Art fair vendors rebound after a weekend they call crazy

Reynaldo Quiros is at work. In front of him are the cheaper sombreros pintados, at 35,000 colons, about $70. Behind him are the more expensive ones. A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias Vela

The Feria Internacional de las Artes is in full swing this week. The festival has trickled into San José since the beginning of the month with art exhibits at various galleries. Since Friday the event has become a 10-day extravaganza with vendors, activities, and musical performances.

Parque La Sabana was divided into stations where different activities, vendors, performances, and lectures have been set up. Each vendor is assigned a location based on the product and theme of the business.

Monday was a day for vendors to catch their breath and relax from the inaugural weekend. According to many artisans, the weekend was crazy. They said there wasn’t room for everyone. Some even said they had run out of certain products. They took the day to make and replace what was sold.

One of the artisans to use his down time productively was a man who makes accessories with leather. Federico DiCapua, is the owner of the business that carries his family name DiCapua. He sat on a folding plastic chair. He took another empty chair and used it as a table to make a purse. He leaned forward and grabbed a special tool used to shave leather in order to thin out the edges he had cut. The tool looked like a rough version of a metal razor.

DiCapua has turned his family trade into a small business. He said the business is new but that his dad used to work with leather, and now he does. He said his father teased him that he began sewing leather at 3 years old. DiCapua laughed at his anecdote and continued to shave the leather.

But not all vendors come from a family line of artisans. Ofelia Reategui, 61, discovered her artisan skill during her late 50s. At a time when most people who have worked go into retirement, she uncovered a secret talent. She has the ability, creativity, and the eye to make women’s accessories such as purses, wallets and belts. From this she created a small business, Manos Latinas.

Ms. Reategui uses all recycled material, she said. She is one of many Costa Rican designers who are part of an ecological fashion trend. The main materials she used are newspaper, leather, and a canvas banner. She said her idea came from the concept of recycling. From there, she said, she started to experiment with designs and then somehow she got creative.

Other vendors stick to what is known, popular and organic.
Reynaldo Quiros has been a Panama hatmaker for more than 30 years. He specializes in a custom hat that is famous, the sombrero pintado. Although his hats look very similar, he said he has more than 20 different styles on display. The styles vary on the design, color, and the amount of sewn laps or seams on the hat. The quality of the hat depends on the amount of laps. Any hat with more than 10 laps is considered to be quality, he said. Each one varies in price, from $70 to $250.

The hat is made of bellota (Cardulovica palmata), fiber from palm.

The Feria Internacional de las Artes will end on Sunday. The music, food, games, exhibits, performances, and vendors will continue to run during the week.

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