The Visitor: Volume 10 Number 11, May 21, 2004

"Cielito Sur: Where art and nature becomes one"

How much does environment influence an artist's work? Perharps a lot. Certainly there seems to be a connection between the work of Janet Lee and the exquisite surroundings of her home Cielito Sur (Little Southern Heaven) bed and breakfast hotel in the high mountains of Volcan Baru in Chiriqui.

Janet works mostly with glass, taking much of her inspiration from the brilliant birds, butterflies, flowers, rushing rivers and verdant cloud forest of the Chiriqui highlands.

This gave Janet both time for her art and craft work and an outlet to sell it.

Across the immaculate lawns from the main house and the four rooms which comprise the resort, Janet has a dedicated building for her studio and shop, to which she escapes whenever her chores permit.

Cielito Sur idyllic garden seen through th window of Janet's studio and shop Mrs. Janet Lee working on her beautiful glass creations

Janet and her husband Glenn who have dual nationality, USA and Panamanian, opted for early retirement from the Panama Canal Comission when the Canal was transferred to Panama and adapted a family week-end retreat on six acres of riverside property close to Cerro Punta as an exclusive B&B resort.

She is then able to indulge her fascination for the vivid colors transmitted through the glass which is the raw material of her craft.

Soldering the glass into cunning lead frames (and sometimes burning herself into the bargain), she fashions mobiles, hanging ornaments and figurines. Her imagination often goes beyond her environment into Christmas themes, fishes, stars of David, and pure whimsy. When we visited her studio recently, she was busy with her most ambitious project to date - a sizeable Tiffany lamp.

Janet's shop also offers an excellent selection of handicraft of the Ngobe-Bugle Indian tribe which inhabits the highlands. They are expert weavers and are known for their ornate bags which are called chacaras. The comfortable and luxurious rooms of Cielito Sur are decorated with artifacts from Panama's main indian tribes.

The Inn is located on the road from Volcan to Cerro Punta.

Cielito Sur Tel/Fax: (507) 771-2038, Cell: 602-3008 or 597-0822
Mailing address: Apdo. 327, Volcan, Chiriqui, Rep. Panama or P. O. Box 025207, PTY-4216, Miami, FL, USA