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Style – this is what Costa Rica looks like

Several art galleries and artists in Samara can be visited in an easy afternoon. La Voz de Nosara gives a rundown of the walking tour but for more precise information, visit Samara Info Center on the main street.  Casa Gecko Glass, the fused glass artwork of Lavae (aka Sandy Shorts), can be seen (and purchased) at the Dragonfly Art Gallery.  the Dragonfly has a full array of art and jewelry, all hand- crafted in Costa Rica.  Jaime Koss Gallery shows the vibrant and sexy paintings of Jaime Koss.  Galeria Origen exhibits the multi-dimensional art of Maria Fernanda Galvez,  who has introduced many a foreign resident to the art of the Spanish language through her day job at Intercultura Language School.

Rudolf has made his annual appearance at a roadside stand on the Pan American Hiway between San Jose and Samara.  A Costa Rican holiday tradition, this family sets up shop for a few weeks each year, making Christmas creatures.  Each reindeer is sculpted of shredded Melina wood and tied with fishing line.  they come in a variety of sizes.  Mama takes the money.

Traffic was stopped briefly Sat. morning when trucks were unloading their bueys (oxen) and carts in Carrillo.  The vaqueros came in from the ranches for a parade of carretas (ox carts).  The parade started in front of the soccer field and continued along the two beaches to end up in front of the church in Samara. Some of the carts are simple utilitarian constructions, probably used to haul logs in this part of Costa Rica.  But most carretas are gorgeous, painted affairs with matching yokes. Costa Rican ox carts were used in the mid 19th century to haul the coffee from the central valley to the port in Puntarenas.  The solid disk wheels were developed to cut through the muck and mud without bogging down.  A good solid ox cart meant the difference between a  successful trip to market and financial ruin.  It was a farmer’s source of pride.  Painting the carts in intricate geometric and floral patterns began around the turn of the 20th century, with the first factory opening in the mountain village of Sarchi in 1903.  Originally, each region of Costa Rica had its own particular design, and you could tell where a farmer was from by watching the pattern on the wheels of his cart.  Now, they are used mostly for decoration and religious festivals such as this one, even though, these cowboys couldn’t tell me which virgin they were honoring this first Sat. in December.

I have been amazed, since moving to Costa Rica, how many truly creative and artistic people live here.  Although I worked as an architect for 26 years, I didn’t consider myself artistic.  Creative? Sure.  But artistic?  Never.  I swear, I’m the only architect in history who never learned to draw, not really.  And I’m not used to being around artistic people.  My close friends up north were more literate than artistic, more likely to attend a writers’ workshop than a gallery opening, unless there was food and drink involved.

Even so, I’ve always had a weakness for glass.  I loved spending an afternoon in the Hot Shop at Tacoma’s Museum of Glass.  Watching a gifted glass blower create something gorgeous out of a molten bit of sand is nothing less than alchemy.  But I could see that learning to blow glass would require years of practice and bundles of money.  Glass fusing, the process of heating bits of colored glass in a kiln until it fuses into a single sheet and then forming that sheet into a shape, looked like something I could do.  I took a few classes in Seattle but, while I was still working 50 hours a week, I didn’t have time to do much of it.  I only started fusing glass in earnest after settling here in Samara.  Now that I’ve been exploring the medium for 5 years, I think I’ve found my voice.  I’m feeling artistic and I’m anxious to show off at the upcoming Samara Art Fair.

by Maria Fernanda Galvez

December 10 is an opportunity to see a broad spectrum of art and creativity in Samara, from both expats and Ticos.  The only rule for showing is that the art must be made in Costa Rica.  I’ve seen some of the work that people around here do and it’s fabulous.   I think living in Costa Rica inspires creativity.  The landscape is gorgeous and so different from where most of us have come.  I also think there’s a certain type of person who chooses to live here, a bit of a risk taker who is willing to trade home and country for a new life.  And most of us have the gift of time.  We’ve said goodbye to 8-5 workdays in favor of walks on the beach.  Or maybe it’s something in water.  But there is some really cool stuff being made here and if you come by the Natural Center Gym and Spa on Saturday 10 December between 9 and 2, you’ll see some fine art.