When I shared the false, hurtful, unsubstantiated claims by artists on Facebook and other chat rooms against Luis Enrique and Santiago Gutierrez. NICA Ceramic Art customers responded.
Here are a few reactions in the first hours after sending the email. Reacting are people who know, trust and support these two world class artists and the effort put forth by NICA Ceramic Art.
These are facts and reactions.
San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua, has potters that have produced many fine pots, some of which are museum quality. I have in my collection many original, unique, one-of-a-kind creative and wonderful works of Santiago Gutierrez and Luis Enrique Guiterrez. Their pots are among the best of my collection. I have seen Santiago painting his raw pieces at Paul Devoti's home in Raleigh, North Carolina. I have found both men to be of the highest moral character. All three men work tirelessly to promote the wonderful one-of-a-kind unique art of San Juan de Oriente. Paul travels thousands of miles in the United States with Santiago and Luis Enrique carrying the work to exhibits and museums in the U.S. Santiago and Paul have come to my home several times. I have a friend and neighbor, David, who is a potter. He has commented many times when viewing and examining Santiago's and Luis Enrique's pottery that they are handmade perfection. David says they are indeed extremely fine and beautiful unique handmade works of art that would be impossible to produce in a factory.
Anyone who works with pottery or has seen and examined these beautiful works of art know that these works are as unique as the potters themselves. Ignorance, jealousy, and conspiracy theories must not hold sway on rational men. Men of integrity and rare talent must prevail!
I would like to weigh in on this issue Luis Gutierrez and whether or not he has a "factory" in Nicaragua. I've been to his home and workshop in Nicaragua and can tell anyone interested that he works on his own, by himself, and in his small space to create some uniquely creative pieces of pottery. He is a son of Helio Gutierrez, a well-known artist who has pieces featured in the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. I've worked at the Smithsonian for 22+ years and have seen the pieces there. And Luis has learned from his father and taken his creative talent to heights unknown in his village. I'm not sure what problems are presented with boxes marked "Nicaragua", given that Luis produces there and has to get his pottery to the various shows he attends. I've seen him in Bethesda, MD at the street crafts fair there, in his booth with Mr. Paul Devoti, several years in a row. Luis is taking no one's "spot" in any show. He's been juried in for the fine work that he does. And these unfounded, uninformed statements on FaceBook--in all their ungrammatical glory, at that--seem little more than jealousy-stoked sour grapes fueled by a heavy dose of xenophobia. For any artists feeling left out because of fine art from outside the US, I say "up your game and keep applying to shows, but stop maligning other artists with false claims".
Takoma Park, MD
I have known Paul Devoti for 9 years, and through him Luis Gutierrez. Luis is a talented artist and I have several pieces of his work. I have the highest regard for Luis and his authentic skill and artistry. I respect Paul for the work he does to bring the art of Luis to North America. I am horrified to hear about the accusations against him and Luis, accusations that are blatantly untrue. I can only think these negative comments are driven by misinformation or even jealously. We are privileged to view and even purchase work from Luis.
Dr. Nancy A Potter
Wake Forest, NC
The attacks on Luis and Santiago are ridiculous. I have been purchasing their beautiful work for many years and have visited and seen their work spaces in Nicaragua. They are unique and innovative artists who are building on the traditional methods of Nicaraguan ceramic art. Both they and Paul should be applauded for bringing this amazing art to the United States and giving us the opportunity to enjoy it. Luis and Santiago consistently win top honors in the many Art Festivals which they enter and have been doing so for many years. I sincerely hope that they can continue to participate in many venues in the US so that their work and the story of San Juan De Oriente will reach an ever widening audience.
Within our family, we have purchased 4 outstanding pieces of Santiago's pottery. Three at shows and one on the web. The works our WORLD CLASS!
We have had an opportunity to meet with both Paul and Santiago on numerous occasions and have watched Santiago create various pieces in person -- two which we purchased after they were completed -- having pictures of him working on the pieces and the final product upon completion. We have the HIGHEST regards for Santiago's works. We have had the opportunity to purchase items over the internet from Paul, who represented other artists from the village. He has been exceptional in working with and his integrity and honesty is beyond reproach!
John W. Yakimow
As former Peace Corp volunteer and lucky owner of Santiago’s pottery, and past Executive of Arizona’s second largest Art Festivals that attract close 1/2 million people it is beyond the pale any vendors to high end art festivals would question the legitimacy of Nica Art. The complaints and postings by rejected vendors smell of sour grapes who chose to use racist, xenophobic attacks in social media for their selfish purposes. As a Representive of a very talented Venezuelan Artist I am very familiar with how hard these talented Latin American artists work to feed their families. There is no place for this type attack on legitimate artists or their Champions like Paul. It must stop !
After watching Santiago work for three months at Celebration Of Fine Art in Scottsdale, there’s no question that he is one of the most hardest working talented artist I’ve met over my career. I don’t think I could see it better Then the way Ken has expressed I wholeheartedly agree
I wholeheartedly agree with your comments Kent. Enough is enough with ignorant comments regard Santiago’s talented work in pottery. Rejected vendors should feel ashamed of themselves.
Nancy Mayer Driesbock
When I found the booth containing art by Santiago Gutierrez at the Bellevue Art SAM Fair I was delighted. I am always on the lookout for works of art that are original and beautiful. I found that in the artwork of Santiago Gutierrez. It was fascinating watching him work in the booth and I appreciated being able to ask questions about the art. Unfortunately, the ability to see an artist at work has been lost to people visiting art fairs. In your booth, I found it very pleasing to meet the artist and see the artist at work. I only wish more artists that participate in the art fairs followed suit.
One thing I always insist on when purchasing a piece of original art is that it is signed by the artist. My piece was signed by Santiago Gutierrez. For people who are true collectors this is an indication to others the art is original. All of my art is signed.
I think it is great when someone can assist persons that might not be recognized worldwide to be, or find success. It is O.K. to be original, interesting, and talented. To many times I go to art fairs and I am bored to death with the sameness of one artists booth to another. Many art pieces catch the eye, but on second glance you can see that the artist has just copied the style of someone who is or was successful. I do not see that in the pieces on the NICA site. Each of the featured artists has their own style. I also noticed that each artist appears to be working at different levels and some are still developing their art fully.
From what I have read in your email, it sounds to me like other artists, from the U.S., do not want to compete with the artists from San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua. Competition keeps one on their toes and keeps them from becoming lazy with their art. Those that are complaining appear to be petty and obstructive. So unfortunate!
Artists are to be respected as they are creative. I am sorry the artists that work with you are being persecuted. I am personally hoping to see your booth again at the Bellevue Art SAM Fair in 2018. If I do not, I will continue to follow your site, looking for pieces that are of interest to me.
I offer my thoughts regarding the troubles you outline in your recent email.
Some travel the world to experience the beauty of other cultures. I was delighted to see this art form in my hometown at the Milwaukee Art Museum 2017 show this summer. The display here was especially enchanting as I could watch the craftsman at work and later learn more through your website. I appreciate both traditional and contemporary derivations of indigenous art of which this ceramic work is, I believe, an outstanding and unique example, just as as I appreciate many forms of art past and present.
Unless a show has a stated mission of showcasing only local, or regional art, I expect to find anything, regardless of origin, as long as meets a high standard of quality and is relevant and desirable, acknowledging those three quite subjective words.
I'm sorry to learn that some artists are suspicious of NICA Ceramic Art and opposed to vendors from other cultures/countries exhibiting in shows alongside them. It is sad that you learned some make damaging allegations and others assume those charges against NICA art are true, and that your reputation and opportunities suffer as a result. You have my best wishes for success in your work to support this Nicaraguan community by showcasing the product of their beautiful craftsmanship to as wide an audience as possible..
Hi Paul, I am appalled at the reaction of certain artisans who have been spreading untruths against you and the artists you represent. I have been collecting a small amount of pots from various NICA artists for years. I can attest to the fact that, depending uponn the artist, the design and execution of the work differs.
I can only think that these trouble makers are jealous of the professionalism and creativity of the NICA artists.
Good luck in defending their integrity and their right to display and sell with any artisan of outstanding quality. Sincerely,
It is with great disappointment that I learn of the artist community turning on their own. I always admire artists for their ethics, love for humanity, and willingness to share. How sad that artists are showing jealousy and sabotaging other artists. Just to let all those know, I visited SanJuan de Oriente, toured many of these artists studios, and watched them work their art. These are hard-working individuals who don't even have the best of the best in terms of conditions, materials, etc. However, their hands are magic, their artistry magnificent. They should have been discovered and recognized long before but never had the opportunity. These are not factory products. How sad you would make accusations because you yourself did not get chosen to participate in an event. As a fellow artist you should be admiring and complimenting. All I can say is that these people create their work individually and deserve the opportunities being given them.
I've witnessed Luis at the Penn State art exhibit craft these pieces by hand.
Good morning. I read your communique below. I have only interacted once with you at the Piedmont Arts Festival here in Atlanta but I can say two things: One, I absolutely love the pottery and I look forward to purchasing additional pieces; and, two, the picture below of Enrique is the person who represented himself as Enrique to me. I look forward to seeing you both again!
I have know all three of them, Paul H Devoti Luis & Santiago since the beginning. I know their work and evolution as artists. That can not be said in a factory environment . I own their work and appreciate them as amazing artists. Greed of others due to their success is breading contempt and that is disgusting!
Randi F. Solin
I ordered some pieces for the time last Christmas via the website. All three were lovely and they were very obviously not mass produced because when I ordered them, there was only mine...no others were available. I emailed back and forth with Paul several times, and he was very nice, very sincere. And, of course, he was a Peace Corps volunteer...that says a lot about his character. They have my support.
I am Paul Devoti’s Mother Robin Devoti. I have known Luis and Santiago for 20 years. They live in and work from our home when in the USA. They have become like part of my family as I have gotten to know these fine young artists and their families. I have watched them in awe create their beautiful pots. My dining room table has served as studio at times especially when getting ready and finishing a piece for an event. Each piece is individually created and a true work of art! I have watched the incredible talent that is etched and hand painted and brings forth a beautiful one of a kind sculpture from a lump of clay. Anyone seriously looking at these pots could not believe that they are mass produced. Luis and Santiago are usually working on an unfinished pot at a show and collectors are thrilled to purchase a piece and watch the finished piece emerge.
My son Paul got to know the wonderful country of Nicaragua as a Peace Corp volunteer 20 years ago. I heard Paul’s growing passion for the country and culture and was honored to travel to Nicaragua with Paul and see the country and meet the warm, open hearted people. Paul first met and saw the wonderfully talented artists over 20 years ago. A few uniquely talented artists emerged from a village with a pottery tradition. Luis and Santiago are two of the artists. They create their beautiful works or art in Nicaragua and also the USA. They each have individual studios in Nicaragua. I have seen Paul look for the right shipping solution to get the artwork from Nicaragua to the US. In the early days he packed boxes himself to keep the fragile pots safe. We have all cried when a special piece cracks in shipping. Over the years Paul has found better shipping companies to work with. The boxes are obviously from Nicaragua but not from a “factory “.
How do you handle someone or group that is unfairly maligning you? With facts and truth!! The simple truth is that these talented artists individually create one of a kind sculptures from a lump of clay. The intention of my son is beautiful. To represent these wonderful artists and share this incredible work with the world. It is his passion and belief in the people and culture that inspires. My daughter in law is from Nicaragua and I have two beautiful granddaughters that are half Nicaraguan.If I can help anyone with facts or information I am happy to provide it. Peace!
Sorry to hear about all of this. When I saw the pottery at the Las Olas art fair in January this year, I knew it was special. My friend said he was in Nicaragua several years ago and pottery is all over and very cheap. We talked about it and visited your booth again. We talked about the detail,artistic thought,and time put into the pieces. I purchased a small piece,and my friend purchased a larger one. I kept thinking about the piece,pic attached, and came back the next day to get it. Neither of us doubted the authenticity ! I know people can be vicious. Takes just one to get the ball rolling, and it has. Truly hope things work out for you and all the artists.
Sounds as though the Art Community is quite jealous and afraid of competition with him! And they should be - few people's talents can compare with his!! I am fortunate enough to own 2 beautiful pieces of his gorgeous pottery, bought at the Fountain Hills Art Festival in Fountain Hills, Arizona! I personally watched him perform his beautiful art, meticulously, with skilled hands!!
It's my prayer he will be allowed to continue his beautiful work and display and sell his work as he deserves to do!!!
It is unfortunate that you, Luis, Santiago and others emerging artists from San Juan de Oriente are subject to these petty and vindictive accusations.
As you know, my wife and I have been collecting various mediums of art including ceramics, prints, jewelry, textiles and mixed media for over 40 years. Our collection includes many museum quality pieces from artists that are nationally and internationally recognized and represented in many private and public collections. We have purchased direct from visits to the artists studios, galleries specializing in american crafts and from some of the finest crafts shows in the country such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art Crafts Show, Center County Festival of the Arts and Longs Park Craft Show.
We were fortunate to meet you and be introduced to the artists of San Juan de Orients back in 2002 and since have acquired a number of pieces by Gregorio Bracamonte, Luis and Santiago. We are proud of these pieces and they are displayed prominently in our collection. Any opportunity to visit your booth at a show is the highlight for us.
The last piece we purchased was particularly special because over a 3 day period we had the pleasure of actually watching Santiago create it in your booth. How could this be "factory made?"
The work and the artists that you represent are special and all true collectors of museum quality crafts will see through the pettiness of those whose work may not be of the same quality. These collectors will continue to support the artists of San Juan de Oriente.