Lonely Planet Writer

Check out this open-air art gallery in the middle of a vineyard on Pico Island in the Azores

An open-air gallery, open 24 hours a day, in the middle of a vineyard on Pico Island in the Azores, has become an unlikely tourist attraction.

View from Horta of PIco Island.
View from Horta of PIco Island. Image by Thomas Stankiewicz / LOOK-foto/Getty Images

The art installations are scattered around, some are under construction still, and some are slowly disappearing (due to weather conditions), but the point is for them to be organic and, eventually, be taken over by nature. For the first time the gallery made the tourist office map as point of interest this year.

Please do not sit installation by Albino Terra Garcia.
Please do not sit installation by Albino Terra Garcia. Image by Davide Sousa

At the Galeria Costa, owned by the local arts organisation MiratecArts, visitors are welcome to meander through a vineyard, down a one-kilometre pathway, in search of the more than a dozen of the art installations on display. Some are half-hidden in the foliage, some of them are already almost completely overpowered by nature and the island’s weather conditions, and some of them are in a “work in progress” phase.

Tas Co Olha installation by Coletivo Nora.
Tas Co Olha installation by Coletivo Nora. Image by Davide Sousa

While artists are welcome to explore the property’s trees, vineyards, and volcanic rocks, during work on their creations, the gallery requests that visitors follow the designated path so as to not damage the plants and the artworks. Scattered around over twenty-thousand square miles of land, the brightly-coloured art pieces pop in contrast and are easily seen from the pathway.

Initially opened as part of the third edition of the Azores Fringe Festival, in June of 2015, the gallery was an unexpected hit with locals and tourists, and more than 1500 people visiting in that month. Terry Costa, the Canadian-Portuguese director of MiratecArts, decided then to make it a permanent point of interest. This summer, the gallery became part of Madalena’s official tourist map.

Unlike other art galleries and museums where the main goal is to preserve the artworks, here the approach to showcasing art is organic. For Terry, “it’s important to address the organic nature of art and if nature takes over and the pieces disappear over time, so be it.” Galeria Costa is open 24/7 and admission is free. The gallery is a constant work in progress, and artists who want to contribute can submit their projects through the official website of the organisation.