To find a small, quaint art gallery in Costa Rica, one must be willing to search. Especially now that rainy days seem like they’re to stay, leaving the comforts of home to go in search of good art can be a challenge. But imagine the possibility of viewing and purchasing high-quality contemporary art and design from Central America without leaving home. By bringing artists’ collections to a virtual online gallery, Sylvia Rodríguez, director of The Fine Art Cellar, has bridged a gap between Central American artists and art aficionados around the world.
The Fine Art Cellar has two different facets: the online gallery at www.fineartcellar.com and the physical gallery in the eastern San José suburb of San Pedro.
The small gallery space is like a hidden treasure. During a visit last month, large paintings by Costa Rican artist Marianela Salgado filled the space with an exhibit entitled “Series sin número” (“Unnumbered Series”). The paintings were large, textured, colorful and full of hidden images and symbols.
Through her use of texture and layers, Salgado manages to express energetic feelings of personal freedom. Her art is unique in the sense that the more you look at it, the more subtleties you encounter. Common hidden symbols used by Salgado are cats and chairs.
When asked to explain the mysterious elements in her art, Salgado replied, “The way to explain art is to not explain it.” This philosophy about art also applies to her approach to painting, which is to begin without a particular end result in mind. Large brush strokes of color serve as the base, and then the artist adds texture and symbols once she can understand her own philosophical and metaphorical meaning.
For those who missed Salgado’s exhibit, the beauty of The Fine Art Cellar is that anyone with Internet access can still see her works, as well as those of other excellent artists, such as Costa Rican painters Miguel Casafont and Marvin Chinchilla, and Spanish painter Rafael Bacigalupe. If sculpture and photography are of greater interest, choose to view the online exhibits by Rainier Mora,Mario Alvarez, Diana Fernández from Guatemala and Irene Peña.
Rodríguez, the gallery’s founder and visionary, acknowledges that a photograph of an art piece is not the same as viewing art “live.” However, one of the advantages of an online gallery is that it affords an opportunity to get to know all the artist’s different stages. This is possible because even after a piece is sold, it remains in the online gallery, with the notation that it has been sold.
Selling artwork to buyers around the world is the ultimate goal of the online gallery.
“The artist must find the other human who knows how to see,” Salgado remarked when asked if it was at all painful to part with one of her works of art. “It is the opposite of painful; it is pleasing when the art can be joined with its lifelong partner.”
This is the reason The Fine Art Gallery has been such a success – buying art is made easy, and the process is extremely professional.
All purchases come with an investment guarantee, an owner’s title and a certificate of authenticity approved by the artist. Credit cards are accepted, and financing plans without interest make purchasing feasible.
Artwork is personally delivered to homes in the Central Valley, or it can be sent almost anywhere in the world, fully secured with international couriers.
The international appeal and use of the Web site has been surprising, with the site receiving visitors from all over the world, from Canada to Saudi Arabia. U.S., European, South American and Central Ameri-can interest has been consistent.
Rodríguez said she is pleased with the Costa Rican response. For those interested in decorating homes and offices, she also makes presentations to people and businesses to bring the gallery’s art to the “outside.”
She explained how more and more people arrive in Costa Rica and have a space to decorate, money to decorate it well and the desire to buy local art, but no idea where to begin. Rodríguez aids people through this aesthetic process, also providing framing and restoration services.
The feisty, business-savvy art director believes the time to purchase Costa Rican art is now.
“It is now or never, because upcoming artists will be very expensive soon,” she said.
For those wanting to visit the physical gallery, located one kilometer east of the Universidad Latina in San Pedro, behind Don’s department store, hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or weekends by appointment. The gallery’s next scheduled exhibit, entitled “Nuestros Grandes Maestros” (“Our Great Masters”), is set to open Oct. 18, and will allow the opportunity to acquire unique and valuable pieces by well-known Costa Rican artists César Valverde, Francisco Amighetti, Margarita Bertheau and others.
For those in faraway lands, or for those who just don’t want to go out in the rain, the virtual museum is just a click away.