Artify Jaco And Jade Rivera: Illuminating Walls Through Cultural Perceptions

Charles Boyd and The Costa Rica Team

Jade Rivera, Peruvian street artist, currently visiting the Jaco Community

Artify Jaco is both a movement and a project which started in 2016 as a collaboration between Stewart, the low key art aficionado and owner of Tico Pod Art House and Gifts, and Emily Easton Reyes. Emily, an artist in her own right and Assistant to Stewart at the store, returned from a trip to Bogota, Colombia last year newly inspired and impressed by the street art. Artify Jaco was born and has since evolved with a mission to beautify the Jaco Community through connecting both national and international artists with local businesses.

Wendy Greenwald joined the initiative to complete the team of three. Recently, the three street art fans reached out to and secured a visit by Jade Rivera, a self taught street artist from Lima, Peru , to paint a large mural on the back wall of Jaco`s El Jardin building, adjacent to supermarket Mas por Menos.

Jade met with us personally before beginning work yesterday morning, on a day that turned out to be perfect for painting outdoors. Coming close to the end of his project, this intelligent, humble artist shared some insights into his own history, work, and impressions of  Costa Rica. 

Ideas and Influences

Jade Rivera working diligently. Jade mixes all his paints from primary colors.

The Costa Rica Team:  What are some of the influences for your art?  

Jade:. I adapt to the place where I am going to paint.  I have painted a lot in Peru, about Peru, so I like to customize my paintings to the culture of the country where I am painting.

CRT:  Do you wait until you are in the country to get an idea of what you will paint?

Jade:  Before I go to the country there`s some investigating,  And then after I arrive I like to take photographs of places, of people. I am a realist painter.  I use a lot of photographs for my paintings. I like to take a couple days to check out the surroundings. And in those days, any person can be the principal character of what I will paint…a person selling in the street,  a businessman, a woman in her home, a child playing.The place tells me what wants to be represented.

Connecting with youth is something that comes natural to Jade

CRT: Many of your paintings have a child or children in them

Jade:  I feel more of a connection with children because it is easier to introduce the culture to them. If you teach them culture through music, painting, or writing, they can observe more, learn more than adults.


Self Taught Artist

CRT: You are a self taught artist since 1997. Did you have a specific experience that prompted you to desist studying at a national school?

Jade:  In Peru, I studied the three months required before attending University. There was a group of 300 people studying and they would accept five. I finished in sixth position. After that I had the opportunity to study in another place with 10,000 people. One day I was painting using two fingers and one of the instructors told me you can´t use your hands to paint. They wanted to tell me how I should paint and I decided to leave the program. I think it was the best decision because I was very young, 18 years old, and more easily manipulated.  However, I realized the professors were close-minded.

CRT:  How have you continued to grow as an artist?  What and or who has enabled you to develop as an artist?

Jade: Many things.

  ” Investigating, research. Consistency. Understanding things. Observation. That is the secret. My best talent is to understand how things work. How they are constructed. To observe is to understand. There is an order in everything, even in the creation of a work of of art.”  –  Artist, Jade Rivera 

Talking with other artists has also  taught me a lot of things.  

First Impressions

CRT: This is your first time in Costa Rica. What has impressed you the most?

Jade:  For me, what always impresses me about a new place are all of the things that my country (Peru) doesn´t have.

“In this case, the nature here is spectacular to me…the level of the forest, the mountain, the greenery, the ocean…”  – Jade Rivera

Also, the turtles. I visited the Isla de Tortuga and the fact you can walk on the beach and see turtles, laying their eggs, we don´t have this in Peru.

Also the rain impresses me.because it almost never rains in Lima. (laughing). Lima is like a desert. 

CRT:  Anything specific about Jaco that you have noticed?  

Jade:  The amount of foreigners here.  I´ve met people from so many different countries and I have never experienced that in any other place before.

The Boruca

CRT:  One of the main themes of this mural is the Boruca and the Boruca masks. How did you discover this indigenous group?

Jade: Mainly through talking with Stewart, because he has a lot of contact with them through his store. I was attracted to their culture and the masks. I looked up more information on the internet and realized that this indigenous group is very close to nature. This drew my attention. Also the Borucas are an isolated group: they live far away from here, there isn´t very good access to where they live.

Aerial photo by Rise Up Shots Photography

I wanted to show them respect, with a big mural that shows part of Costa Rica`s roots, in order for them to be more well known. In the beginning, we didn´t know how the Borucas would like the idea but we spoke with them and they loved it.

CRT:   You are visiting with your wife, Brenda. How long have you two known each other? Is she also an artist?

Jade:  We have known each other more than 15 years. She doesn´t paint but we travel together and she helps keep everything in order for me. All the things that I can´t attend to while I am painting.

CRT:   Do you have a favorite typical food of Costa Rica?:

Jade:  Here it is the gallo pinto (smiling).

CRT: Do you have a favorite painting (of your own)?

Jade: (smiling) Siempre la ultima.  (Always the last one).

If you are in the Jaco area, please stop by and check out the mural by Jade Rivera.

Thank you, Jade, for visiting our Jaco Community and adding the beauty of your talented work, something which will inspire and edify, educate and mystify. We wish both you and Brenda enjoyment and relaxation for the remainder of your stay.  Buen viaje y pura vida!

We look forward to all future projects coordinated through Artify Jaco`s vision and hard work.

**Note:  Jade`s responses are translated from Spanish and in some instances are paraphrased.

The Costa Rica Team

Emily Easton Reyes, one of the driving forces behind Artify Jaco, feeling very much at home at Tico Pod Art House and Gifts

Follow Jade on Facebook and instagram @jade1rivera. His website is

“Artify Jaco is still in need of donations. If you like to help build our community and promote more art, culture and community pride, please let us know.  Private donations are welcomed. Business owners are invited to become an official friend, supporter or sponsor of Artify Jaco. Details on the business sponsorship opportunities are available by contacting Wendy Greenwald at Artify Jaco. Gifts of accommodations for the artists and meals at local restaurants are also needed.  –  Artify Jaco 


All Photos by The Costa Rica Team, except where noted.