San José is full of hawkers, and most of them sell junk. They watch over piles of shoes, purses, or used remote controls. When the police show up, they bundle their wares into a blanket and book it down the street.
But every once in awhile, you run into an actual artist dabbing paint onto canvas. These are some of the most interesting people in the city, because they are often desperately poor but also astonishingly talented. Most of these paintings are landscapes, in the pastoral style of Fausto Pacheco. They arrange their works along the sidewalk, and they often set up their easles or cradle their watercolor pads in their laps.
Of all the merchants roaming the thoroughfares of Costa Rica’s capital, these guys are worth interacting with. You can find a “Despicable Me” footbag anywhere. But an original painting, created on the street by an artist you can actually chat with? That’s one of a kind.