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Nov 13, 2007

Pen Cayetano art exhibition opens

Story PictureHe is one of Belize’s most innovative, durable, and versatile artistic personalities … and while he no longer resides here, Pen Cayetano manages to make a special appearance every November. News Five’s Stewart Krohn caught up with Pen as he put the final touches on his latest exhibition.

[Pen playing in the Turtleshell Band]

Stewart Krohn, Reporting
Pen Cayetano, 1983, Dangriga…

Pen Cayetano, 2008, Belize City…
[Pen singing and dancing with Larubeya Drummers]

It’s been twenty-five years since Pen Cayetano and the Turtleshell Band turned Punta into Punta Rock. And while the musician has not slowed down a bit, the last quarter century has really seen the growth of Pen, the artist.

Tonight the latest edition of what has become an annual exhibition opens at the Mexican Cultural Institute. Called “Home Belize”, the collection features new work along with a few old favourites. As usual, the question is how a painter living in Germany manages to capture the spirit of a home so far away.

Pen Cayetano
“When I come to Belize in November I usually take sometimes some photographs, I do mini sketches, and I travel around the country and see different cultures too. And that’s the way I usually do it, sometimes I do many paintings from memories too.”

Stewart Krohn
“That memory must be awfully good.”

Pen Cayetano
“Well the further away you are from home, the more stronger your memory of home comes.”

Stewart Krohn
“Which are the special paintings that you like best out of this year’s exhibition?”

Pen Cayetano
“Well I like all the paintings—that da number one—but the point of this exhibition and the one which I am focussing more on this year is “The Fishermen”. Why? Because the fishermen live here long time with us and they have been working these fishing boats for a long, long time and they still living that kind of way. And you know fishing life is not an easy life; it’s a really hard living out there in the sea and spending a lot of time out there. So I say I am going to give respect to these guys doing that kind of fishing work.”

Water figures prominently in many of the over forty oil paintings, as do Garifuna cultural themes and social commentary. There’s also a series of familiar faces.

Pen Cayetano
“Sometimes I like to paint portraits because they have many different people in Belize and important people too and sometimes I give them respect by just doing some of their portraits. But doing portraits of people, sometimes it can be very detrimental because I am not taking photographs, because painting would have come be differently when the original person see it.”

Stewart Krohn
“What you mean to say is some of your subjects may not like what they see.”

Pen Cayetano
“Oh exactly; that’s what I mean.”

And while painting occupies much of Pen’s time, his music is never far away.

Pen Cayetano
“I am working with my family now, my family band “The Cayetanos” and we just released our new LP, “Home Belize”; the name of this exhibition as well as the name of the CD that I was working on this year. We just released that CD in Germany last month, so I will be releasing that CD right here down here in Belize and I think in July we will be doing a release in New York.”

And when will Pen come home for good?

Pen Cayetano
“As soon as I retire from working in Germany. I always think about Belize as number one. Everyday in my mind is Belize, Belize, Belize. Seeing Belize on the television out there makes me very, very homesick.”

In the meantime, the artist is saving his Euros and Belize dollars. All the paintings on display are for sale.

Pen Cayetano
“Well that’s what the exhibition is all about, come and take a look and as well if they like what they see only money talks and, you know, the other part walks.”

Stewart Krohn reporting for News Five.

Pen’s paintings range in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. He is musically accompanied by the Larubeya Drummers.

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