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Caymanian Culture by Alta Bodden Solomon

December 12, 2012
Alta Solomon

Alta Solomon

Whats my culture?

For me my culture is my forefathers/mothers way of life, my way of life. I think culture is different for everyone of us and the same IN everyone of us Caymanians.  My intimate knowledge of my family stems back only to my grandparents – yet I’ve always wanted to know about and asked about and continue to learn through oral avenues of the older generations – by my parents and aunts mostly.

It is the love that generations of Bodden’s and Ebank’s/Scott’s and Henderson’s from my family tree have established either in the words they passed down through poems and songs or conversations. The recipes they used that are still being cooked in our kitchens.  The love of the earth and the fruits/food it gives to plant and care for our “grounds”.  The call of the sea to be cleansed and to catch our meals. The bonds of a love I have not found in any other family except mine, which may exist in yours – and the respect of family and forgiveness we extend that is foreign to some and known to many.

My Great grandmother Isador Henderson (Tibbetts) a midwife with hands that brought many babies into the world and sewed clothes to make a living. Left widowed by husband, Greatgrand father Alfred Henderson, drowned at sea on the “Noco” while in route to/from Tampa delivering cargo, 9 children to care for and never to remarry

My grandmother Alta “Tiny’s” Henderson’s (Scott) love for each grandchild by making cotton pillows from the cotton trees in “Cotton Tree Bay” CYB – I still have mine, and it is enjoyed by my son now. She was welcoming to any and everyone to her home and at her table with a quirky and jolly personality and quick temper – from her “Red Head”.   My grandfather Alford Scott’s love for God – to preach, tell the Word, his nomadic ways that made him uproot his family of 12 and move from one island to the next on a whim time and time again and his hot tempered disposition that would shake the roof of a house with anger.

My Great grandfather Atwood Bodden who moved to Little Cayman after retiring a Quarter Master on the schooner that sailed so far away they though they’d never make it back home.

My Grandmother Iva Ebanks (Bodden) food, the little made with lots of love and shared with out restraint, but grumble of the hard work it took and still given with a smile. Her thatch baskets that were priceless in her eyes and the scent of the tops drying in her hall way. My grandfather Winston Bodden’s wayward ways that let one wife with children to find another in Jamaica and make a home – to leave and find another ….(and another?)

My great Aunt Vedell’s poem “The Old year’s long campagin” I heard her recite until she went “home to Jesus” and learnt it so I could pass on and stories of her young days in Northside and relocating to Little Cayman with her Father and mother and of my own child hood days she’d share. Her story of a “late in life marriage” to Uncle Arthur, a Jamaican who was living in Cuba as a farmer, then when the war was over came to Grand Cayman to be told of a woman in Little Cayman who he could marry – and their walk on the dock in Little Cayman to meet each other for the first time and to be engaged.  The story of Uncle Arthurs one regret she’d tell me of time and time again, as if she had not told me once – “Not meeting you sooner Vedell, not meeting you sooner” was what he said was his one regret in their relationship.

Cayman Cat Boats

Cayman Cat Boats

The shipbuilders from Cayman Brac, the Scott’s (My Great great great Grandfather – ship builders and sailors came from England, dissembling his boat and building his home and shop from it’s remains on Cayman Brac) He and his generations hands made Schooner’s for brave men, some who would never know them and they would never know. To make Iron Men lifted into history and respected forever by their Caymanian generations.  (And of late I’ve learned that my Husband’s great grand father sailed aboard my forefather’s ship)

My culture is the way my mother Shirley Mae Scott (Bodden)and father Alva “Billy” Bodden lived in their youth, harvesting from Little Cayman waters and enjoying cat boats rides with nothing but the wind to hear.

Daddy quietly wading into Tar Pond to shoot Whistling ducks for fresh meat,  and “proging” for squab at night in the shallow waters and whelks on iron shore. He left Little Cayman at age 13 to support his mother, brothers and sisters, a boy among men on deep seas with broad skies.

A Little Caymanian – traveling from the Amazon to France, Ethiopia to India, and New York to the Ivory Coast and too many other places to mention.

My mother, a young wife, her drive to build her own home while daddy was away to sea; cement blocks she made in Grandfather Alford’s block “factory” and coloured tiles made in the same place, grace our family’s home floor, making a remembrance of their strength, mentally, spiritually and physically to us every time we walk through the doors.  Her entrepreneuring spirit; she saved a few pounds and pence to purchase goods and re-sold making a business from nothing, over 40 years “Billy’s” Supermarket has been open on the Brac.

It is my mother’s talent of writing that has been passed on to us, for poems, and reasoning’s and songs.

My culture is the pot of sea grapes (that many would have walked by – or on)  bubbling away on my electric stove with sugar making a jelly that you’ll never forget.  Stewed fruits and jams are my specialty – learnt by watching Granny Iva and mommy, finding nothing more fascinating than the making or tasting of their “waste not, want not” creations….past down to generations from generations.

It is diving conchs with my four sisters in Little Cayman’s clear waters and Gina breaking the shell with speed and precision, Teresa and I cleaning them and Lolita clearing a place for “the Kitchen” under the coconut tree and Mia preparing the conch- marinated, on the “Key” (Quay – Owen’s Island) that was once partly owned by our forefathers. It is seeing my Uncle Franky and cousin Justin pulling ashore his catch and my aunt Eulalee talking of the meal it will make and all our mouths drooling!

It is the lines in the faces of the older generation that are now faster and faster being laid to rest, weathered skin, tanned and salted by a harder and simpler time that now.

It is my need to share all these things with my own children, my own people – this is my culture, this is who I am and what has made me – us.

And then again it is still so much more.

Alta E. Bodden-Solomon – 20.11.11

One Love Artist Randy Chollette

December 11, 2012

After I returned from Grand Cayman, I immediately started searching for information on Randy.  I just had to know more about this soulful artist I met on the beach in Bodden Town.  Here’s a link to the first article I found on him.

http://www.reallife.ky/index.php/rldesign/332-one-love-artist-randy-chollette

After reading this, I knew his spirit was perfectly aligned with my dreams for Travel Gal.  Take a read and get to know more about him.  Then you’ll know who you can work with and learn from on our Travel Gal Adventure to the island in March.  If you haven’t considered joining us before, please take a look and learn more about this cultural immersion experience. http://travelgalart.com/Travels.aspx

Meditating on the Island

Meditating on the Island

Nasaria Suckoo Chollette’s “Just Long Celia”

December 3, 2012
Did I tell you Nasaria was chosen to represent the Cayman Islands at this year’s Olympics in London?
From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, poets from the 205 Olympic nations competed to be part of the UK’s largest ever poetry festival, Poetry Parnassus.  This event was part of the Cultural Olympiad.  And Nasaria was there!
Here’s her poem “Just Long Celia” and  art work “Long Celia.”  Enjoy!

Long Celia Acrylic and Paper on Canvas

Nasaria Suckoo Chollette’s “Long Celia” – Acrylic and Paper on Canvas

Just Long Celia

By Nasaria Suckoo Chollette

 

It was long Celia they called me

Not Ntozake

Or Mamma Zulu

Or even Nanny

 

Just Long Celia

 

Just Long Celia longing for freedom

Just Long Celia hoping for home

Just Long Celia free

 

Unna hear dem drums?

 

Naseberry sweet dem words was

Just like to bite in

And let dem run sticky down my chin

 

free      free      free

Unna hear dem drums?

 

Dis my Sunday offering

Dis my boxin day dinner

Dis my candle wood

 

It’s in the wind that’s fidlin’ through the wattle where the daub has worn away

It’s runnin’ mad like ants across the table where heavy cake has just been cut

It’s spillin’ out of hushed lips like drunken men pouring another cup of sea grape wine

 

Start a revolution…

Take a puff and pass it around

 

Unna hear dem drums?

 

You can’t kraal my spirit but for a little time

I feel the light you cannot see

And I will swim back home to lay my clutch

Where I began to be

And iron wood don’t sink

 

Unna hear dem drums?

 

Sarah, you gyapseedin duppy

You a blackgyardin tell-tale dead woman

You lie

And 12 white ghosts are fighting over my pickins in fifty lashes

 

I a woman

I a free woman

I a naked woman

I a torn an tattered woman

 

Buy you still cyan’t break open my cockspur thorny shell

And ‘memba what happen when ya rub a “nicka” wrong.

 

Wake up its morning

 

You still tied to that dock

One knot away from

Walking on water

 

You still taking lashes from

That raging monster

Whose rib you took

 

You still fighting the refection

You see in your basin

That is me

 

Wake up!

 

Lick dem drums Julia,

Lick dem drums

Book Your Spot Today – Explore Grand Cayman Like Never Before

December 1, 2012
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Island Life….ahhhhh….

Explore Art and Culture in Grand Cayman:

March 23-30, 2013

I’m so proud to launch the first Travel Gal Adventure on the island of Grand Cayman. We are officially live and accepting reservations at http://bit.ly/tgatravels.

Primary School Folk Singers

Come join me in Grand Cayman. I stand behind the experience I’ve built. I’ve been a travel enthusiast since I was 12. Yes..that was a while ago. But let’s not get stuck on that.

Over the years, I’ve discovered what fuels my passion for travel. It’s the real moments I’ve been able to share with locals like:

  • My 5am solo mission to get our rental car out of the parking lot in Granada, Spain. After having to break into the lot (it wasn’t officially open yet), I discovered the ticket machine was broken. Believe it or not, I successfully explained to the attendant, using only hand gestures and facial expressions, that I needed to make change to use the machine.
  • Stumbling into Charles Square in Prague only to discover a massive viewing party of the World Hockey Championships was about to launch and grabbing a prime seat surrounded by Czechs ready to party. (Oh and they won!)
  • And let’s not forget my encounter with the Gibraltar apes (If you don’t know, just ask).

So this trip to Grand Cayman was built around my true passion for travel; Real moments with Real People ( or apes). Of course, to make this even juicier, the people I’m referring to just so happen to be the island’s most premiere artists, Gordon & Alta Solomon, Randy Chollette and Nasaria Suckoo Chollette. And wouldn’t you know that when I met them, they were already dreaming up ways to share their culture and heritage.

Randy in his Studio…yes, you’ll be there too.

The way I see it, the package I built is just the foundation. A starting point for us to continue building. It’s going to be a totally unique, cultural immersion experience. And together, we’ll make it what it will be. I’m excited to share this experience with you. So let’s get it booked so we can all post this on our calendars and have something to look forward to to kick off Spring ’13!!

My hopes for this trip:

  • A group of curious explorers sign up – I’m really looking for 8 lively people willing to play and learn
  • We all go into the experience with open minds ready to catch whatever unexpected delights come our way
  • My amazingly talented artists get to share a part of themselves and their talents beyond what they’ve experienced before
  • Meaningful exchanges develop new lifelong friendships and lasting memories are created
  • My sides and cheeks ache from laughing too hard for too long
  • New perspectives are embraced and shared with others back home

Travel Details and Booking Information Here! http://bit.ly/tgatravels

Or download the PDF here: travel_gal_grand_cayman

I’ll be posting more tidbits on this trip over the next few weeks. If you have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m committed to doing anything I can to make this trip an experience of a lifetime for you.

Let’s travel!! The island is waiting.

Tanya

Do you hear the call of the Conch?

Do you hear the call of the Conch?

Our journey begins

November 29, 2012

The first steps towards a dream that my wife Alta and I have had for many years, welcoming “visitors” to our islands in a way that they will know us, feels us and become like family. We are excited to have the opportunity to form this relationship with Tanya and her family and with her friends and those who choose to come on this fantastic adventure she is coordinating! March 2013 will be a time to not only remember but wish for again!

– Gordon Solomon

Meet Randy Chollette and Nasaria Suckoo Chollette from Grand Cayman

November 12, 2012
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Randy Chollette from the island of Grand Cayman

“I want to live this life as near to perfection as I can, I don’t want to make this journey again, to have to work out karma again. That is why all that I think, say and do must be absolute truth. And truth is LOVE.”  – Randy Chollette

As a child, Randy always saw the world a little differently than most people. He was an absolute child, no grey area, black or white, right or wrong. Today, as one of Cayman’s leading Fine Artists, he approaches life in much the same way; truth is truth. Living by that mantra has brought him a freedom of spirit that spills over into his art and touches each and every one who comes in contact with his works. He honors the Almighty Creator from whom his talents have been bestowed as gifts for this life’s journey.

This consummate artist does not allow himself to be pegged into any one hole, so he has many styles of expression. From Art to Music he seeks innovation and unique self-expression; abstract, realism, expressionism… His themes are just as all encompassing; the world around him, cultural identity, social commentary, but the one common element is the spiritual nature of the works. Simply put, they touch you. They connect his existence to that of every other part of creation; a universal kind of brotherhood and humanity.

Here are a few of Randy’s accomplishments:

  • Member of Native Sons Caymanian Artists Organization since 2000
  • 2000, Randy received the Best in Show award from the Kensington Lott Gallery show, Blue
  • Special Commendation award for second place in Cayman’s annual McCoy Prize art competition, 2003
  • Peoples Choice award for the same show in 2003 and 2004
  • Featured artist for Art @ Governors exhibition 2004
  • The Cayman National Cultural Foundation and The Cayman Islands National Museum have purchased his works as a part of their mandate to preserve Cayman’s cultural heritage for future generations
  • First Place- McCoy Prize art competition 2004 with a cultural piece titled Chollette Chalet
  • “The Emperor’s Son”-One man show in the Grand Lobby of the Westin Casuarina, May 2005
  • “Fahive”-Native Sons exhibition at the Cayman Islands National Gallery
  • “The Collections”- The Morgan Gallery exhibition- December 2006
  • “Cayman: An ever-changing Landscape”- The Cayman Islands National Gallery, June 2007
  • “Grass Piece”- Native Sons Exhibition at the Morgan Gallery, February, 2008
  • Featured Artist- “A Day in the Life” Artist in Residence Programme, Cayman Islands National Gallery, April 2008
  • One man Show- “The Tao” Arch Automotive Audi Showroom, October 2008
  • “Boogey man”- Native Sons Exhibition at The Morgan gallery, February 2009
  • “Emerge”- Exhibition at The Gallery at The Ritz-Carlton, April 2009

Randy’s painting “Evening Time Again” – for sale @ travelgalart.com

Randy’s painting “Therefore The Sage” – For sale @ travelgalart.com

Nasaria Suckoo Chollette, artist, storyteller and educator

“I hope that the viewer walks away with a strong reaction to my work, whether it be positive or negative. Art that stirs nothing in a person is not art at all.” – Nasaria Suckoo Chollette

Born 1968 to Virginia & Alva Suckoo, Nasaria was always the dramatic child. Her family did not get television until she was eleven years old, so she learned how to explore new worlds through her imagination.  She read all the time and often got so involved in the story that she was emotionally affected by sad events and scary situations.  She and her brother Alva explored the bushes of Breezy Castle, fighting fictional pirates and imaginary foes, always the heroes of course.

As time went on, Nasaria continued to involve herself in literary venture, writing poetry, short stories and songs.  It was not until college that she took a real interest in painting, beginning with painting pictures on jeans pants for her college friends and the occasional canvas piece for others.  It was out of a lack of funds that she kept on painting, preferring to give personal gifts rather than store bought.

From there Nasaria honed and developed her skills, joining the acclaimed “Native Sons” and showing her works at local venues.  She took several art classes at New York University in 1999, while pursuing a Master’s Degree in Educational Theatre.  Upon her return to Cayman, she entered the McCoy Prize art competition and showed her works at the Kensington Lott exhibition, “Blue”.  The National Gallery and the National Museum have both invited Nasaria for showings.

Nasaria’s early works were primarily acrylic on canvas, but she has recently started branching out into new and exciting mediums. Her subject matter varies from religious themes to childbirth to festive costumed pieces.  Her forages into new artistic areas has resulted in a much talked about expressionistic piece for the 2004 McCoy Prize competition, entitled “Middle Passage” and a very sought after piece entitled, ‘The Women Have Become The Truth” which premiered at the National Gallery’s 2005 retrospective exhibition of works by Natives Sons.  The iguana that she painted for the National Gallery’s “Blue Iguana Project” can be seen in its permanent home at Rum Point.

 

 

When Randy Chollette and Nasaria Suckoo Chollette Pulled Up

November 11, 2012

Randy and Nasaria pulled up in the gas station as if a director just called “Action.”

I was sitting on the beach with artist Nickola McCoy Snell at the GrapeTree Café in Bodden Town.  She was in the midst of sharing some stories of her childhood friends and how she’d like them to be involved in Travel Gal too.  Of course, one of those friends was Randy, who just arrived at the scene.

Nickola waved him over.  Up walked Randy and his spunky wife Nasaria.  Randy is an amazing self-taught artist on the island (you’ll be able to check out his work on travelgalart.com soon).  And his wife, an artist in her own right, was the educational coordinator at the National Museum.

Now what you might not know unless you read my older posts, is that this moment on the beach was about 3 months in the making.  After my failed attempts to connect with any artists in Grand Cayman via email prior to my arrival on the island, I went on a week long search for Nickola.  And I had all but given up when I was suddenly connected to her through another artist I met along the way.  Honestly, I had lost all hope at that point.  And I had given up on the idea of even working with any artists from the island.   Now, here I was, literally 24 hours after throwing my hands up in the air, surrounded by some of the islands most premiere talents.  How’s that for serendipity?

My new Cayman friends Nickola (and her son TJ), Randy and Nasaria at the Grapetree Cafe

Once Randy and Nasaria arrived the energy rose to a whole new level.  I got to share my hopes for Travel Gal with them and they entertained me with the stories of the island’s East vs. West cooking competition.

“People on the West side are always running so fast, they don’t take the time to do things right,” said Nasaria.  This lead into a spirited discussion on the difference between how Turtle and Fish are prepared on the West side in comparison to the East side.

“I just don’t get anyone that would rather use coconut from a can than to pick it fresh off the tree.  That’s just sacrilegious in my book,” said Nasaria.  Pure gold kept spinning from her lips.  And from the descriptions and the humorous banter between them all, I knew my future on the island would be a heaping plate of East side cuisine.

You see it’s moments like this that make travel so amazing for me.  I do like to see the sites but what I’m really after on any adventure is a moment of pure authenticity.  I seek opportunities to experience a snapshot of real life presented in a way that only a local could present it.  The 3 hours I spent talking to Nickola on the beach and the surprise appearance of Randy and Nasaria made the entire week I spent on the island worth it.

The banter.

The laughter.

The stories of the island from the people of the island.  You just can’t get that from a tourist book or by merely looking at historic artifacts.

And so, it began.  Nickola and I agreed to start building the very first Travel Gal Adventure to Grand Cayman.  After a month or so of planning, I received a disturbing email.

“Sorry for the long delay. However, there have been some major changes here in Cayman recently. We are now leaving the Islands to go back to England. It is a decision not taken lightly and one that was made within the last week. The political and economic uncertainty here along with no job has played a major part in our decision. I am seeking another artist to do the Travel Gal workshop and tours with you and Gordon Solomon has stepped up. I am including his email here for you to contact him directly as we will be leaving within a few days and cannot foresee when we will be back.  Again, I am sorry and wish you the best.  Regards, Nickola”

It took me a minute to absorb the news.

I was sad for the incredible stress and pressure I assumed Nickola and her family must have experienced in coming to their decision to leave.  I was fearful I wouldn’t be able to regroup with a new set of artists and make it all happen.  But mostly, I was excited for the unknown adventure that was about to unfold.

I emailed Gordon and set up a Skype call to discuss my ideas.

I launched my webcam and waited for Gordon to sign on, anxious to hear his thoughts and see where this new path would take me.

“Loading….,” came across my screen.  And what did I first see when Gordon’s camera first popped up?  Randy!  Are you kidding me?  This Randy just kept popping up at exactly the right moment.  “Hot damn!  Now, this is going to be good,” I thought to myself.

Gordon and his wife Alta, had rounded up Randy and his wife Nasaria to all throw their passion for Cayman culture and art into the Travel Gal mix.  As Randy, Gordon and I were getting to know each other and discuss this new adventure, in popped Alta from the side of the screen.

“You are helping us realize a long standing dream to share our culture through our experiences.  And we have lots of ideas.”

Over the years, as the island has grown and become more commercialized, it’s been more and more of a challenge for Caymans to hold onto, much less share their traditions.  It was touching to share this moment with them.  To my new friends on the island, I was helping them realize a dream.  But all I could think about was how they were helping me realize my own dream.  I guess you can’t ask for more than that.

My grandma used to always tell me “Be patient.  If it was meant to be, it will be.”  Now, I had absolutely no use for these words when I was 7.  I wanted everything NOW and NOW, or else.  Her words held real meaning to me though as I watched the expressions on the faces of Gordon, Alta and Randy.

WE were meant to be.

Ever since this Skype call, my new Grand Cayman artist team and I have been building the very first Travel Gal Adventure.  It’s a unique opportunity for a small group of explorers to experience the island through the eyes of the artists that represent it.   We’re going to give an insiders perspective into Cayman culture as travelers take part in cooking a Cayman delicacy…play with paint as our artists guide them through making their own creation…meet local fishermen as they come in with their catches of the day…experience the reef and friendly Sting Rays as a local would (on our own boat) and join in on a beach front jam session.  If you’re looking for a truly authentic travel experience, you should come along.  I can’t wait to see what unfolds.

If you want to know more, just send me a note.  I’ll also be posting all the details soon so stay tuned.

How I Met Gordon & Alta Solomon

November 10, 2012
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What a beautiful island to call home

Gordon was the first artist I found online when I was planning my trip to Grand Cayman.  I knew the minute I saw his work that I needed to meet him.  Since the only contact information I could find was through a gallery owner, I sent her a note to see if she could introduce me.

I never heard back.  But as I continued to look for information, I noticed that this gallery owner was an artist herself.  And a damn good one at that.  Since I wasn’t having any luck connecting prior to my departure, I just decided that my trip would include a “search” for Nickola McCoy, gallery owner and Grand Cayman artist.  Why not?  It sounded like a good way to add a little adventure into the mix of a “lay on the beach” vacation.

After a week of searching for Nickola, I finally found her.  I won’t re-tell the tale as it’s featured on my blog.  Feel free to go take a read at http://bit.ly/Udzkp0 .  What I will share with you is that my meeting with Nickola was the spark I needed to launch Travel Gal Adventures.  And so, we started creating a week long exploration of art and culture on the island.  But after a few months of planning, I received a disturbing email.

“Sorry for the long delay. However, there have been some major changes here in Cayman recently. We are now leaving the Islands to go back to England. It is a decision not taken lightly and one that was made within the last week. The political and economic uncertainty here along with no job has played a major part in our decision. I am seeking another artist to do the Travel Gal workshop and tours with you and Gordon Solomon has stepped up. I am including his email here for you to contact him directly as we will be leaving within a few days and cannot foresee when we will be back.  Again, I am sorry and wish you the best.  Regards, Nickola”

It took me a minute to absorb the news.

I was sad for the incredible stress and pressure I assumed Nickola and her family must have experienced in coming to their decision to leave.  I was fearful I wouldn’t be able to regroup with a new set of artists and make it all happen.  But mostly, I was excited for the unknown adventure that was about to unfold.

And, how amazing that this long and winding path, lead me directly back to the place I started.  Something felt very right to me as I drafted my introductory email to Gordon.  Within minutes of clicking “send,” Gordon responded and we set up a time to Skype.

I launched my webcam and waited for Gordon to sign on, anxious to hear his thoughts and see where this new path would take me.

“Loading….,” came across my screen.  To my surprise, when the camera opened up, the scene at Gordon’s home was more than just Gordon.  He had invited Mr. Randy Chollette to the call, an artist I met on the beach with Nickola three months earlier. An artist that I always assumed would be part of this adventure but somehow his involvement vanished along the way for reasons that were never shared with me.  None of that mattered now though.  Because here he was sitting alongside of his friend Gordon, smiling and all geared up to join the journey.  My spiritual connection to this team on the island was feeling stronger by the minute.

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Meet Mr. Randy Chollette

I honestly don’t know if Gordon and his wife Alta realize this, but it was an incredible gesture for them to take my vision and the lead from Nickola, and so masterfully reflect it back to me with such passion and vigor.  They embraced my dream and pulled others into it before we even had a chance to wave hello.  Remarkable!  Truly remarkable.

As Randy, Gordon and I were getting to know each other and discuss this new adventure, in popped Alta from the side of the screen.

“You are helping us realize a long standing dream to share our culture with others.  And we have lots of ideas.  Can we share them?”

“You bet.  Continue!” I said.

Alta and this Cayman crew wanted to create a very personal experience for Travel Gal explorers.  They were eager and passionate about sharing their culture. We spoke about Gordon and Randy showing us how the island and its people have inspired their work.  We spoke about them guiding us through the creation of our own paintings, Alta sharing her excitement for Cayman cooking and poetry, Nasaria, Randy’s wife, engaging us with her stories and personal tours of the historic sites.  All this and more sprinkled with observations and experiences only one born and raised on the island could possibly share.  It was exactly what I first envisioned for Travel Gal when I launched it 3 years ago.  This amazing team of Cayman creative spirits was now aligned.  It was clear; this would be a one-of-a-kind travel experience.

Over the years, as the island has grown and become more commercialized, it’s been more and more of a challenge for Caymans to hold onto, much less share, their traditions.  Travel Gal is the perfect outlet for them to pass their culture onto others.  And this was the perfect time for it all to come together.  To my new friends on the island, I was helping them realize a dream.  But all I could think about was how they were helping me realize my own dream.  I guess you can’t ask for more than that.

My grandma used to always tell me “Be patient.  If it was meant to be, it will be.”  Now, I had absolutely no use for these words when I was 7.  I wanted everything NOW and NOW, or else.  Her words held real meaning to me though as I watched the expressions on the faces of Gordon, Alta and Randy.

WE were meant to be.

Ever since this Skype call, my new Grand Cayman artist team and I have been building the very first Travel Gal Adventure.  It’s a unique opportunity for a small group of explorers to experience the island through the eyes of the artists that represent it.   We’ll get an insiders perspective into Cayman culture as we get our hands dirty in the kitchen cooking a Cayman delicacy…play with paint as our artists guide us through their creative process…meet local fishermen coming in with their catches of the day…experience the reef and friendly Sting Rays as a local would (on our own boat) and make as much noise as we want at our own beach front jam session.

The packages will be ready soon.  If you’re already feelin’ it and want in on this adventure, send me a note so I can make sure you know first.

Want to learn more about Gordon & Alta?  Check it out here! (http://bit.ly/RoNWUj)

Meet My New Friends, Grand Cayman artists Gordon & Alta Solomon

November 9, 2012
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I can feel Gordon Solomon’s creative spirit right through this photo

My inspiration for painting isn’t outside of me, it’s given from spirit.  I see myself no different from anyone else, I just maximize my gift. I am blessed to have the talent to paint, create and inspire; my paintings come from my heart, my spirit.  Subject matter isn’t restricted to any one thing, which I feel my paintings can appeal to many and I hope that those who view them learn something, that my art evokes a feeling or thoughts because I want to motivate and nourish others talents and spirit as well. Encourage dialogue; see, appreciate and expand their creativity, because being able to brings fulfillment in my life.  Cayman’s culture is my inspiration, all relevant history & traditions, our spirituality. I want to give people these things when I paint, just as I have been given them.

Some of Gordon’s artistic accomplishments include:

  • In early 1999, Gordon had his first exhibition with the Caymanian Art organization, “Native Son’s”
  • A few months later, The National Gallery, Grand Cayman challenged Gordon to design the exterior of a vehicle during the annual “Cayfest” art exhibition. Gordon’s painting was hailed as “magnificent” and “a masterpiece” by onlookers. The car has since been on display at various functions for the National Gallery and the annual festival.
  • At the beginning of 2002 Gordon was employed with the Cayman islands Marine Institute as their Art instructor. It was while he was at the Institute Gordon took on the monumental task of illustrating the past and “present” history of the Cayman Islands on the walls of the school, and with the assistance of his students it was completed in 4 months.
  • December of 2002 brought with it one of Gordon’s greatest accomplishments to date as he was named recipient of The Cayman National Cultural Foundation’s “ Artistic Endeavour Award”, being honoured with demonstrating great potential in his field of art.
  • At the beginning of 2003 Gordon was commissioned to paint a mural on the outer wall of the Martins Creative Empowerment youth Centre. Gordon has also created murals on “The Mango Tree restaurant”, “The Globe Bar”, The Macro Matrix”, “The SDA Church in Newlands”, and several private commissioned murals within homes.
  • During 2003 Gordon spent six months developing his skills in fine arts at the University of Superior Art in Cuba.
  • The Westin Casuarina Hotel was home to Gordon’s acclaimed solo exhibition in September 2005. He also exhibited in the Cayman Islands Museum, The Visual Arts Society, Art@theGovernors and the McCoy Prize competition.
  • June 2012, Gordon was honored with the Ogier Art Award, 2nd place recipient

Gordon has undoubtedly made an impressive move into the world of fine art, and has firmly established his artistic roots in its core.

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A joy of life seems to radiate from Alta.

 

Like many artists, Alta Solomon discovered her talent through personal exploration and the need to “escape” as a teenager. Born in Cayman Brac and the youngest of five girls, she grew up enjoying the beauty and solitude of the Sister Islands with family ties to both the Brac and Little Cayman.

Her childhood was spent working in the family business, as part of a team who had high expectations and little time for creative pursuits.  But it was this discipline and sense of belonging that seeded a true appreciation for her island home and the desire to “enjoy my islands to the fullest”.

It was a birthday present, received in her early teens that opened a new sense of awareness and wonder through the eye of the camera lenses. Capturing images of friends, family and the natural beauty of the Brac, provided a new outlook on life and became a passion that grew over the years.

Artistic expression has always been a part of Alta’s life, whether it was painting & pencil drawing during her school years, or being part a musical trio in the Cayman Brac high school band. This love for the Arts was re-ignited after Alta met her husband Gordon following a move to Grand Cayman in 1988, who gifted her with a camera to celebrate their first celebration together of her birthday.

Today, while working as Coordinator of the National Council of Voluntary Organizations, she balances her professional obligations with the personal commitments as a mother of two, while still nurturing her “3rd child” and favorite pastime: Photography, along with cooking sweet Caymanian treats, writing poetry and singing with her artist/musician husband Gordon.

In the ensuing years, she began to make her way into the art scene through photography, crafts, song and poetry. Exhibiting when and where ever she could, Alta has continued to grow as an artist embracing new opportunities for artistic expression and enjoying the “exciting & rewarding effort to be apart of our countries artistic heritage”.

Some of her photography exhibitions have included:

  • McCoy Prize –Fine art Photography/Fine art Craft
  • Art @ the Governors, Grand Cayman – Craft
  • The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands “Portrait of an Artist” & “Body Talk” – Photography
  • Broadway Gallery – NY NY – “Caymanian in NY” –Photography (Joint Exhibit with Gordon Solomon)
  • Full of Beans, Georgetown, Grand Cayman– “The Painter Muse” – Poetry (joint exhibit with Gordon Solomon)
  • Ritz Carlton Gallery, Grand Cayman – Photography “Couples
  • Arteccentrix fine art gallery – “Sweet Life” (Joint Exhibit with Gordon Solomon)

    Until Infinity – Gordon Solomon

Children of The Day – Gordon Solomon

Ada Colorina In Chicago!

October 19, 2012

It was almost too good to be true when I opened the email from Ada.

“I think I’m coming to Chicago but I not sure.”

“Why?”

“Not sure about the money.”

“Well, say no more.  Te puedes quedar en mi casa. No le costará nada. (translation…I hope :):  You can stay at my house.  It will cost you nothing!”

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A cloudy day in Chicago…but that didn’t dampen our spirits!

And so she came.

Ada was actually the first artist I met when Travel Gal was just a seed about the break through.  I was celebrating the holidays in Puerto Vallarta with some good friends in ’08.  I knew when I returned from that vacation I would be resigning from my job to take a well needed break from the corporate gig that had consumed 10+ years of my life.  I wanted to create a business that allowed me to dive into my passion for art, travel and explorations of different cultures around the world.  I knew it would be important to find artists that shared their personal experiences of the culture that surrounded them through their work.   Ada’s colorful work embodies this spirit.

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Image (Top Picture) Ada with Alberto Foncerrada from the Consulate General of Mexico enjoying her work
(Bottom Picture) Ada with her new friend Jim, at the Travel Gal Exhibition at the Bamboo Lounge

So here we were…3 years later and Ada was now coming to my home town to share her work at a series of events created by the Sister Cities Foundation and her representing gallery “The Genius of Paco” in Puerto Vallarta.  The week started with an exhibit at the National Museum of Mexican Fine Art in Pilsen, continued with the Sister Cities Gourmet Gala in Highland Park and ended with the very first Travel Gal exhibition presented at the Bamboo Lounge in Wicker Park.

Now, even though all these events were amazing!  The most special part of the week was hosting Ada in my home.  Before she came to Chicago, we were friends.  But now, she is part of my family.  We shared family meals, sat in the front room and built puzzles with my 2 year old daughter Olivia, visited my parents home, sampled gourmet hot dogs at Dawgs N’ Franks on Clybourn Ave. and met all kinds of new people linked together by a deep passion for Puerto Vallarta.  And of course, I couldn’t let her leave without a personal tour of the city.

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Ada and my family enjoying the BEAN…

When I first met Ada, it was a dream to work with her but hard to convey exactly what I had in mind due to my lack of ability in Spanish.  But now, her English has drastically improved…and my Spanish is probably about as good as my 2 yr. old’s English.  🙂  But that’s an improvement.  What was a dream 3 years ago is finally started to take shape.  We were able to sell 3 of Ada’s paintings at our show.  I still have 10 paintings here in Chicago to sell and so I am sharing them with you here.  Take a look and please do let me know if you’re interested in learning more.  We are also currently developing a Travel Gal Adventure to work with Ada in Puerto Vallarta so keep a look out for updates on that.

And, if you’re interested in coming on a Travel Gal Adventure next Spring…come join me in Grand Cayman.  I’m just finalizing all the details of that trip now and we should be ready to sell the packages in 2 weeks.  EXCITING TRAVEL GAL TIMES…yes, indeed.

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Paradiso Terrenal :  For sale at travelgalart.com

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La Cocina de la Abuela : For sale @ travelgalart.com

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Dia Soleado :  SOLD

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Calaverita de Frida – For Sale @ travelgalart.com.

Want to see more…send me a note through WordPress with your email, and I’ll be in touch!!!

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