Editor’s Letter | In Memoriam

Remembering artists we’ve lost

By Kristin Hoerth

Apache by John Nieto.

Apache by John Nieto.

This story was featured in the September 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

The western art community has lost two important members over the past few months. As sad as it is to see them go, it’s one of the wonderful things about fine art that we can remember them and their legacy through the works they leave with us.

Dee Toscano, a prominent pastelist and sculptor, passed away in April at her home near Denver. Born in Texas in 1932, Toscano was mostly self-taught, learning to draw by copying faces she saw in newspaper and magazine photos. She eventually began to paint in oils and later switched to pastels. Indians were her most frequent subjects, inspired initially by her father, who was part Cherokee, and then by visits to reservations and pueblos around the Southwest. In the 1980s she began sculpting, building on years spent studying the human figure to inform her three-dimensional work. Toscano was elected as a master pastelist with the Pastel Society of America. Over the years her work was represented by prestigious galleries, including Nedra Matteucci Galleries in Santa Fe and Saks Galleries in Denver.

John Nieto, an internationally collected painter, passed away in July at the age of 81. Nieto, whose heritage was Spanish and Native American, grew up in the Southwest as one of 14 siblings. He studied art at Southern Methodist University and was influenced by an eclectic mix of artists, from Rufino Tamayo to Franz Kline and from Willem de Kooning to Henri Matisse. He became renowned for figurative works that focused on his Native roots with flattened forms and unexpected colors. “My colors express my worldview, which is positive and optimistic,” he once said. “My colors celebrate universal, enduring human values.”

Nieto’s 50-year career was full of achievement and recognition. He received the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1994, and he created a suite of serigraphs for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. His work was the subject of major exhibitions at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in Santa Fe, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City, SMU’s William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, and the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, GA. It also resides in the permanent collections of institutions including the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the Palm Springs Art Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Art, and the Denver Art Museum. Paintings that Nieto created shortly before his death were featured in a solo show in August at Ventana Fine Art in Santa Fe.

This story was featured in the September 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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