Day 2: Our artists need us, and we need them

I practically swerved the car right off the road and up onto the sidewalk when I noticed the Alma Artesana Collective for the first time last month. (Not that this would have been particularly unusual behavior. Someone actually did this in my neighborhood a couple of weeks ago. With a city bus. Into a Chinese restaurant. No one was seriously hurt. But I digress.)

An oasis on a traffic-clogged intersection in Curridabat, Alma Artesana is jam-packed with the beautiful offerings of more than 40 artisans from all over Costa Rica, sharing space to defray costs. Their motto? “We don’t sell products – we sell stories.”

As someone who firmly believes that stories, especially true ones, can save us from just about anything, I took this slogan to heart and threw down the first challenge of my year of Costa Rica Daily Boost-ing. I hereby challenge myself to acquire more stories, to save more of my dollars for artists whose names and backgrounds I actually learn. As an introvert, I don’t tend to chat up artists even if I do buy straight from them at a street fair… and too often, it’s easier to buy gifts that benefit bigger companies. I want to change that. Today, art is such a source of not only solace, but also activism. Our artists are a big part of movements for change, and God knows it’s a hard trail to blaze, whether you are crafting political statements or cuddly unicorns (see below). And at a time when ugliness is so dominant – including, literally, in San José, where a new Legislative Assembly building that resembles a skyscraping bunker has been horrifying the nation alongside other, similarly grotesque towering travesties – we need to stand by our purveyors of beauty.

During the year ahead, I want say thank you to the artists and artisans around me by taking off my blinders and getting to know them wherever I can, especially when they are creating change through their art. When I can buy something from them, I will try to learn their stories so I can spotlight them here. Maybe in the process I’ll feel a little more connected to people in this city, which is something I yearn for – and I’ll see that connection whenever I look around my house.

Are you good about this? Are there a lot of stories in your home already? What’s a piece of art that’s been bringing you comfort lately? I’d love to hear about it or see it – and if you know any Costa Rican artists, please tag them or mention them here so I can follow up with them. (Check out Alma Artesana on Instagram or Facebook.)

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook!