Dominican Republic is most widely known for its tourist attractions than its artistic reputation. Dominican artists of international reach perform mostly on the musical scene.
Oscar de la Renta, the great fashion designer, is however a Santo Domingo native. We should also mention Paul Giudicelli, Dominican artist whose abstract paintings still influence contemporary artists, as well as Juan Medina whose works decorate the Santo Domingo cathedral and the National Pantheon.
But the savvy consumer will still find a way to little treasures, if she (finally!) escapes the beachside hawkers…who mostly sell inexpensive and low-end handmade items, jewellery, dresses or even counterfeit goods such as watches and sunglasses. Sometimes, one may even find some paintings and sculptures of variable quality.
Specialised stores are a better option when it comes to unearthing quality artwork such as finely crafted jewellery, often showcasing larimar, a coloured variety of pectolite abundant in Dominican Republic. Dominican artisans also work wood and ceramic, sculpting and casting decorative and utility items alike.
Paintings are always a beautiful souvenir of places once visited. In Dominican Republic, mainstream decorative paintings are found among most finished works, and depict cultural, folkloric and religious topics alike. A great deal of paintings is produced by Haitian immigrant artists, as is observed by the signatures and the naïve inspiration proper to Haitian painting.
Dominican law requires beachside hawkers to carry a very expensive permit; as a consequence, artists themselves very seldom sell their paintings in person to tourists.