Girl", Oil, 2008
Available as a Giclee

My father captures the lighting, colors, and strength of the market vendors in his paintings of the marketplace. 

"Tomato Vendor", Oil, 1991
Available as a Giclee

You can almost smell the scents of the market, feel the texture of the fruits and vegetables, and feel the warmth of the sun when looking at his work.  Many people love his renditions of the raspadero and his cart.  The paintings bring back memories of chasing down the cart vendor and waiting for the delicious taste of the icy treat.  

"Raspadero", Oil, 2010
Available as a Giclee
Over the years my father has consistently captured the traditional wooden carts used by the market vendors.  These carts are typically filled with fruits and vegetables and pushed into the streets during the day.  When walking through the market areas, it is common to see multiple carts lining the street - each filled with fresh treats for sale.

"Market Carts", Oil, 1975

"Vegetable Vendor", Oil, 1988

If asked, I would have to say, the market vendors remain one of my favorite subject matters of my father's because he consistently captures the beauty of Panama through the everyday life of the people of the country.