First in a series on extraordinary women Costa Rica."
By Gafay Kyriss
Special to The Tico Traes
The office of Dunia Molina, director of the National
Gallery in San José, is a showroom in itself. Large-format paintings by
Argentinean and Korean artists decórate the waíls, while family
photographs and exhibition cataJogs are neatíy placed on bookshelves and
Featuring Costa Rican and international art and technology in 12
splendid show rooms on two floors, the country's largest gallery is part
of the Costa Rican Science and Culture Center, better known as the
Children's Museum (see sepárate story).
"The National Gallery is open to all kinds of art, from painting,
ceramics, engraving and instailations to photography, video and
digitally generated images," the dynamic director explains. "To
democratiza art is our mission, and thanks to the excellent con-tacts
with foreign embassies in Costa Rica, we are connected to an
internationaJ arts community rangirtg from Asia and Europe to North
The Costa Rican gallery director and renowned watercolorist, whose slim
frame, open smile and chestnut hair make her look younger than her 66
years, organizes more than 50 exhibits a year and regularly offers
macramé, origami and candle-making workshops in the Children's Museum.
Though Molina has been in charge of the gallery for 13 years, she says
she is not at all tired of her job.
"This place has a lot of positive energy,"
background," the bÜingual director recalls. "But Costa
Rica is home to me; it's the place where I grew up.*1
After returning to Costa Rica, she studied painting with acclaimed
masters Francisco Amighetti and Margarita Bertheau, receiving her Master
of Fine Arts degree from the University of Costa Rica (UCR) in 1983.
From 1990 to 1994, she served as adminis-trator for San José-based art
school Casa del Artista and coordinated important art and photography
An award-winning artist and member of the Costa Rican Watercolorist
Association, Molina has more than 40 group and solo exhibitions to her
credit. Her watercolors have been featured throughout Costa Rica and
elsewhere in Latin America, the United States and Hong Kong.
"To me, painting is a pleasure and a responsibüity. After work, I relax
while I'm immersing myself in it," says Molina, who ñames U.S. painter
Georgia O'Keeffe as ont of her role models.
On weekends, Molina spends time with her children and two grandchildren,
with whom she plays darts and tours the countryside.
Asked about the realization of equal rights for both sexes, Molina is
"Costa Rica is improving every day," she states. "There are quotas in
politics, and mam women already occupy important positions. Since we are
more efficiency-oriented and used to working harder, I am convinced that
one day we will become the majority."
The National Gallery is open Tuesday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.;
Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For info,
cali Molina at 258-4229, ext. 131, ui visit www.museocr.com.•
she says. "It's
an honor and a task for me being in this position, and after raising
four children, 1 can do what I love to do."
Molina stresses that 13 years is not a long time for an institution like
the Children's Museum, and that "history is going to tell if we did our
Job well" The opinión of the artists and the feedback of the visitors
are of great importance to her, she says, while the gallery's tight
budget is a constant concern.
Born into a
cultured San José family, Molina was given a paint box and brushes as a
young child and, at the age of 4, dreamed of becoming an artist. At 20,
she moved to the United States, where she lived for 20 years. She worked
as an artist and designer in Illinois and Nebraska, got married and
brought up four children.
"I enjoyed living in the United States and never had problems because of