A Panamanian Artist’s Birthday Party

I’ve been taking painting classes for a little while with Victor Aguirre Chiru at Centro de Arte José Cáceres O. Last weekend was a party for the professor’s birthday and to commemorate 30 years of painting,  and he invited me to come. Of course, I wouldn’t pass this up! He’s a special man and it’s always interesting to see how people here celebrate.

The party was at the restaurant El Rincón Español. They had a room set up, so when enough people had arrived everyone was ushered in to the party room. First, the music teacher spoke and welcomed everyone to the party, said good things about Senor Chirú, and said how happy he was to have everyone there to celebrate this occasion.


Then, the secretary spoke, and read a very detailed and interesting biography of the artist.


Then Senor Chirú himself spoke, saying how happy he was that everyone was there, and how much he enjoyed teaching and sharing art with everyone, young and old. That is one of his paintings behind him.


I didn’t take notes and don’t remember exactly everything that was said or what order things happened, but I think I have the general ideas. Happy Birthday was sung, special music was played for the artist, and then people posed for photos with him in front of his painting.


The artist’s father also spoke. I had a chance to talk with him quite a bit before the party got underway, which was a real pleasure.

There was a cool birthday cake in the shape of an artist’s palette. The 54 is for his age, and the words say – 30 years of painting.


There was music throughout the evening. The young man at the keyboard (visible in some of the other photos) is a student at the school, the son of the secretary, and a very accomplished pianist. The first time I heard him I had to run out of art class to see who was playing so well! The guitar player in the corner is the music teacher, and I don’t know the other two people. The drummer was very interesting. His drum looked like a wooden box that he sat on, and he had castanets on his hands. I’d never seen anything like this but it worked out great.


There was food and wine. Food was brought out a little at a time, first a potato dish and some sinfully delicious seafood balls with cheese, then fried fish bits with a dip, a seafood filled sort of pie or casserole with a crust, and it was all really good. There was a wonderful sangria, bottled red wine, ice water, or you could order anything else from the restaurant staff.

This sweet girl is usually in art class when I’m there. She has learned a lot of English in school and likes to practice it with me. She posed for a photo by the cake so I snapped one of her too.


There was a drawing for one of Chirú’s paintings, and the girl was enlisted to pull the winning card out of the bag.


This woman was the lucky winner of the painting.


Even the little girl got up and spoke about being an art student and how much she appreciated our teacher.


I’ll leave you with a bit of Happy Birthday and other music from the party to listen to while you browse through the pictures.

It was a very fun evening and I was honored to have been invited!




About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
This entry was posted in culture, Miscellaneous, Panama and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A Panamanian Artist’s Birthday Party

  1. Larry K Brown says:

    Kris, the drum is a cajone, originated in Peru, when I lived there, I use to go see whole bands that were on cajones. I like your stuff, thank you


  2. What a fun party! I love the music and that is interesting about the drum 🙂


  3. Por favor, more pictures of your paintings! ;>}}


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