Permanent Collection 2017.01.01
José Agustin Fumero was born in Havana, Cuba in 1924, but several months before his fifth birthday, he and his parents emigrated to the United States where he served as their translator. He graduated from Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York and was subsequently hired by Collins & Aikman to design fabrics for cars and airplanes. This job sent him to Albemarle, NC, and in 1956, a mutual friend introduced him to blossoming potter, Herb Cohen, who was working for Hyalyn Porcelain Co. in Hickory at the time. The two later married.
The couple’s unique modern home (designed by Murray Whisnant) would become the meeting place for Charlotte’s arts community in the 1960s with weekly get-togethers on Sunday evenings. In 1972, Fumero and Cohen decided they were ready to devote themselves to art full-time and moved to Blowing Rock, where they took up residence down a street known as “Artists Alley.” While residing in the High Country, Fumero and Cohen together became monumental figures in Blowing Rock’s art scene. Both are Founder Emeritus to the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum. They stayed in Blowing Rock for 38 years, but moved back to Charlotte in 2010.
Fumero’s eyesight weakened all his life (having lost an eye in his teenage years and having a failed cataract surgery when he was 80). In his later years he was legally blind, but this did not stop him. He found new ways to continue creating his art. Fumero enlarged and edited photographs in Photoshop, printed the images on a large scale, then painted over the final product with acrylics and oils. His mosaics were created by weaving together strips of these images into intricate collages.
While on a trip to Europe in September 2016, Fumero passed away. Fumero’s vision lives on through his artwork, as well as the lives of others that he reached through his advocacy of the arts in communities across North Carolina.