Coming June 1: An Epic New Bocas Town Mural in Honor of Bocatoreño Legend Guillermo Sánchez Borbón (Pen Name Tristán Solarte) and His Most Famous Work El Ahogado!
June 1, 2022, will bring an exciting new addition to Bocas’ cultural landscape: a mural behind the historic Gran Hotel Bahía in honor of brilliant Bocatoreño poet, author, journalist, and activist Guillermo Sánchez-Borbón (pen name Tristán Solarte) and his seminal work El Ahogado.
Mr. Sánchez-Borbón, who was born in Bocas del Toro in 1924 and lived here much of his life and whose childhood home is now where the hotel Tropical Suites stands, was one of Panama’s most illustrious and revered literary figures and so much more.
Writing poetry and novels under his pen name (which itself pays tribute to his beloved archipelago), he won numerous literary prizes in Panama and beyond and is the only Panamanian author included in the “Mil Libros” catalog, which highlights the one thousand best books in the world as chosen by literary experts. His writing is filled with incredibly vivid scenes of the archipelago, beautifully-crafted language, complex and fascinating stories and characters, and profound philosophy and wisdom.
In addition to his literary prowess, Mr. Sánchez-Borbón was a highly accomplished and decorated journalist who for many years penned the popular “La Prensa” column “En Pocas Palabras” and spoke out courageously and powerfully against military dictatorship, even in the face of multiple imprisonments and exiles.
Superstar artist (and the son of Bocatoreño parents and painter of Bocas’ Luis Russell mural) Sergio Smith AKA “MadMagos” will be back in town the end of this month to create the new Solarte/El Ahogado mural, with the mural celebration beginning at 5pm on June 1 at Gran Hotel Bahia. The celebration will continue at Buena Vista at 7:30pm. The event is open to the public with all invited.
This also will mark the first public celebration of June 1 as “Día de Literatura” in Bocas del Toro since the Panamanian government designated it as such in 2018 in honor of Mr. Sánchez Borbón and his brother José MarÍa Sánchez Borbón (also an accomplished author).
It is a great honor to invite everyone to join us on June 1, 2022, at 5pm to celebrate this momentous occasion. Watch the Breeze in the coming days for a parade of fascinating Guillermo Sánchez Borbón-related content, including a series of “Who Was Guillermo Sánchez Borbón?” posts, plus video messages about the mural from his close friends and family, a special feature on MadMagos, and our Bocas Breeze exclusive interview with “the man behind the mural” Mr. Josh Whitlock.
The coverage continues tomorrow with “Who is Guillermo Sánchez Borbón: World-Class Poet and Author Tristán Solarte.”
Special thanks to Josh Whitlock for spearheading the mural and sponsoring the artist’s materials and labor and related costs; to Raul Houlstan, Ariel Pérez Price, Nicholas Corea, Erwyn Mackee, José “Pepo” Thomas, Darla Thomas, Temístocles Sánchez, Dianelsa Sánchez de Barrios, Ana Sofía Barrios Sánchez, I. Roberto “Bobby” Eisenmann, and others for their invaluable organizational and logistical efforts, artistic input, and other contributions; to Gran Hotel Bahía for generously providing the mural wall plus lodging for the artist and others; and to Buena Vista, Receta Michilá, Octo, Super Gourmet and Air Panama for graciously donating food and airfare, as well as other crucial contributions, in support of this effort.