There are dozens of art galleries in Costa Rica, but in very few can you meet the artist and see his full spectrum of paintings and sculpture. At the gallery of Edgar Zúñiga, the works range from small pieces in marble or bronze for home displays up to arresting 20-foot-high columns to enhance the landscape of a business or park. Customers can take their time and commune with the artist while choosing the right piece.
Zúñiga, 59, is undeniably one of Costa Rica’s best-known sculptors. His work can be seen throughout the country in churches, parks and civic plazas, as well as in the Four Seasons and Reserva Conchal resorts on the northern Pacific coast. His gallery in Alajuela, northwest of the capital, adjoins his workshop, which has been home to Zúñiga family artists since the 1920s.
Widely known for his work in bronze, marble, wood, cement, iron and even ice, Zúñiga has won commissions and prizes in countries throughout the world. Most recently, he was a finalist in an international competition in Ube, Japan, where his work, “Columns for Thought,” a collection of five iron columns, is on permanent exhibit. With his gallery, Zúñiga hopes to promote Costa Rican art here and abroad, and because of worldwide distribution of his works, he is able to help customers ship orders abroad.
In San José, everyone is familiar with his bronze street sweeper in the Central Park. His monument to firefighters in front of the main fire station in San José, his sculptures on the boulevard leading into Alajuela and his columns of sculpted wood stationed on the grounds of the Costa Rican Art Museum in La Sabana Park all show different styles of work.
It is a pleasure to join this multitalented artist, who also writes poetry and music, in his gallery-workshop with a whole collection under one roof. His art includes traditional, stylized, contemporary, symbolic and humanistic pieces and ranges from wall hangings and exquisite small pieces in marble or metal to towering outdoor creations.
For Zúñiga, art can be serious, religious, symbolic or whimsical, as in his column of plumbing tools arranged into the form of fish, seaweed, falling water and bubbles.
For those who want to transform their own ideas into sculpture, Zúñiga will custom-design a piece combining their ideas with his gift of art. Dialog between the artist and the client is important, he says. When it comes to large pieces for gardens, he can work with engineers and executives to produce just the right piece.
Zúñiga has spent a lifetime surrounded by art. His father, Manuel Zúñiga, was a nationally known sculptor, and his mother, Consuelo Jiménez, specialized in nativity figures, both working out of the same buildings now occupied by their son. A half brother, Francisco Zúñiga, who died recently in Mexico, was known here and in Mexico as a sculptor. His statue of farm workers at the agricultural park near Alajuela can be seen on the way to JuanSantamaríaInternationalAirport.
Zúñiga has always liked to draw, he says. At 16, he began working with his father and accepting projects on his own, his first being the Resurrection of Christ figure in the church in north-central Costa Rica’s Ciudad Quesada. Zúñiga still lives in Alajuela, not far from his shop, with his wife, Rosabel Salas, and four children, Xiomara, Verónica, Tatiana and Emanuel, all of whom connect with art.
The Zúñiga gallery is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and other times by appointment. The artist suggests calling ahead to make sure he is available. Catch a bit of his work www.edgarzuniga.com, or call 2441-6528.