In 1961, my family traveled to Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador. I was 16, and my brothers and I had a great time.
While in Quito, we visited the studio of Olga Fisch, a Hungarian expat. There, she and her staff were making high-end rugs for sale in the large department stores in United States (and probably elsewhere).
The rugs were very beautiful, and my parents purchased three of them. One smaller one with a floral pattern, and two larger ones with an intricate hunting pattern (titled: “Caceria”). At the time, the themes of her rugs were definitely European, but were hand-knotted by local Ecuadorians.
Fisch (1901-1990) was an artist, art dealer, and cultural advocate. Born in Hungary, she traveled widely. In 1932, she married her second husband, and the couple emigrated from Europe due to tensions resulting from their Jewish heritage. Eventually the couple moved to Ecuador, where Fisch began teaching at the School of Fine Arts. There she befriended students and teachers, and made inroads into the local artistic community.
During the 1950s, Fisch designed several successful rug patterns, including the famous “caverna” and “caceria” series. The former was inspired by the Lascaux cave paintings of France that were discovered in 1940.
By the 1960s, Fisch’s rug and folkart business was a rousing success. She also started a non-profit museum dedicated to Ecuadorian culture, and a handicraft shop called Folklore that is still a cultural landmark in Quito. Fisch’s later style adapted ancient Ecuadorian designs for a modern living environment.
I returned to Fisch’s store in July 2014. Today, Folklore is high-end store for native handicrafts. I told the sale’s person that my parents had purchased several Olga Fisch rugs in the 1960s. She indicated that a large rug from that period was recently sold at Southbys for $2,500. The upper floor of Folklore contained a small but interesting museum. The store is definitely worth a visit if you are ever in Quito.