John Nieto is considered one of America's most well known and dynamic contemporary artists. Born in Denver in 1936, Nieto traces his ancestry, a mix of Native American and Spanish, to the seventeenth century in New Mexico. While growing up in Roswell, John made the decision very early in life to become an artist, claiming he never thought of doing anything else for a living.
After graduating from Southern Methodist University with a B.A. degree in Fine Art in 1959, Nieto went on a "vision quest" to Paris to seek direction for his art. While in Paris he became impressed with the Fauvist techniques of vivid color and bold outlines which he incorporated into his style. However he did not find his significant subject matter until he returned home to New Mexico. During a visit to his 86 year old grandmother's, she asked him "Johnny, will you paint about my people?" Recalls Nieto, "That is when I started painting Native American themes. It was like being born again."
Nieto's precision of form combined with broad strokes and intense colors create a distinctive style that has won legions of collectors and admirers worldwide. His work was displayed in the Reagan White House and is currently hanging in the Reagan Library. In 1994 he received the prestigious New Mexican Governors Award for Achievment in the Arts. His art was used for the official poster of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
In 2002 John suffered a stroke and was nearly comatose for two and a half years. In July of 2005 he was admitted to the Southwest Medical Center in Dallas for congestive heart failure. The treatment for his heart failure helped facilitate a "miraculous " recovery which cured all his stroke symptoms as well. His recovery made national headlines and within days Nieto was painting again.(Click here to read an article on John's recovery)
Today John lives in Rockwall, Texas with his wife Renay and two of his three sons.
""I'm in a trance when I paint. It's like being a drummer -- you don't look at the drums, you just know intuitively where they are."