A Breath of Fresh Air
Danny Herrara and Artify Jacó
Born in the Caribbean province of Limón, Costa Rican artist Danny Alexander Herrera Batista lived his early years in the countryside. From the time he began painting at age 15, he has devoted himself to creating landscapes and animals. Using mostly acrylic paints, Danny enjoys using many different techniques and surfaces, from canvases to bird feathers and murals.
Having grown up surrounded by nature, Danny has always been motivated to paint what is around him. With exceptional powers of observation and recall, he has cultivated an incredible talent for painting everything from memory, never using photographs or any other images to complete his beautiful artwork. Every piece is translated and recreated from pictures and sensations recorded in his mind.
Currently residing in Quebrada Amarilla, a small rural town near Jacó, Herrara has created 20 murals during his artistic career. Six can be found throughout Jacó, including projects for private properties.
The artist’s love for the color blue will be noticeable if you have the pleasure of viewing any of his paintings around Jacó, or in Tico Pod Art House & Gifts in the town center. The hummingbird mural he recently finished for the Artify Jacó 2020 project is a notable example.
Second-time Artify Jacó muralist
Early into the COVID-19 pandemic, Danny was invited back for a second time as a muralist for the Artify Jacó, launched in September 2016 as a civic pride movement in the central Pacific coastal city. Contemporary street art and related community initiatives reflect the common theme of “Art. Love. Nature.”
Herrara’s initial contribution to Artify Jacó was through the widely known “Find Your Wings” project. After he painted the community’s first pair of macaw wings on the red wall beside Wishbone restaurant, many more artistic depictions of wings quickly appeared on other murals around town.
During a recent conversation with Stewart Invierno, co-founder of Artify Jacó, he told me, “With the goal of large scale murals in mind, we wanted to get a quick start and introduce art into the community, so we started the #findyourwings #buscatusalas project”.
When asked about the inspiration behind the #buscatusalas project, Invierno replied, “We wanted to do something that involved art. We believed in the power of public art to build a stronger community and we wanted to encourage more of that in Jacó. We chose the ‘Art. Love. Nature.’ theme, believing that nature has the ability to inspire, heal, and bond us.”
Most people who live in or visit Jacó seem to have an affinity for nature, Stewart noted. “Our art installations are a reminder of the majesty that surrounds us, and a reminder for people to take care of it. On a higher level, our natural environment is something we all share in Jacó. It can and does create culture and community. We want to celebrate that and encourage it.”
‘We believed in the power of public art to build a stronger community.’
Beauty and hope
As for Danny Herrara’s involvement, Invierno added, “It was an idea whose objective, apart from beautifying Jacó, was to generate hope.”
Jacó has been very supportive of the murals as they pop up around town, Stewart said. “Two of the largest painted walls are outside the main supermarket, which means we all get to enjoy a bit of art in our life on a regular basis! As we are a non-profit volunteer group, and we rely on donations from local businesses and private citizens to fund these walls.
From the beginning, Invierno’s local business, Tico Pod Art House & Gifts, has been donating time, employees and some funds to keep Artify Jacó growing. Tico Pod recently sold prints of the iconic “Fragil” mural by Antonio Segura Dona (known by the name Dulk), depicting a real-life toucan whose reconstructed prosthetic beak made global news headlines, with partial proceeds going to fund the Artify Jacó 2020 mural Herrara was commissioned to paint.
In addition, local Jacó resident Lisle Head and his Vacasa office staff have been constant supporters of the project since its inception. Co-sponsorship of Danny’s wall, together with Tico Pod & Vacasa, has covered the artist’s costs for labor and all materials. This sets an ideal example of a community supporting community betterment.
Nature freeing the mind
Having taken a short break after installing four new murals in 2019, Artify Jacó rose to the challenge of responding optimistically to the COVID-19 pandemic, Invierno stated.
“With the effects of COVID on everyone’s mind, we wanted to offer some forward momentum in Jacó — some hope on the streets and some money in the pockets of local artists.”
Herrera affirmed, “The idea is to deliver a positive message in the midst of this COVID-19 global pandemic and to reflect peace. I came up with a hummingbird because hummingbirds are known as bearers of good news. It also carries a message, a text on its beak.”
To discover what the hummingbird’s message says, the artist invites visitors to view the mural, located next to the Banco Popular in front of the main street of Jacó Beach.
A look to the future
Fellow local artist Delphine Raveau is working on a second Artify Jacó 2020 wall mural. A third participating artist will be announced soon.
Both Danny and Delphine wanted to paint something that offered a special message of hope in these tough times. While Herrara’s hummingbird inspires a song of unity, Raveau’s wall is based on one of her best-loved paintings, entitled “Esperanza”.
Connect with Jacó art
If you are interested in bringing some art into your home or business by the talented local painter Danny Herrara, contact him at WhatsApp: 506 6440-0971.
You can view all the other wall murals around town in a single day by following the Jacó Art Tour route. Learn more by clicking this Howler article link: Painting the Town Jacó