Mrs. B. was my fourth grade teacher at the Bryker Woods Elementary School in Austin, Texas. Since I was leaving the USA after three years there, to return to my home country, she came up with the idea of having Venezuelan days in the classroom as a farewell from my classmates. My dad was invited to play Venezuelan folks music with his “cuatro”, a four string guitar similar to the ukulele and we talked about our typical food (arepas, hallacas, etc.), traditions, how we spent christmas, and so on.
At the end of these events, my teacher asked me to paint a picture of Venezuela. So I did.
At that time, Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, was a very cosmopolitan
and modern city (before socialism took over) with beautiful big green parks, very tall buildings and lots of traffic. And that was the painting she got.
The thing is, Mrs. B. wanted “indians”!
There are many aborigines in my country, but very far away from the big cities. At that age, the only “indians” I had seen were on US American TV.
So, I made this very elaborate and beautiful painting of,
what for me, were indians:
pretty Hawaiian girls with palm skirts dancing hula-hula at a Luau while some Apaches with their feathers were galloping around on their horses.
Think of it as “Gilligan’s Island” meets “The Love Boat”.
That was my first comission! And Mrs. B. was so happy.