The Garifuna culture has fostered many talented painters, musicians and craftsmen. Art and handicraft play an important part in the documentation and preservation of the colorful and unique Garifuna culture. The drum- or basket maker?s traditional handicraft tells an important part of the Garifuna story. This is one of the reasons it is so important to pass on handicraft skills to coming generations. Similarly, the artists? paintings document life of the Garinagu through times.
Benjamin Nicholas and Pen Cayetano are both famous painters. Examples of skilled craftsmen are Austin Rodriques (Dangriga) who makes traditional Garifuna drums and Victor Nicholas (Barranco) who makes traditional Garifuna baskets.
|Ben Nicholas paints in his studio every day|
Ben Nicholas was born 1930 in Boyo Creek near Barranco in southern Belize. He studied Art at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design at the University of Minnesota. His paintings are inspired by the daily life he experienced in his youth. His colourful paintings depict Garifuna dance, drumming and other aspects of the culture such as cassava bread making, fishing and family scenes. Today, Ben Nicholas is regarded as the great visual narrator of Garifuna origins and settlements in Belize.
|Dancing Punta, Ben Nicholas 2004|
Ben Nicholas lives in Dangriga and works every day in his small studio. “I am still growing as an artist”, he says. Recognized as a painter Ben Nicholas has received a MBE (Member of the British Empire) from Queen Elizabeth. His paintings can be found in museums all over the world including the Smithsonian.
Pen Cayetano was born 1954 in Dangriga in the southern part of Belize. He is a self-taught painter and musician. Already in Primary school he showed interest in art and music and while growing up he studied
|The artist in his gallery in Dangriga|
Garifuna and Creole culture. Pen Cayetano met and studied with fellow artist Benjamin Nicholas and they have held several joint exhibitions and musical shows.
As an Ambassador of Belizean Art and Music Pen Cayetano has had many exhibitions in the USA. In 1990 he moved his studio to Ahrweiler, Germany, where he lives with his family. Cayetano continues to portray the Garifuna culture but also paints landscapes of Germany, his new adopted home. His paintings have been shown in Germany, Hong Kong, Austria, Switzerland, England and the USA. At least once a year he travels to Belize to exhibit his Art and perform his music.
|In Dangriga you can visit the famous drummaker Austin Rodriguez in his workshop by the sea|
One of the oldest Garifuna crafts is drummaking. The rhythms played on Garifuna drums all descend from West Africa and take up a very important role in Garifuna music. The drums are made by h