San José ceramic mural will honor La Virgen de los Ángeles

A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias Vela Alex Barbosa and Adrian Gómez work on the mural in the shadow of the Iglesia de La Dolorosa.

Art in San José is a common sight along the streets, on walls, as free-standing sculptures and in parks. The municipality of San José has set up a program for art in public spaces where national artists get a chance to contribute to the Costa Rican capital.

Along Calle Central and Avenida 12 sits the Iglesia de La Dolorosa. Across from the church is a park of the same name where the next big city art project already has started.

It’s a black and white 1.90-meter by 6-meter ceramic porcelain mural. It’s a two-sided mural but only one side is currently in progress. That’s about 6 feet, three inches by 19 feet, eight inches.

The south side of the mural is dedicated to the Costa Rican patroness La Virgen de los Ángeles by artist Juan Manuel Sánchez. He is also known as El Indio Sánchez, said the project director Adrian Gómez. Sánchez is a Tico, well-known for his sculptures and drawings.

Gómez worked on cutting tile into little pieces to be cemented onto the wall. At his feet was a sketch of what is supposed to go on the wall. There were deer, trees, a red sun, and a little girl, the one who found the famous statue of the Virgen at a spring
in what is now Cartago. That was in the 17th century.

Gómez said the project would take about a month and a half to complete. He said his team of three has three weeks of work into it. They built the wall and have started the mural. They are working from the outside in.

The process of the wall is interesting, said Gómez because it curves like a flag waving in the wind. There is supposed to be an idea of movement, said Gómez. And the fact that both sides of the wall will have different designs in black and white will make the passersby look twice, he said.

The north side of the mural is still just a sketch based on a rural scene in the mountains by Costa Rican artist Kike Quiros.

“Many would have drawn out the sketch and began cementing the pieces together, but we have used another method,” said Gómez. He and his crew have divided the space into quadrants. Gómez said this method is supposed to be more precise.

There are three steps to the project, Gómez said. There is the construction of the wall, which is complete. Second, is putting on the porcelain ceramic. That is the job still in progress.

And finally they are grouting where the spaces between the ceramic pieces are filled.

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