Anywhere you look in Costa Rica you will find a form of art, whether you are looking for it or not. The Costa Rican culture deeply values art of all different assortments. From street art to vendors in the Mercado Calle Nacional de Artesania & Pintura to galleries, art is anywhere and everywhere in Costa Rica. Just pay attention while you roam the city and get ready for a ride through the world of Costa Rican art!
The easiest place to find art is by simply walking down the streets of San José. Look at almost any wall in the city and you’re bound to find some sort of graffiti or mural paintings. The colors that the artists use are so vibrant that they truly stand out to the viewer. Each individual mural tells its own story and portrays the feelings of the artist. The artist had a point in painting the mural and it’s your chance to see the most beautiful work from the artist at no cost to you. Be prepared for a bit of a shock though as some of the murals are very different from what we are used to seeing. I know when I first saw one I didn’t know what exactly to think. With each passing day I have come to appreciate the time that the artist took to share his/her creation with the people who pass by each day. I have also taken notice that the murals are ever changing. This weekend I walked by a wall full of murals that I usually see and noticed that the first three were different. The street art and murals around the city are something to truly enjoy while you can because you never know how long they’ll be there.
My favorite place to see the local art of Costa Rica (and more centrally of San José) has to be at the Mercado Calle Nacional de Artesania & Pintura. This is a local market that is on the opposite side of the park from the National Museum in San José. Here you can find art made by local people that they sell daily. You can find just about anything from hammocks to wood carvings to hand made jewelry. There are also touristy things such as t-shirts and post cards but some of the best hand-made art in Costa Rica (if you ask me) is found here! Occasionally you can even see the artist making it right in front of you. My roommate Sharlene had an arm cuff custom made for her by the artist himself! He was so eager to show us his artistic capabilities and we were nothing short of mesmerized by the work he created from a simple rod of bronze. It was truly a work of art. This is undeniably the greatest place to find local hand-made art that you can take home with you (and for an awesome price)!
When you’re somewhere as big as San José, Costa Rica you can’t forget about the art found in museums and galleries. When my roommates from my homestay and I went to see the Museo de Oro Precolombino there was a free exhibition gallery set up for us to enjoy as well. Sofía Ruiz is a Costa Rican visual artist who has not had a very long career but has had an explosive one. You can find her work in over 30 collective and 10 individual exhibitions. I absolutely enjoyed her paintings because they were such a different take on any painting I had previously seen. The faces of each of her subjects looked exactly like a photograph. The rest of the painting was intricate and used a mix of sketching and painting. Sofía is a great local artist who is accomplished in her work and most definitely works hard. I absolutely recommend going to see some of her work while in Costa Rica!
The art in Costa Rica is different than you will find any other place. By just walking down the street you can experience some of the best art in the country in the works of mural paintings. Local hand-made crafts and different arts are only truly authentic at places like the Artesania and are an absolute must see while visiting. No one can forget the talent of acclaimed artists such as Sofía Ruiz either. Her work is certainly stunning! From art on the street to art in a gallery, it’s all a must see her in Costa Rica!
P.S. – If you’re here while the Art City Tour is going on in the summer, it is a great way to see some of the art museums for free and get a jump start on your art viewing!
Written By Emily Gulick, Social Media Journalist