Herb Cohen (left) and José Fumero in their home in 2012, filled with their artwork. On the wall are Fumero’s paintings “Misty Mountains” and “Phoenix,” and on the table are pottery pieces by Cohen. Photo Credit: The Charlotte Observer, Diedra Laird, dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Fine artist and arts proponent José Augustín Fumero, 91, died suddenly on Sept. 16 while on vacation in Nice, France with his partner of over 60 years Herb Cohen. They were just getting ready to embark on a dinner cruise when Fumero died.

Fumero was a Cuban immigrant who came to the U.S. at five. He was a graduate of Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York, N.Y. and upon graduation, worked designing car and airplane fabrics for Collins & Aikman, which sent him to its plant in Albemarle, The Charlotte Observer reported.

A blossoming relationship ensued once he met Cohen in 1956 and they lived in Charlotte, N.C.

A fixture at the Mint Museum, Fumero served on the staff, including exhibition director and acting director.

In 1972, the couple uprooted and moved to Blowing Rock, N.C., to focus on their art on a full-time basis. There they helped found the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum and served on its first board. Many considered them “founders emeritus,” the Observer added.

The couple returned to Charlotte at a later date and were embraced by the arts community.

Fumero lost an eye as a teen and a failed cataract operation when he was in his 80s left him almost completely blind, the Observer said. He “created a new way to paint, by scanning images into Photoshop, magnifying them to examine small portions, and then painting the images with digital brushes. Then, he painted them again on canvas with acrylics or oil paints, with his face right up close to the canvas.”

Fumero and Cohen were seen all around town, at CreativeMornings/CLT breakfast lectures, for example, and hosted a Mint event at their home.

The Mint’s Kathleen V. Jameson, Ph.D., shared “The Mint family mourns the loss of one of our most treasured members, José Fumero. An accomplished painter and textile designer, José enjoyed a many decades-long career in the arts communities of Charlotte and Blowing Rock. At the Mint, he was an active volunteer in the former Theater Guild, a devoted member of the Delhom Service League and Founders’ Circle, an impassioned teacher, and a stalwart supporter of the Mint’s educational programming. … Our deepest condolences go out to our friend Herb and the many friends and family members whose lives have been indelibly marked by José’s generous, creative, and engaging spirit.”

info: mintmuseum.org.

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.