The towns of Santa Ana and neighboring Escazu, immediately southwest of San Jose, have long been magnets for artists. Escazu in particular is home to many contemporary artists: Christina Fournier; the brothers Jorge, Manuel, Javier, and Carlos Mena; and Dinorah Bolandi, who was awarded the nation's top cultural prize.
Many of Costa Rica's new breed of artists have won international acclaim. Isidro Con Wong, from Puntarenas, is known for a style of "magic realism," with works in permanent collections in several United States and French museums. Once a poor farmer, he started painting with his fingers and achiote, a red paste made from a seed.
The government-subsidized House of Arts helps sponsor art by offering free lessons in painting and sculpture. The Ministry of Culture sponsors art lessons and exhibits on Sundays in city parks. University art galleries, the Museo de Arte Costarricense, and the many smaller galleries scattered throughout San Jose exhibit works of all kinds. The Centro Creativo, opened in 1991 in Santa Ana, west of Escazu, offers courses and studio space for local and visiting artists.