San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

‘Art in Stained Glass’ Illuminates

Five artists, including Costa Rican Sylvia Laks, explore the depths of light and glass using various ancient and modern techniques in the second Arte en Vitrales (Art in Stained Glass) exhibit, on display through Oct. 4 at the Sophia Wanamaker Gallery in the eastern San José neighborhood of Barrio Dent.

It s an appealing exhibit to visit on a rainy afternoon, as the pieces transform even gloomy, overcast light into a rainbow of warm colors. Interspersed with the ornamental pieces, illuminated images of faces and bodies, which look like paintings, come alive. Brightly dressed women are surrounded by vivid skies and lands in Laks pieces entitled Africa, La Chamana (The Shaman) and Retrato (Portrait).

Laks uses the grisaille method, a technique used in the Middle Ages in European churches, explained Juan Diego Roldán, the gallery s visual arts coordinator. With grisaille, Laks does not paint images onto the glass but rather works with a special kind of oven, like a kiln for glass, and then scratches the glass to expose color and the images.

The process can take four to six months per piece understandable, given the size and detail of these glass creations. Laks is one of the few artists in the world who has mastered this centuries-old technique, Roldán said.

Four other artists are featured at the exhibit, each presenting his or her own unique uses of glass. Costa Rican Gerardo Selva displays artistic glass bowls, whereas Flor Gutiérrez actually paints on the glass to create what looks like a kind of stained glass animation. Fellow Tica Marcela Otárola s Río Celeste is a beautiful composition of ornamental stained glass used to capture Costa Rica s natural beauty. And Peruvian Ambassador to Costa Rica Alberto Gutiérrez La Madrid shares his distinct style by using stained glass in sculpture.

The Sophia Wanamaker Gallery is in the CostaRican-NorthAmericanCulturalCenter, 150 meters north of La Favorita gas station in Barrio Dent. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For information, call 2207-7567.


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