San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

A Furniture Fairy Godmother

GOT a favorite old piece of furniture that has seen better days, but can’t quite bear to throw it out? Making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear comes naturally to artist Mayra Güell, who can take an ordinary or decrepit piece of furniture and turn it into a work of art.


A painter by profession, Güell says she sees the magic hidden within ordinary objects and she liberates it. With paint, layers of papier-mâché and loads of imagination, Güell took an old, patchedup chair and turned it into a throne (shown at right) worthy of an earth goddess. She does the same to tables, nightstands and even factory-issue, mini-fridge cubes.


The best way to view her art is to visit Cinco Hormigas Rojas, the “artists’ refuge” B-and-B she created out of her grandmother’s house in the heart of San José.


Garden, walls, light fixtures, furniture, switchplates – everything reflects Güell’s fantastical artistic and nature-loving perspective.


For a truly one-of-a-kind, funky piece of art to put under next year’s Christmas tree, bring along your castoffs and let Güell work her magic. Cinco Hormigas Rojas is in Barrio Otoya, 25 meters north of Café Mundo (look for the jungly garden). For information, call 257-8581.


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