Now through Sept. 28, 2014, the Museo de Arte Costarricense (MAC) is showing Francisco Zúñiga and Pre-Columbian Art, an exhibit that looks at a series of illustrations on ceramic items from pre-Columbian Costa Rica, developed by the Costa Rican artist affectionately know as "Paco." The museum is kid-friendly and open every day except Sunday. Plus, admission is free.
Born José Jesús Francisco Zúñiga Chavarría in Costa Rica on December 27, 1912, “Paco” was the child of two sculptors who paved the way for their son's work in stone and bronze. After apprenticing in his father’s shop as a teenager, Zúñiga went to Mexico, where he studied at the Escuela de Bellas Artes, helped found the Sociedad Mexicana de Escultores and created commissioned works in various parts of Mexico.
Sculpture by Francisco Zuniga at Museo de Arte Costarricense — Photo courtesy of Museo de Arte Costarricense
MAC’s Director Alfieri Ricardo Rodriguez says, "Francisco Zúñiga was a very important artist to Costa Rica, and the interesting thing about this show is that we will see him in his role as illustrator, driving an exquisite watercolor technique, see it completely tied to a theme that was always his passion in life: the Columbian issue."
The New York Museum of Modern Art acquired Zúñiga’s Cabeza de Niño Totonaca ("Head of a Totonac Boy") and the Metropolitan Museum of Art owns two of his drawings, but the artist is best known for his 35 public sculptures, inspired by the French artist Auguste Rodin. Larger than life and meticulously carved in stone and bronze, they include the Seated Yucatan Woman and a monument to poet Ramón López Velvarde in the city of Zacatecas.
Since 1978, MAC has been headquartered in a restored neocolonial style terminal of the first International Airport in Costa Rica, now called La Sabana. The permanent exhibition displays the largest collection of original Costa Rican art, comprised of approximately 1700 pieces of varying mediums, and a 4000-piece collection of the prolific Costa Rican artist Juan Manuel Sánchez, another scholar of pre-Columbian art who sculpted animals, women and religious figures in stone and wood, preferring spontaneous strokes and deliberately rough finish.
Outside adjacent to the museum lies another permanent exhibition, the sculpture garden in which Francisco Zúñiga’s Tres Mujeres Caminando ("Three Women Walking") is among the works on display.
Admission to the museum is free. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m, Tuesday through Sunday, closed on Mondays. Find the museum on the eastern edge of La Sabana Park in San Jose, near Calle 42.