San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Art Project Beautifies Atenas Health Clinic

Juanita Yatsko’s art project is an excellent idea,” says Carolina Amador, 34, director of the new Social Security System (Caja) medical center in the coffee town of Atenas, northwest of San José. “The paintings displayed in our 1,680-square-meter clinic are giving life to this place.”

Thanks to Yatsko’s initiative, the clinic, which was inaugurated in July, now displays seven framed pieces by Atenas-based artists. A featured artist and craftsperson for 30 years, Yatsko, 52, from the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, encouraged painters of different nationalities and backgrounds to create pieces to brighten up the clinic’s walls. One of her own acrylics hangs in the main waiting area of the hospital.

Artist Patricia Valerio, 45, is enthusiastic about the project and the creative process.

“To me, painting is magic,” she says. “Juanita’s initiative is a great opportunity. The  feedback of the local people is very positive, and I get to know other artists living here.”

Yatsko wanted to start her project with the clinic because, in her opinion, being surrounded by colors and art can change people’s moods as well as their physical condition.

“This is my volunteer project for the community,” she says, “to give them a cultural experience.”

Yatsko came to Costa Rica 14 years ago on a bicycling trip. She is the designer of Explore and Create in Costa Rica Tours (TT, July 30, 2004).

On her quest for the best murals for the Atenas medical center and other public buildings, Yatsko plans a contest for elementary and high-school students. To her, the initiative is just an overture.

“This is the beginning of my Art for Atenas project,” she stresses. “I don’t know yet where it’s going, but maybe some day an artist will come here to help us create a sculpture for the park.”

For more information, contact Yatsko at 446-4039 or, or visit


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