The Whole Shebang


4] Etchings by Michael DiBitetto

I wrote this story last year for a class but I wanted to share Michael DiBitetto’s work with others.

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Wind chimes hang by the front door as the wind blows it back and forth. Vibrations and the whistling of a passing train and a semi truck are heard. The smell of paint comes from one end of studio number 201. Prints of vibrant landscapes with bright colors and high contrast between lights and darks hang on the walls. Michael DiBitetto, 52, is in his studio working on a print.

 For DiBitetto, art has always been something he was good at.  As a child, he took up various art classes and his parents were always supportive of creativity. Even in high school, DiBitetto was designing diagrams and illustrations for his classmates in science labs. Art proved to be his talent and this eventually led to print making.“I was always more of a two dimensional guy,” he says, “Even when I worked on a landscaping truck in high school and college I did illustrations of people and portraits of peoples pomeranians and dachshunds.”DiBitetto was born in Bronx, NY and moved to Long Island when he was six. He grew up in Nassau County. DiBitetto attended the Nassau Community College which at that time was the largest community college in United States. One year, he got a scholarship there for his printmaking.“I was recognized for my profession there. It was a good reinforcement. You know the universe is telling you something when you get a scholarship.”

Later DiBitetto attended New Paltz College in New York to continue is interest in print making. After graduating college in 1984, DiBitetto stayed in Long Island for a while longer, where he held various delivery jobs handling art work and doing delivery work for art shows and museums.

“I had a van and I was savvy enough to drive at all hours, which eventually burned me out.”

In 1994, DiBitetto decided to move to Eugene. Now, he wants to find challenges for himself that are outside his usual work. In DiBitetto’s last 16 years living in Eugene and as a member of the Eugene Saturday Market, he has found that people have a real relation to the land and realized that he does too.

“I kind of came out to Eugene before I actually moved here and I found it to be beautiful and mysterious with the fog, the sun, the light, clouds and even the wetness too, which makes it very magical with the moss,” says DiBitetto, “The big trees and big mountains are also interesting to me, although I didn’t grow up with them, so it’s still a novelty to me on that level.”

DiBitetto has also been challenging himself to work with different genres. Currently, he is creating prints in groups of three: three flowers, three cityscapes from Portland, three separate prints of horses.

“Threes a good number,” says DiBitetto, “I think that two would not be enough, five might be too much but three, if you hang them, there’s going to be a little bit more recognition because there’s something in the middle of the other two.”

DiBitetto enjoys going to events such as the Blue Grass Jam to hang out and take photos there to have reference material for future prints. He is also excited for the Shoji Show at the Japanese Garden in Portland that will take place this year from July 23 to Sep. 5, 2011. The show is juried and decided by the chairman. DiBitetto first participated in the show last year.

“They’ve kind of latched on to my output so I’m going to have to keep that going,” he says, “Having done the show, I know what to expect a little bit more and maybe I can give them a little bit more.”

DiBitetto has been inspired by settings such as Spencer’s Butte and Mt. Pisgah. He also enjoys taking pictures of the top of mountains from an airplane.

“That one, with the big tree up there for example,” he says pointing at a large print hanging above the couch.

DiBitetto also enjoys taking photos and making prints of the Oregon Country Fair and the Oregon Coast. 

“I have a couple galleries on the coast and I feel so inclined to keep up with them, so I do things like this…” he says pointing to a print, “This is one of Bandon Beach.”

DiBitetto’s art is mainly influenced by Japanese art, particularly by an artist named Yozo Hamaguchi. As a child, DiBitetto always preferred drawing over painting. Later, he tended to gravitate towards print making.

“Anybody who has ever done anything creative often will see things in other artist that gets them excited,” says DiBitetto. “There are some qualities that my work project… somebody once said they never get tired of it because it always looks different to them which I found very interesting.”

DiBitetto’s other influences include ancient art from Germany and Italy. Recently, he saw an art show at a museum in Arizona about the baroque painters in Naples. Since then, he has gravitated towards baroque style himself.

“My most recent piece, right over there,” he says pointing to another print hanging above the couch. “It’s very dramatic by high contrast between lights and darks and a lot of hard lines. That’s kind of like what baroque is like: shadow manifestations.”

DiBitetto’s main goal in his art is just too keep at it.

“Being an artist is not so much what I do but kind of more like what I am,” he says, “The things that I really love to do is challenge myself with new genres.”

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