Christmas on the Fly River, Papua New Guinea

Sketch from Caroline's book "New Guinea Headhunt" of the upside-down palmetto used as a Christmas tree.
Sketch from Caroline’s book “New Guinea Headhunt” of the upside-down palmetto used as a Christmas tree.

In 1929, Caroline and Margaret were determined to celebrate the holiday in this remote part of Papua New Guinea.  A “make do” tree was a “palmetto that had been turned upside-down which gave the branches the proper tannenbaum swoop”.  A roll of toilet paper was shaped and formed to use along with red and yellow lace and draped around the tree.  Pairs of socks were filled to look like balls but Margaret’s lighting was sheer genius according to Caroline.   Margaret went to the river and collected leaves and pieces of bark which was tied around the stalk.  Once the sun set and the daylight diminished, the whole tree glowed with fireflies and stayed the entire night.  To quote from Caroline’s book New Guinea Headhunt, “They were attracted there either by the leaves or by the ladies on the leaves, and in either case made the only truly astral light we have ever seen coming from a Christmas tree.”

A wonderful and whimsical drawing from Caroline's journal of sketches from the expedition.
A wonderful and whimsical drawing from Caroline’s journal of sketches from the expedition.

They ate a Christmas dinner of tinned mutton, yams and taro from the garden and dessert was an ambrosia made from puny little oranges, bananas and shredded coconut.  Margaret used her musical talents with the ukulele, which by this time in their long journey, had only two strings remaining.  The local hosts and the ladies laughed and sang the evening away.  Caroline’s last thought of the evening was “This Christmas our thoughts did not wander nostalgically the thousands of miles to home.  We had been gone too long; we had learned what every good traveler must, to live our lives where we found ourselves.”

Best wishes for the Holiday Season and remember Caroline’s words to live life wherever you are.

Composer Announcement: Icarus Music

IcarusMusicI met Eddie at Icarus Music during the incredible Blue Ocean Film Festival in Monterey, CA over a year ago.  He has contributed his talent for composing music in significant films over the years on marine conservation – and many other memorable topics.  It wasn’t until a couple of months ago when I received a call from him about Headhunt Revisited.  His enthusiasm about the story was engaging. With experience composing World music for a number of Independent Documentary’s, I can’t wait to hear what Icarus Music will put together to accompany Caroline’s story!


The successful partnership between award-winning composers Eddie Freeman and Marta Victoria is the driving force behind the creative process at Icarus Music. This energetic duo holds degrees in audio engineering, television, writing, music and film. Tapping on that and their thirty plus years of industry experience, they are able to quickly and intelligently compose and engineer beautiful, high-quality works for all manner of clients. When it comes to Icarus Music, these two artists pursue the same goal … to musically realize each project’s unique story and to completely satisfy and enhance every client’s vision.

Icarus Music has composed and produced hundreds of scores for films, venues and television programming. Clients include: BBC, Discovery Channel, Disney, DreamWorks, Knowledge Adventure, Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, Mattel Toys, National Geographic, NOAA, PBS, Turner Broadcasting and ZDF.

Learn more about Icarus music here

Script Writer Announcement: Elle Russ

Adding to our growing team members for Headhunt Revisited is script writer for the documentary film, Elle Russ.   I met Elle many years ago at a conference and was impressed by her energy – physical and mental.  When we sat down, I told her the story of Caroline and Margaret.  Her reaction was nothing short of astonishment that these  two young women of the 1920s would take on such a dangerous journey to paint portraits.  Over the years, Elle has demonstrated her belief in the Headhunt Revisited goals. 



A native of downtown Chicago, Elle launched her passion for writing at the world famous The Second City, Chicago where she wrote and performed sketch comedy.  After moving to Los Angeles, Elle continued sketch comedy writing as a main company member at the renowned Acme Comedy Theater in Hollywood.  Elle eventually broadened her writing horizons to include TV & Film and currently writes within a variety of genres:  Drama, comedy, natural history, and documentary.

Writer Announcement: Deborah Kirk

I couldn’t be more pleased to announce that a good friend of mine, Deborah Kirk, will be writing Headhunt Revisited – the book. Deborah and I have collaborated on many travel stories, including pieces about Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Caribbean, and Mexico.  I have admired her work for years and couldn’t think of anyone better to tell Caroline’s story.

Kirk_PointReyes_vDeborah Kirk is a writer and editor based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is currently the Editorial Director of Diablo Custom Publishing (DCP), which produces magazines for universities, museums, and many other clients. She has been a senior editor at Scuba Diving magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle, and has written for Travel and Leisure, Rolling Stone, Interview, and many other publications. Deborah has edited books for Rizzoli and the Smithsonian Institution, and has launched and edited Spanish-language magazines in Panama and the Dominican Republic.

Deborah is excited to be contributing to the Mytinger project, which reflects many of her wide-ranging interests: art, exploration, Papua New Guinean culture, biography, and literature. Deborah recently visited Caroline’s home in Monterey and the Monterey Museum of Art to review Caroline’s scrapbooks and familiarize herself with Caroline’s story. Her research has also led to a number of letters that Caroline had written to family members and the discovery of newspaper articles on file at the Cleveland Museum of Art!

Connecting Caroline with Contemporary Artist Jeffry Feeger

I had the pleasure of seeing Jeffry Feeger, a contemporary artist from Papua New Guinea, perform live at Feather in New York this July.  It also gave me the opportunity to interview him about the collaboration of Headhunt Revisited and his work in Art Stret Gallery’s “One World – Two Visions” exhibition.

In his own words, Jeffry shares why he believes bringing Caroline’s paintings back into public view is important and how he sees the connection to his beautiful portraits. There are marked differences between Jeffry’s work and Caroline’s – a span of almost 100 years, gender difference and most significant, Caroline was a white American and Jeffry is Papua New Guinean. What they share though, their dedication to documenting the unique culture, creates a conversation that defines time.

How relevant to contemporary Papua New Guinea do you feel the cultural evolution illustrated by the way both artists capture their “heads” is?  Do you think the comparison will have historical significance in the future?

Announcing “One World-Two Visions” Collaboration

From Great Depression to Great Recession

Caroline Mytinger, an adventurous artist who traveled to Melanesia to paint the portraits of the indigenous culture of the 1920’s. Caroline returned to the U.S. in 1930 to have her first exhibition in New York of 25 stunning oils.  Although there were more exhibition venues for the following 5 years, the Great Depression took its toll on the ability to tell her story.  So it has also been with Headhunt Revisited, the years of the Great Recession forced me to put the project on hold.

I am happy to share with you that Headhunt Revisited has new life and new developments!

Jeffry at his fundraiser for the “Feather” musical in Port Moresby.

One World – Two Visions” is the collaboration with Jeffry Feeger, a Papua New Guinean artist that will give a voice to talented contemporary artists of the remarkable country.  So far, Jeffry has created 4 acrylic on canvas pieces that were inspired by Caroline. You can view all 4 pairings here on the Headhunt Revisited site.

Sarli & Wife by Caroline Mytinger                               Top Town Friends by Jeffry Feeger In "Top Town Friends" this couple run a transit guest house at top town area Alotau, Milne Bay. The man originates from Samarai Island – where Caroline’s painting was done in 1929.  He offers tours of the surrounding islands on his boat.  He is well recognized for his support of the local tourism industry and for his knowledge of the history and stories that make up Milne Bay.
Sarli & Wife by Caroline Mytinger paired with Top Town Friends by Jeffry Feeger
  In “Top Town Friends” this couple run a transit guest house at top town area Alotau, Milne Bay. The man originates from Samarai Island – where Caroline’s painting was done in 1929. He offers tours of the surrounding islands on his boat. He is well recognized for his support of the local tourism industry and for his knowledge of the history and stories that make up Milne Bay.

On July 11th, I will be traveling to New York to see Jeffry Feeger perform at Feather, a new musical fusing art, music and film. Please join me in the newest leg of Headhunt Revisited journey and “Like” the Facebook page. I will be sharing updates on the progress of the post-production of the documentary film, book and exhibition.