San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

U.S. Artists Exhibit Cutting-Edge Work in Escazú

TWENTY-first century art has arrivedin force in Costa Rica.From now through January 2006, theGDS Galería in the western San José suburbof Escazú will be featuring for thefirst time in Latin America the collectedworks of Dustin Yellin and Dan Steinhilber,two U.S. artists who have beenturning heads from coast to coast in theirnative country with their brazen newstyles of art.“I wanted to give Costa Ricans achance to see something new and fresh,”Felipe Grimberg, co-owner of GDSGalería and a private art dealer based outof Miami, told The Tico Times. “This styleof art is something that has never reallybeen seen (in Costa Rica).”Grimberg, who met Yellin andSteinhilber while visiting various gallerieson the U.S. east coast, said he was instantlyimpressed by their work and set aboutopening up a two-month exhibit at hisgallery here.“I’M interested in natural things,things that are alive,” Yellin, 30, told TheTico Times. “I’m also interested in preservationand preventing extinction, and Ithink that’s a part of my work as well.”Yellin, who resides in New York City,works with ink drawings encased in layersof transparent resin to make moldsthat appear to be plant specimens, frozenwithin ice-like cubes.It is an entirely new style of creatingartwork that he invented about three yearsago, while working on a collage for hismother.“I used the resin as a way of setting(the collages), when a bee landed in it,” hesaid. “I poured more resin on top of thebee, and after it dried I saw how interestingit looked, just sort of stuck there.”After becoming fixated on the image ofthe insect trapped in the resin, Yellin beganto draw his own artificial specimens withindifferent layers of the resin, and his newstyle of artwork was born.HOWEVER, Yellin does not like tolimit himself to the flora and fauna thatalready exist in our world. He prefers tocreate new specimens – things that havenever been seen in nature. The fact that allof his works carry scientific Latin-stylenames speaks to his sentiment that he isalso, in a sense, a scientist.“My studio looks just like a laboratorywith the molds and petri dishes allaround,” Yellin said. “A lot of my interestin science (as a child) I think became crystallizedin my art.”It didn’t take long for people to takenotice of Yellin’s new art style. He hasrecently had works purchased by the TateModern art gallery in London, and bycelebrities such as actors Ben Stiller, ClaireDanes and Kate Hudson.Yellin hasn’t even begun to touch thesurface of what he plans to do with his newart form. He is currently working on creatinghis own sea creatures and butterflies tobe represented in his molds.“I could spend 20 lifetimes and not doone-tenth of what I have in my head,” hesaid.When asked where he gets his inspiration,his answer is quick.“Nature. My number one source ofinspiration is nature,” he said.“WHEN I need inspiration and ideas, Idon’t drink coffee. That’s the importantthing, because my mind will start to racetoo much,” Steinhilber said, explainingthat he only drinks coffee when he’s makingart, to get more things done.Steinhilber, 33, a Wisconsin native anda resident of Washington, D.C., says hisinspiration comes from everyday, commonthings that he can display in a differentlight.“It’s about possibility; it’s about seeinga normal, ordinary thing and changing howyou see it,” Steinhilber told The TicoTimes. “It’s a transformation of an ordinaryexperience to something unusual.”Steinhilber works with a wide varietyof objects, such as deflated balloons, shampoobottles and gum, with the intention ofaltering the objects into something totallydifferent.One of his pieces on display at GDSGalería appears from far away to be a canvasadorned with a glossy white wave ofdifferent patterns. It is, in reality, a collageof various condiment packets turnedaround, so that all that is visible are thewhite backs of the packets.“I used to make paintings with anatmosphere of clouds,” Steinhilber said.“And I think that’s what this is – it’s like acloud. You have these packets, and insideit’s real moist, and that’s kind of like acloud, how it’s moist inside. But there arepreservatives in there too.”ANOTHER of his pieces is a nearlysix-foot-tall piece of Winterfresh gum.“I was thinking about when you’reyoung, and that first time you unwrap agum from the plastic,” Steinhilber said.“And you look at it, and you just lick it,and that’s enough. And then I put it on theplastic.”The large acrylic board is adorned withmore than a hundred sticks of gum thathave been stuck to the acrylic panel by onlysaliva, to create one large, collective pieceof gum. The board is even bent slightly toresemble what would happen if you placeda single piece of gum against a wall.Steinhilber’s other pieces on displayinclude a lineup of multicolored shampoobottles stuck behind towel racks, an emptypedestal beneath a heat lamp and a fivefoot-tall Cheeto.STEINHILBER says he has mostrecently been interested by the fact thatCosta Ricans often use green garbage bags.“It’s like a white trash bag is clean andpure,” Steinhilber said. “But here, they’regreen, and that’s pure in its own way too…it’s almost like you’re apologizing that it’splastic and inside there is garbage.”“I think that (in art) you have to find abalance between an idea and a physicalform, and if you can’t fit the form to theidea, you really don’t have anything,” headded.Steinhilber has had work displayed inthe Numark Gallery and the HirshhornMuseum and Sculpture Garden inWashington, D.C., and in Sienna, Italy.“THE message he wants to deliver istotally different,” gallery co-ownerGrimberg said of Steinhilber’s art. “It’sthings that you really don’t know what it isuntil you get close.”Grimberg said he likes Yellin’s workbecause “it’s touchable – you can feel it. Itgives you a good feeling and creates agood atmosphere.”“These two guys have a long and verystable career ahead of them,” he added. “Ifthey can continue to work hard, they’llreally get far.”The joint Yellin-Steinhilber exhibit willbe held at GDS Galería, on the secondfloor of Multicentro Paco in Escazú, untilthe end of January. All of the pieces on displayare available for sale through thegallery’s catalogs.For more information, call 228-3095 orvisit

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