Inspired Artists in (Sweet Love) Bocas by Nicholas Corea
Inspiration is everywhere on the islands of Bocas del Toro and artists Fulo Coqueño and Cath Vel have found plenty of it during their times in Bocas. On February 26th, lovers of art gathered at the Indi Lounge to experience their work and mingle amongst flowing libations, smiling faces, sweet beats and inspirational vibes. Let’s meet the artists…
Fulo Coqueño moved from his hometown of Chorrera to Panama’s capital city at the age of 19 and it was there where he began to first embrace his artistic ability. He always loved to draw but while living in Panama’s urban metropolis he decided to express himself through graffiti:
“The graffiti scene had just begun in Panama and I was watching people paint and there were stores where you could buy spray paints for 50 cents. So with $20, I had 40 cans and the street was just there. Nobody was painting graffiti in the city so it was really easy for us to paint.”
If you see “Sweet” anywhere in Panama, that would be Mr. Fulo Coqueño’s tag. When you see “Sweet Love Bocas”, there’s Fulo at it again. More on Sweet Love Bocas in a bit.
By the looks of the 20 pieces hanging around the Indi Lounge, its obvious that Fulo has come along way with his art and his cans of aerosol. His work is under the guise of Kunda Art, an homage to his sweet golden retriever/compañero. Nowadays he works with acrylic paint, oil, markers and he has yet to give up his faithful spray can. His art focuses on the beauty of women, which he usually expresses through profiles of African women with afros, often with messages in their hair like “I’m proud to be a natural beauty.” His other main theme is peace. With so many bad things happening in the world, he feels its important to remind people to “make art, not war”.
His other campaign is wildly successful and can be seen tagged all over Bocas and even tagged on t-shirts of tourists and friends alike. The campaign is known as “Sweet Love Bocas.” What started as a simple graffiti tag has blossomed into sort of a Bocas mantra that Fulo hopes will inspire respect and (sweet) love to Bocas as a destination to all who visit it. He is in awe of the positive reaction that the “Sweet Love” tags have inspired, both receiving and transmitting positive energy to all who read it and embrace it. He elaborates, “Sweet love is when you come here for a week and then you realize that you want to change your plane ticket. Then you start looking for a job and the magnet of Bocas gets you.” Well said, Fulo.
Cath Vel was “super bored” one day, wanted to do something and out of nowhere she picked up some cardboard and began to draw on it. Now it’s five years later and she is presenting 26 different pieces at her own art exhibit. Kudos Cath!
She began to collect cardboard boxes and corks from the Ultimo Refugio restaurant where she worked before as a bartender, which interestingly enough is a place where our other featured artist Fulo has been known to work. There must be something in the water (or in the seared Tuna) that inspires the front of house staff in such a way.
Anyway, she took home the recycled materials from her job and began to draw, paint and design original compositions incorporating layering techniques. Faces and female sensuality are common themes in her work. Her art is driven by her emotions and “in the end it’s like a puzzle,” as she puts it. She uses primarily cardboard, corks, fabric and any recycled material she can get her hands on that will fit the piece.
Also on exhibit that evening were the works of Balbino Baquero, which you can see his mural pictured below and in Munchies Burger Bar (main street, Isla Colon, in front of Bocas Marine Tours).
Thank you Fulo, Cath and Balbino for your sharing your art and congratulations! Special mention to DJ Girzzly Grimace, DJ Von Suckass and DJ Shaper for making everyone dance and a very big thank you goes out to all those who came out support the arts in Bocas. Without fans of art, there is no art exhibition!