I thanked Saint Peter for finding Gavrilă Hotico-Herenta at home in his Ieud village – it was 29th June and work across all villages of Maramureş was grounded to a halt in observance of one of the most important religious festivities of the year. Otherwise, it would have been impossible to get hold of him, as it is several decades now that he moves between various sites across Romania, which his wife can attest.
Ion Bledea is not a typical sculptor. He does not have a formal education in sculpting and his starting point is rather humble. He began his ascension to fame in the halls of the artistic section of Sighetu Marmaţiei’s main furniture factory, some 35 years ago, during communist times.
Nicolae and Maria Pipaş need no introduction in the art loving circles. The initiated traveling to Sighetu Marmaţiei spares no effort to visit the Pipaş Museum, truly a collection of several museums, an impressive repository of old traditional art of Maramureş, of works by prominent Romanian painters and engravers, of carpets, ceramics, furniture, lace and more.
I first met Vasile Şuşcă in May 2009, at a traditional festival in the Hoteni village. I had known him and his his masks from pictures; even so, it was hard to recognize him: his rich, proverbial mustache wasn’t there anymore. Less than a month later, I paid him a visit inside his artistic den, a former grain millhouse abutting a river bed by now dried out for more than a couple of decades.