40 Prominent People | John Nieto

John Nieto
Painter • Rockwall, TX

John Nieto

Distinction: Nieto’s contemporary canvases have helped to change the definition of Native American art.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the art world during your career? Just as the cream rises to the top, the quality of art that has survived and flourished has stood the test of time. One of the biggest changes I’ve seen is the passing on of many of my contemporaries. There’s a whole crop of new artists on the horizon—and that’s invigorating.
How do you define success? I think “success” is doing something you love for a living. And, of course, deriving a measure of fulfillment and satisfaction from it.
How would you describe your contribution to the contemporary Indian art movement? My paintings are my point of view on a subject that is very important to me on a personal level. I hope that point of view finds an audience that considers it of interest.
People would be surprised to learn that … I was completely out of commission from a stroke for three and a half years.
Where do you find inspiration?
Being alive inspires me. Also history—family history and world history.
What role has Southwest Art magazine played in your career? I must say, Southwest Art has played an integral role in the development of my career. Over the years, it has reached a target audience for me and my art. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the magazine for the exposure it has provided. After all, “unseen is unsold,” and it is the premier publication in its field.
Describe yourself in one word. Grateful.
If your home or studio was on fire, what one thing would you save? My black hat.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next 10 years? Personal growth.
How would you like to be remembered? As a positive person who left a footprint.

Featured in “40 Prominent People” in May 2011.