San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Artists Capture Heritage Buildings on Canvas

San José’s architectural heritage has been captured on the canvases of 44 artists as part of a Culture Ministry competition to paint San José buildings of historical and architectural significance.

With categories for nationally recognized artists and emerging artists, the Nuestras Construcciones Patrimoniales (Our Heritage Buildings) contest saw the winners collect cash prizes and the ministry acquire dozens of new works of art.

The contest forms part of a wider project to investigate, celebrate and conserve the country’s urban cultural heritage (TT, Sept. 18).

Artists were required to choose from a list of 344 significant buildings around the country and from a range of mediums, including oils, pastels, pencil and acrylic.

The ¢2.25 million (about $3,900) winner of the national-level competition was José Miguel Rojas, with his acrylic and pencil painting of the Castillo del Moro building in San José’s historic Barrio Amón neighborhood.

The four judges concluded that the painting’s “composition is exceptional and the artist’s positioning of the building on the canvas brings to life its two dimensions and presence.”

“I feel very much a part of San José, so it was a pleasure to get involved in this urban competition,” Rojas said. “I looked through the selection of pictures and really liked this particular building in Barrio Amón and the way it jumps out at you. I liked the angles and perspective of its construction and enjoyed trying to get this across on the canvas.”

Winner of the ¢1 million (about $1,700) emerging-artist category Eugenia Núñez said of her “Edificio Metálico” painting, “It used to be my school, the Escuela Buenaventura Corrales, and I just had to paint it when I saw it on the list. I didn’t think I would win when I saw the quality of the competition and still can’t quite believe it.”

“The work really celebrates the beauty of this building, while precisely capturing interesting details surrounding it, such as the mural made by the children,” the judges wrote of Núñez’s painting.

Runner-up for the national prize was Juan Carlos Camacho and his “Aquella tarde de abril,” while second place in the emergingartist category went to Zurych Hernández for his “La Capitanía de Puerto, Puntarenas y los recuerdos.”

Congratulating the contestants, Culture Minister María Elena Carballo said, “Thanks to these artists and their visualizations of our buildings of significance, we now have everlasting reminders of our heritage.”

The contest’s paintings will be exhibited through Oct. 8 at the NationalCultureCenter in downtown San José.


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