Olympic organizers turned to John Nieto when they needed an artist who could capture the spirit of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games motto: Titius. Altius. Fortius. (Swifter. Higher. Stronger.) “Hopefully, I paint with some authority,” said Nieto, who claims Spanish, Navajo and Apache ancestry, although he said he is not an enrolled member of a tribe. Apparently, the Albuquerque-based artist has learned to paint his Native subjects with authority.

“We were looking for an artist who could really represent that motto and give it a fantastic look,” said Jack Scharr, president of Fine Art Limited of Chesterfield, Mo., and a member of the committee that selected Olympic artwork. “He was the hands-down favorite.” To represent the Winter Games motto, Olympic organizers chose three mascots: Hare. Coyote. Bear. The artist painted the Olympic mascot trio as a limited-edition print, now one of the top three best-selling posters of the Winter Games. “It’s great to be selected, but it’s also great… that Southwest people are selected to represent our country and culture,” Nieto said.

Source: Lincoln Journal Star.