The Turning Point for the Southwest Artist
Western artist John Nieto has a miraculous background that he draws upon to add emotional depth and meaning to his art. His paintings have won wide acclaim for providing colorful narratives of Native American history. All the work the well-known Native American artist completes offers a window into his own narrative and focuses on themes and icons he to which he can relate on a personal level – elements that he believes have universal resonance.
In 2002, Nieto suffered a stroke which suddenly changed everything. The aftereffects of the stroke made it difficult for him to speak, walk, or even complete basic tasks due to uncontrollable shaking. He lost all interest in art in the months and years that followed, and he completely gave up painting until a stranger in the hospital changed everything three years later.
Nieto believes that an angel touched him and his wife on that fateful day, giving him back his ability and drive to paint. His contemporary art has touched many individuals’ lives before and since his period of darkness, creating powerful and colorful images of bears, wolves, and other Native icons. People familiar with his work may not notice the difference between his art before and after the stroke, but for Nieto, the reason why he paints changed. Instead of painting in a reactionary manner, he paints with an open mind and in exploration of his inner and outer world.
At their best, works of art offer us glimpses into the realm of the supernatural – into aspects of our universe that we generally ignore or fail to dignify with the attention they deserve. By transmogrifying his personal struggles into art to share with the world, Nieto has helped open the eyes of many to a subtler appreciation of the universe’s magical moments.