LIFE as a member of the community of artists and fine-art lovers in Costa Rica is about to get a whole lot richer.Slated to open sometime in the summer of 2006, the Sunshine Gallery, currently in the early stages of construction in Cariari, northwest of San José, will bestow upon art aficionados a multi-sectioned, 2,000-square-meter facility that will host international and national showings, including art exhibits from countries never before seen in Costa Rica.The facility will feature an amphitheater that seats approximately 150 people, which may be used for art tutorials or discussions, as well as an outdoor sculpture viewing area, manmade streams and an underground parking facility. “The building itself is a work of art,” said gallery co-founder Maggie Brooks, who will be one of two regularly featured artists.Originally from Zurich, Switzerland, Brooks has been a Costa Rican resident since the 1970s, and currently has works on display in Argentina, Canada, the United States, Switzerland and the Philippines. She and her husband, U.S. citizen Robert Brooks, decided to start the Sunshine project after running a popular private gallery out of their home for three years.A partnership with Philippine-born and Costa Rican-trained painter Gigi Mercado lent the gallery its second resident artist –and presiding theme.“We saw that Costa Rica, although known on a regional level (as a country of quality art) was not known as much globally,” Brooks said. “There was not much knowledge about Asian art in Costa Rica or about Costa Rican art in Asia.”According to Brooks, Asian art is becoming incredibly popular on the world art stage at the moment, yet it is relatively unknown in Costa Rica.“They have different techniques and bring together new ideas – ideas that most of Costa Rica has not yet seen,” she said.The Sunshine Gallery is currently working with the Taiwanese Embassy to put together a team of representatives to travel to the Asian countries of Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines to search out art groups and other galleries with which they can participate in art exhibit exchanges.After making the necessary connections with these groups in Southeast Asia, the Sunshine Gallery will employ a committee of well-known artists and art scholars to select which local artists will be given the opportunity to participate in exhibits sponsored by the Sunshine Gallery in the foreign galleries, according to Brooks.ALTHOUGH Southeast Asian art will be a central theme of the international exhibits to be featured at the gallery, it will not be the only region represented. According to Brooks, the gallery is also associated with the Art International gallery collective, based in Switzerland, and Art Basel Miami, a group of U.S. art galleries headquartered in Miami, Florida.The Sunshine Gallery is currently hosting a smaller gallery in the western suburb of Escazú, which is open to the public by appointment. The gallery includes a model of the Sunshine facility and selected works by Brooks and Mercado.For more information or to make an appointment to visit the Escazú location, see www.sunshinegallerycr.com or call 239-0539.