San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Young Tico wins big belt-buckle contest, lands first Costa Rica exhibition

Young Costa Rican Artist Daniel Icaza is on a roll. After winning first place in the World Championship Belt Buckle Competition in March of this year, he recently scored his first-ever exhibition at the Costa Rican-North American Cultural Center in Sabana Norte.

belt buckle winner

Daniel Icaza’s “Space Cowboy” won the top prize in the World Championship Belt Buckle Competition. Courtesy of the World Championship Belt Buckle Competition 

Although Icaza prefers to make jewelry – and rings in particular – the 26-year-old artist designed a belt buckle for Montana State University’s 2nd annual competition, which is open to everyone. Icaza’s winning buckle, entitled, “Space Cowboy,” was made of sterling silver, copper, brass, bronze and imperial jasper. In creating it, Icaza used an obscure Japanese lamination technique called Mokume-Gane.

Icaza’s success in the belt buckle competition may be no surprise to his mother, who owns Art Depot, an art supply store in Escazú. Since he was a kid, Icaza has had access to a smorgasbord of materials from the store, allowing him to experiment with painting, graphic design and metals, the last of which is his favorite.

His exhibit at the Culture Center, “Monetary Bondage,” features bills and coins from the U.S. and Costa Rica inside metallic boxes decorated with symmetric engravings. Icaza, who considers himself more conceptual than esthetic, explores how “money is trapped, but also we can become trapped by money,” he says. “It is something so common, used so often… and sometimes we forget its meaning.”

Juan Diego Roldán, curator of the Sophia Wanamaker Gallery at the Cultural Center, said the expo is “a fresh take by a young artist that is not subject to premeditated appearances about what is or isn’t art.”

Lately, Icaza has been designing belts and buckles for the commercial market. He also sells jewelry online at and through his Facebook page.

“Monetary Bondage” is on display at the Cultural Center in Sabana Norte until June 19, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-6:30p.m.

Comments are closed.