San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New Artist’s Tour Inspires Creativity

THE ‘Explore and Create in Costa RicaTours’ offer more than the normal touristexcursions – the specialty of this tour is toinvoke the creative juices of the artisticallyinclined.“The tours I’m organizing are inspirationalfor artistic, cultural and nature basedexperiences,” says Jan Yatsko, the founderof the tour company.Yatkso, herself a featured artist andcraftsperson, designed the 12-day trip as away for artists (or thosein a creative-relatedindustry) to rechargetheir minds with newimages, experiences andabove all, inspiration fornew work ideas.The tours are a mixedbalance of exploringnature, seeing the traditionaltourist sites as wellas meeting local artistsand craftspeople. Vacationersare encouragedto spend time on individualartwork during the trip.A day with Yatkso begins with a shortSpanish class and a creative exercise to initiatethe artwork. From beginners to professionals,everyone on the tour is invited tojoin in, regardless of the technique in whichthey express themselves“I like to inspire people and then allowthem to go on their own,” she says. “Itshould be fun, not work.”YATKSO, who has been a workingartist for 28 years, also suggests tour participantskeep a journal to capture their spontaneousinspirations through drawing,painting or writing.Unique highlights of the tour includevisits to the art studios of Patricia and BrianErickson located 6 km from Guápiles. Atthe studio, Patricia exhibits her amazingcollection of storytelling paintings whileBrian, a bamboo furniture designer andsculpturer, provides interesting walksthrough his gardens, which host bamboospecies from all over the world.Sitting on Brian’s innovative, handcraftedfurniture, the guests are served atypical Nicaraguan dish, called Baho, consistingof marinated chicken, green plantainand cassava, steamed between bananaleaves.“The meeting with the Ericksons is aunique experience,” says Yatkso, originallyfrom Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “Whilewe enjoy the food, we also listen to Patti’sstories and hear the birds and the nearbyRío Blanco.”Another favorite is the trip to theMaleku Indian Reservation, where the tourobserves the language,dance, customs andcraftwork of this Indiantribe. During a walkthrough the jungle, theshaman (a person whoacts as intermediarybetween the natural andsupernatural worlds)introduces the visitors tomedicinal plants, as wellas how to use naturalcolors from roots andseeds for their art journal.PEDIATRICIAN Raylene DeVine wasespecially impressed by the Maleku childrenand wanted to help immediately.“The day at the village was a very movingone,” recalles the outspoken painter.“I’m going to send them art supplies – Ihave so much, they have so little.”The tour also includes the traditionaljaunts to Arenal Volcano and ManuelAntonio National Park. Optional activities,such as horseback riding, sea-kayaking,sport fishing and mountain biking are alsoavailable.Nancy Wissinger, an art therapist fromPennsylvania, participated in the February2004 tour and was fascinated by the lushnessof the rainforest.“I enjoyed the feeling, just to be in it,”she says.Yatkso also enjoyed the feeling andbeauty of Costa Rica when she first vacationedhere with her husband Thomas 12 years ago on a bicycling tour.IN fact, the country’s vibrant beauty and thefriendliness of the Ticos made them feel so welcomethat they returned for three more trips andnow they have even lived part time in the ruralnorthwestern Central Valley town of Atenas forfive years.Because of a preference for the tropics, aswell as for the Spanish language, they have alsovisited Belize and Venezuela on bicycle.“But in Costa Rica,” Yatkso says, “it was thefirst time I felt that I had come home.”Yatkso, a devoted travel guide, Spanish interpreterand art teacher, decided to commercializeher variety of skills after organizing vacations forher artistically talented friends in the country.Yatsko is knowledgeable about artistry. Shereceived her art education at KutztownUniversity in Pennsylvania and has been exhibitedas a basketer and papermaker in numerousgallery shows in Costa Rica, the United Statesand Iceland.Presently, Yatsko depicts Costa Rican lifethrough her paintings and creates mixed media(artistic media used in combination in a singlework) and wire mesh origami sculptures. She alsoteaches workshops on the Japanese art of foldingpaper in San José.IN her ‘Thoughts about My Paintings,’Yatksowrites she feels a strong creative energy from theabundant nature and wildlife in Costa Rica.“The natural beauty is a constant inspirationto me and I have designed this tour through theeyes of an artist because I want to share it withothers,” she says.The next tour is scheduled February 22-March 5, 2005 and is limited to 10 people. Thedeadline to register is October 15, 2004.For more info, or to make a reservation,

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