840. Confessions of a Curaçao Street Artist

While doing some freelance graphic design work in Punda he decided to take a break and let his mind wander, grab a bite at Marshe Bieu, catch a cruise ship sailing into our harbor… All of a sudden he found himself surrounded by drunks, prostitutes, drug dealers, chollers… a veritable world of decay… holding his breath to minimize the awful gut-wrenching stench.

He was in Hanchi Punda (‘Punda Alley’). A stone’s throw away from Punda’s famous Handelskade, Penha building, Emmabrug, Floating Market, Snoa. How could we have a hanchi like this in the middle of Punda?! The question kept haunting him for months. He had to do something about it.

————-

By 8 am on January 1, 2012, his eyes had come alive. Contouring the figure… fear set in as he considered the scale of what he had started. A little girl passed by on her bicycle. Her artist father’s watchful eye trailed behind, “you’re doing a great job!” Desperate and deaf to the compliment, he lamented, “I can’t reach the top!” The artist father returned with a long (broom) stick from his nearby gallery, suggesting he attach his roller. Grateful and trying hard to silence his self-doubt, he went back to work.

Hairline. Cheeks. Chin.

Then a few drops of rain to end the work day.

The street artist.

The surrounding shops would open for business the following day… and he still had to legitimize the little boy’s face.

5:45 am on January 2, 2012 he was back where he had started, contemplating the stinky contoured wall in pitch black darkness, waiting for the the sun to rise so he could continue.

Folks passing by would encourage him, “heeeeey! pabien Mucha Hombuuu! look at you doing what you love to do so early in the morning, wish I could take a picture!”

He returned 5 Sundays in a row; some days battling the Hanchi Punda underworld with his paintbrush. Building guards would pitch in, assuming he was doing his job just like them.

One particularly memorable Sunday his 18 year-old son joined him, but only halfheartedly. After a few hours he stood back, heart swelling with pride, as his son’s brushstrokes took flight on the little boy’s wings… possessed by the wall’s magic.

The street artist’s son.

A guitar player passed by to check on the little boy’s progress, serenading with an old bolero inspired by Venezuelan poet and politician Andrés Eloy Blanko“Pintor, Píntami un Angel Negro”.

Pintor nacido en mi tierra,
con el pincel extranjero,
pintor que sigues el rumbo
de tantos pintores viejos,
aunque la Virgen sea blanca,
píntame angelitos negros.

No hay pintor que pintara
angelitos de mi pueblo.
Yo quiero angelitos blancos
con angelitos morenos.
Ángel de buena familia
no basta para mi cielo.

Si queda un pintor de santos,
si queda un pintor de cielos,
que haga el cielo de mi tierra,
con los tonos de mi pueblo,
con su ángel de perla fina,
con su ángel de medio pelo,
con sus ángeles catires,
con sus ángeles morenos,
con sus angelitos blancos,
con sus angelitos indios,
con sus angelitos negros,
que vayan comiendo mango
por las barriadas del cielo.

Si al cielo voy algún día,
tengo que hallarte en el cielo,
angelitico del diablo,
serafín cucurusero.

Si sabes pintar tu tierra,
así has de pintar tu cielo,
con su sol que tuesta blancos,
con su sol que suda negros,
porque para eso lo tienes
calientito y de los buenos.
Aunque la Virgen sea blanca,
píntame angelitos negros.

No hay una iglesia de rumbo,
no hay una iglesia de pueblo,
donde hayan dejado entrar
al cuadro angelitos negros.
Y entonces, ¿adónde van,
angelitos de mi pueblo,
zamuritos de Guaribe,
torditos de Barlovento?

Pintor que pintas tu tierra,
si quieres pintar tu cielo,
cuando pintas angelitos
acuérdate de tu pueblo
y al lado del ángel rubio
y junto al ángel trigueño,
aunque la Virgen sea blanca,
píntame angelitos negros.

About 1000awesomethingsaboutcuracao

I'm Carolina Gomes-Casseres, the creator of 1000 Awesome Things About Curaçao. I live in and love Manhattan, but sometimes miss my first Awesome island...

4 comments

  1. Keily

    I also once or twice ended up walking down that street and it surprised me how such a street could have such and amazing and breath taking view. I am an artist myself and I have to say that this guy has talent. The little boy’s painting made me stop, and I remember staring at it for a few minutes… it really made me think. Thank you for posting this, and thank you artist for making that day brighter for me and (I’m sure) everyone crossing that hanchi.

  2. Mchele

    Love it Caro! He’s great and hopefully his art will transform Hanchi Punda!

  3. Pingback: 724. Our Awesome Street Artist, Garrick Marchena | 1000 Awesome Things About Curaçao

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