Sunday, May 30, 2010

Community Service in San Jose, Costa Rica

There are a number of ways visitors and expats alike can give back while they are in Costa Rica. Below are some of the organizations I trust and support. 

The Women's Club of Costa Rica: This organization just celebrated its 70th anniversary. Their motto is 'Friendship through Service', and they mean it. The WCCR focuses on raising funds to build school libraries around Costa Rica, and offer scholarships for highschool students to cover expenses in college. Not only does this group play a large role in service, it is also comprised of women from all over the world who have been leaders in their industries, or who are now actively growing new businesses. A great place to find female mentorship and partnership. 

Gracias Costa Rica: Gracias Costa Rica is in the middle of growing and expanding services, but it is a great resource if you are unsure of where to take old clothing, leave behind travel goods, or specify donations to a non-profit without having to go through the donation process in Spanish. Their primary goal is to get your donations where you want them. Check in as this organization grows. Here is what is immediately needed.

Blood Donations: As in many other countries, there is usually a shortage of blood donations available in Costa Rica. Those that are eligible to donate, or thinking of giving for the first time have many options in the metro area. The main blood bank of La Caja is located in Zapote at the southern corner of the church. Donors can also go to any hospital to make a donation, and in outer lying areas one can usually walk into a red cross without an appointment to give.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Movie, Art, Music & Theater This Week - San Jose, Costa Rica

Something for everyday, free and almost free!

Free Screening Italian Film - Barrio Escalante, Costa Rica: Monday showcases at the Spanish Cultural Center Y LA NAVE VA directed by Federico Fellini in 1983 will begin at 7 p.m. 

Contemporary Art Museum Opening - San Jose, Costa Rica: Tuesday gives us a new art opening at MADC, Esteban Piedra León. Estudios (2002-2010). Overall exhibition is an assembly of the artist's common themes throughout his work; fundamental elements for agitation and questioning. Room I: Architecture for unuseful, non fertile bodies Room II: Defined, permanent & concave Room III: No, no one else either. This museum is located in the beautiful Old FANAL (old guaro distillary) and the site alone is worth a visit. Opening is at 7 p.m. Runs thru July 13. 

Mozart at the French Alliance - Barrio Amon, Costa Rica: Wed. will offer a free recital by members of  the University of Costa Rica's Orchestra. Performing what some call Mozart's greatest work and written for his wedding, la Gran Serenata para Vientos K361. Begins at 7:30. I recommend an early arrival as this space is an old house and it will probably overfill. Parking is a half block east of the alliance.

Afternoon Guitar Quartet at National Theater: The quartet will be performing a set of songs written in 1886, Spain on Thurs. This is an affordable opportunity to see the theater at only 1,000 colones. 5 - 6 p.m. Admission might be more for non-residents. 

Opening Glenngarry Glenn Ross - Sala Garbo: The Little Theatre Group of Costa Rica opens this Fri. with the real estate scandal show, Glenngarry Glenn Ross. A topic many can relate to in Costa Rica, this one promises to throw a few curve balls. Starts at 7:30, adult language, 4,500 colones. Reserve online

Friday, May 21, 2010

Review: Des Pacio Art Opening & Las Robertas

Des Pacio - Virginia Perez-Ratton: There are a few requirements for a good art opening. a) lots to drink b) fancy/funky artsy folk to admire or laugh at and c) great art. Last night's opening at Des Pacio had plenty of A and B, but I'm struggling with C.

Art isn't always 'pretty pictures' as we saw last night. Sometimes you have to really think and work through the artist's statement. Unfortunately, I'd been doped up on cold meds for 2 days so I didn't feel like thinking. So, if you want pretty pictures I really don't recommend this exhibit. If you want to explore 'a dining table' and the stories of life that surround it, go check it out. With all due respect, Ms. Perez was honored with Costa Rica's highest cultural award, El MAGON last year, so I'm sure there's a message hiding worth taking away.

Las Robertas at El Steinvorth: While I was really excited to see this band and really love the bar, I have to say this is not a good venue for live shows (it's the 3rd I've seen). The sound really travels and it's hard to hear anything over the drumming that bounces off the walls and floor. SO, I'm going to have to wait for another show to give my verdict on the quality of Las Robertas. And, I'm going to stick with the chill lounge nights for visiting El Steinvorth.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bringing Peace to Downtown Chaos via Geometric Abstract Art - San Jose, Costa Rica

One of Costa Rica's most famous artists, Manuel de la Cruz focused his work on geometric abstraction. At the core of this artform was using mathematical calculations as the foundation to create the shapes painted. Cruz's idea was that through use of the golden mean, and an instinctual use of color one could be brought closer to the cosmos, divinty and overall peace by creating visual balance. The Bank Museums have a current exhibition of his work on the bottom floor. This exhibit is very worthwhile as it shows you a window into not just the artform, but the artistic movements in Costa Rica, and English signage is available. 

Additionally, the city recently installed about 12 recreations of his work along Paseo de los Damas. While I found them strange at first, I can now understand that through those pieces, one might find calm and balance amongst the chaos of downtown San Jose. So thanks to the city for investing in these pieces, and no thanks to the graffiti taggers that have already marked all over them.

Women in Music, Las Robertas, Nancy Buchan & Facebook - San Jose, Costa Rica

So I'm a big music freak, and have recently been looking for some female musician role models here in Costa Rica. I love when you send an intention to the universe and it gives you information.

Las Robertas: First, I am very excited to finally see Las Robertas play at one of my favorite downtown lounges, El Steinvorth. I have heard great reviews about these female garage punk rockers. I'll post a full review tomorrow. This show is TONIGHT, at 8 p.m. I am sure there will be a cover but can't find a price. Nice surprise if there isn't! If you miss them tonight they will be at Bar La Mochila on June 3 and Kiosko June 19. La Nacion review posted 5/27

Nancy Buchan: I also took a quick trip to the beach, and had the great luck of getting to see fiddle player, Nancy Buchan twice, once in Dominical where she has regular gigs at the Rum Bar, and in Jaco. We had a BRIEF chat about being a female musician while she was perfecting her craft, and it was good inspiration to persevere. We are lucky to have her talent in Costa Rica. She even gives lessons in San Isidro. She is in several bands here in Costa Rica and it appears she guest plays in a number of others. If you see her name on the agenda for a show here in San Jose a) make sure I know b) make sure you go.

Female Musicians Facebook, Costa Rica: Lastly, there is a new facebook group specifically for female musicians in Costa Rica. The group says the will be sharing news and holding meetings and events. More to come!

I'll continue to report on this topic so if there is anything I should add, musicians I should contact or feature please share.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Monumental Inauguration in La Sabana - San Jose, Costa Rica

This Saturday, visitors and expats in San Jose, Costa Rica can participate in the inauguration of Costa Rica's first female president. 

Events will take place on the mid-northern side of the park. The swearing in will begin at 10:00 a.m., with more formal events following throughout the afternoon. Then at 7 p.m. the real fun begins with a free Concert for Democracy. International artists such as Perrozompompo will perform, as well as Costa Rican greats including Grupo Mal Pais

Being in San Jose, is like being in Washington D.C., important political events are at your doorstep so head down and be a part of this special moment! 

P.S. security will be very intense in the morning, you might not be able to get very close to main stage.