San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Carmen Silva’s paintings debut in Guanacaste

Butterflies, flowers, and hummingbirds – it doesn’t get more sublime than this. Carmen Silva’s series of paintings, entitled “Luz y Color,” depicts the natural world as a tranquil paradise. Her animals are docile and free, like the bird that hovers in the jungle, or the congregating mariposas. The plants have nearly as much personality as the fauna. Here, there is no circle of life, no predators or natural disasters. In Silva’s world, everything is happy and bright.

“Luz y Color” makes its debut on Saturday at Hidden Garden Art Gallery, in Liberia. The setting is appropriate, since Silva grew up in Guanacaste, where she was drawn to natural spaces. While the rest of her family has a talent for music, Silva says she always wanted to paint.

Something of a late bloomer, Silva waited for her children to grow up before taking her painting seriously, and now she is making up for lost time. She has studied with prominent Costa Rican artists and shown her work in 10 solo shows and 23 group exhibits. In her press photo, she looks like nothing so much as a middle-class mom. It turns out this particular mom has a lot of color and light to share.

As an artist, Silva doesn’t seem to have much to “say,” but her landscapes are reminiscent of the illustrations in children’s books, Maurice Sendak in particular. Silva invents an Eden-like world, and it is easy to imagine these portraits as telling a kind of benign fable. She strikes the same childlike tone as “Goodnight Moon” or “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” stories so harmlessly sweet that you can’t help but crack a smile.

“Luz y Color” open this Saturday, Hidden Garden Art Gallery, Liberia, Guanacaste. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. Info: 2667-6872,

Contact Robert Isenberg at

Comments are closed.