Name: Marta and Oswaldo Viteri
Location: Quito, Ecuador
Years lived in: owned — 20+ years
Today's tour is an unusual one. The homeowners are not your average Joes and their expansive collections are not made up of your usual wares. On a recent stay in South America, I had the honor of visiting Ecuadorian artist, Oswaldo Viteri, and his wife, Marta in their Quito home. When I walked in, I literally gasped. Pieces by Picasso, Miró, Calder, and Goya dance nonchalantly among walls (and walls!) of folk art, Andean primitives, and antique religious relics. Not only is each piece unique, but through my visit I learned that each unique piece has a unique reason for being where it is.
Oswaldo Viteri is known for his art, but his formal training is in architecture, which certainly seemed to have come in handy when designing his beautiful home. He built the home in a typical Spanish colonial style with a pleasing mix of rustic and refined elements. However, it's clear from the moment you walk in the front door that the focus of the home is not on the architecture. The walls of windows overlooking the valley of Pichincha, white washed plaster walls, wood and tile floors, and rough-hewn beams are beautiful for sure, but they act mostly as a backdrop for the expansive collections all around.
Marta explained that both she and Oswaldo have always been avid collectors who are equally avid learners and teachers of Ecuadorian culture. Their collections are meant to show the idea of "mestizaje": the meshing of "pagan" and Christian influences that have made up Ecuadorian culture since the European discovery of the Americas. With the idea of mestizaje in mind, the Viteri's have arranged collections to exhibit the fusion of the popular folk and Christ-centered charisms. A wall of antique crucifixes in the entry is guarded by a pagan doll suspended above. An ornate golden tabernacle is displayed with its doors wide open to show the image of the sun, a pagan symbol, on its ceiling. And modern pieces by Spanish artists such as Goya, Picasso, and Miró pop out amongst monastic scripts and Marian paintings that are centuries old. The mix is meant to show the rich fabric of influences that blanket the Andean region.
Although the entire house is breath-taking, my favorite area was Viteri's lofted studio (which I hope to feature in its entirety in its own post). Finished portraits hang above works in progress, and an abundance of supplies and inspiration pieces are scattered around as well. It's the type of place that inspires creativity and awe from the second you step foot into it.
While the Viteri's home is certainly one of a kind, and many pieces are well beyond the grasp of the average collector, their reasons for collecting and arranging are inspiring for anyone. Each piece tells a story of the culture that they are so eager to celebrate. And because they wish to share their appreciation of Ecuadorian culture they often open their home, which they've dubbed the casa museo de Viteri, to private tours. Oswaldo says that art and life should be intertwined, and that his home, which he wishes to share with those who study and appreciate art, is a celebration of both. You can learn more about Viteri's art on his website.
Thanks, Marta and Oswaldo!
Images: Leah Moss
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