Leulumoega art school founder writes from Italy

From Italy, founder of the Leulumoega School of Fine Arts, eighty-five-year-old master artist and teacher Ernesto Coter has expressed his gratitude for the art exhibition held in his honour in April.

In a letter to the Samoa Observer, Mr. Coter, who lived in Samoa for more than three decades with his late beloved wife Maria, said Samoa is a “nostalgic” place for him, a place that is rooted in his soul.

Early this year, his former student Lalovai Peseta, owner and operator of the Manamea Art Gallery in Vaigaga hosted the ‘Sons and Daughters of Ernesto Coter’ exhibition.

It was dedicated to Mr. Coter and his graduates of Leulumoega Fou School of Fine Arts.

Mr. Peseta was undoubtedly one the art school’s “most gifted” pupils, Mr. Coter told the Samoa Observer.

“Lalovai Peseta, the co-owner of the Manamea art gallery that he founded with his artist wife, is someone I remember from when he wisely followed my guidance.” Mr. Coter said from Italy. 

“He was without a doubt one of my most gifted pupils and I am not surprised that today he is having much success in his endeavours. I know that a few of my other ex-pupils are, like him, very active on an artistic level and are also good art teachers.”

He lived in Samoa from 1972 to 2003 and founded the Leulumoega Fou School of Fine Arts in 1987.

Eleven alumni, trained by Mr. Coter exhibited in the ‘Sons and Daughters of Ernesto Coter’ show.

Mr. Peseta, curator of the exhibition said it was both an homage to their teacher, and an opportunity for Mr. Coter’s former students to gather as a group for the first time ever. 

“All of these things fill me with joy. I feel so nostalgic for Samoa, a place that has always been firmly rooted in my soul. The 30 years I spent there with Maria, my beloved wife who unfortunately passed away 4 years ago, were intense and significant,” said Mr. Coter in his letter to the Samoa Observer. 

“I currently live in a gracious antique village perched above the beautiful Lake Como. I have lived here with Maria since my return from Samoa. I find inspiration here and it helps me remember my whole life spent with Maria.”

He is still very active artistically and paints and creates clay statuettes, some of them featuring the culture and people of Samoa.

In the last few months, he sculpted two statuettes, both of Samoan women.

Samoa is where he left his heart, said Mr. Coter.

“Despite my age I am still very artistically active, I paint and create clay statuettes which I then realize in ceramic, some of which feature the people and the culture of Samoa,” he said.

“You can’t imagine how strong my desire to return to what I have always considered my real home country. Unfortunately my nearly 85 years of age make it hard... but you never know! Whatever happens, it is there with all of you that I left my heart. I thank you once again and extend my most heartfelt respect and esteem.” 

Mr. Coter also thanked New Zealand native Sapeer Mayron wrote two articles about the ‘Sons and Daughters of Ernesto Coter’ exhibition while she was with the Samoa Observer newsroom.

Ms. Mayron left in May after nearly three years with the Observer and is currently writing for Stuff in New Zealand.

“I am writing to you first of all to thank you for the two articles that were featured in your newspaper and remarkably highlighted the beautiful exhibit promoted by the Manamea Art Studio, and by my ex pupils in my honor (Sons and Daughters of Ernesto Coter’ exhibition),” Mr. Coter wrote.

“I really want to thank also the journalist who wrote in such a nice way these articles, Ms. Sapeer Mayron. She was very accurate and I was very touched by her articles.”

Mr. Ernesto Coter's Letter to the Editor is printed below in verbatim:

Dear Madame the Director, Talofa Lava.

I am writing to you first of all to thank you for the two articles that were featured in your newspaper and remarkably highlighted the beautiful exhibit promoted by the Manamea Art Studio, and by my ex pupils in my honor (Sons and Daughters of Ernesto Coter’ exhibition). I really want to thank also the journalist who wrote in such a nice way these articles, Ms Sapeer Mayron. She was very accurate and I was very touched by her articles.

Lalovai Peseta, the co-owner of the Manamea art gallery that he founded with his artist wife, is someone I remember from when he wisely followed my guidance. He was without a doubt one of my most gifted pupils and I am not surprised that today he is having much success in his endeavors. I know that a few of my other ex pupils are, like him, very active on an artistic level and are also good art teachers.

All of these things fill me with joy. I feel so nostalgic for Samoa, a place that has always been firmly rooted in my soul. The 30 years I spent there with Maria, my beloved wife who unfortunately passed away 4 years ago, were intense and significant. I currently live in a gracious antique village perched above the beautiful Lake Como. I have lived here with Maria since my return from Samoa. I find inspiration here and it helps me remember my whole life spent with Maria.

Despite my age I am still very artistically active, I paint and create clay statuettes which I then realize in ceramic, some of which feature the people and the culture of Samoa. You can’t imagine how strong my desire to return to what I have always considered my real home country. Unfortunately my nearly 85 years of age make it hard... but you never know!

Whatever happens, it is there with all of you that I left my heart. I thank you once again and extend my most heartfelt respect and esteem.

Ernesto

P.S. I attach here my last sculptures made in the last months regarding Samoan women.

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