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The Karen Wray Gallery Welcomes Donato Spitzer

on September 4, 2019 - 9:53am
Artists David Trujillo, left, and Donato Spitzer will display their work Sept. 19 through Oct. 21 at The Karen Wray Gallery. Photo by Mandy Marksteiner
By Mandy Marksteiner
Los Alamos

The Karen Wray Gallery welcomes multimedia artist Donato Spitzer to the gallery. Spitzer will present a joint exhibition with his newest pieces alongside David Trujillo’s newest work in September.

Trujillo introduced Spitzer to the Karen Wray Gallery and to the Los Alamos community. Spitzer met David Trujillo at an event down in the valley called the Mad Scientists Club.

“It’s a group of entrepreneurs, conspiracy theorists, folks who worked at the lab, that got together,” Spitzer said.

After they got to know each other Trujillo suggested that Spitzer bring his art to The Karen Wray Gallery. He also helped him find his place in the Los Alamos community by helping him find contracting work.

“I told him I was looking for work and asked ‘what can you do?’”

When Trujillo found out that Spitzer was a contractor he gave him a project to do in his own home and then proceeded to recommend him to half the people on his block.

“In fact, I’m working two doors down from him,” Spitzer said. “And really, I barely leave that block for work. I’ve worked for about 10 different people on that block. He always jokes that he gets a commission. I appreciate how much he’s helped me promote my work.”

Being in Los Alamos helped him find his place creatively and professionally

For the past year Spitzer was juggling trying to promote his art online while working as a contractor on the side. But he was getting burned out and his efforts weren’t paying off.

Now that he’s showing his art exclusively at The Karen Wray Gallery, he got his contracting license and is focused on developing his contracting business by working with Los Alamos homeowners.

He does a variety of projects. He’s currently doing a bathroom remodel and taking a raw space and breaking it up with a closet. He started out as a woodworker, and does tile, painting and drywall and will put together a crew if necessary.

“I have a strong sense of aesthetics, which I bring to my construction work,” Spitzer said. “There are just so many choices. With things like paint and materials. One of my strengths in my art and in my contracting work is my knowledge of materials.”

People also like the fact that he has a small company.

“It’s just me,” he said. “And so, when I’m on a project, I’m the guy who’s on that project. You never have to wonder who’s going to show up.”

“Los Alamos feels like a nice community,” Spitzer said. “People care about what’s going on. And that’s kind of nice. I live in the valley but feel very comfortable in Los Alamos. I like showing at Karen’s Gallery. I like the people I work for up here.”

Spitzer developed his unique process after learning “it couldn’t be done”

He has several wood tables and gilded images that were made using his own unique process that he has been developing for 30 years. In his early 20’s he attended several gilding and faux painting workshops in Long Island with a master finisher who did restorations and repair.

“I’ve always like patinas. I was never going after the bright gold finish. I liked all the different colors that you can get,” he said.

When they were learning how to gild on glass, he asked his teacher, “Can you patina the leaf on glass using this process?” and she told him, “No. That won’t work. You can’t do that,” which made him want to figure it out even more.

His dad was a chemist and bought him a couple of chemicals that he had read about.

“I started mixing them up and just trying to play with different ways of just doing it, so it holds up and won't fall apart the next year,” Spitzer said. “I end up with a huge pile of rejects … but, you know, if you don’t have a big pile of rejects, you’re not trying hard enough. You’re not pushing yourself.”

After experimenting he has used these methods to do projects in hotels and restaurants in Philadelphia. And more recently he started to do abstract pieces, just playing with the different metals, and eventually adding images and using them as wall hangings or as part of a piece of furniture.

His newest work combines bone, patina, chainsaws and velvetImage Properties

Example of Earth Art by Donato Spitzer. Photo by Mandy Marksteiner

“What I’m most excited about is the newer pieces I’m working on for the show that David and I are doing in September.”

The pieces are fascinating. The multimedia earth paintings have things like bones (skulls and spines) covered with patinas or with iron paint. There’s a rusted chainsaw, cut velvet, and a tin can with a delicate floral pattern and bullet holes. Another piece has a honeycomb with a bee.

The elements are all things that he’s collected on hikes, butterflies, an old metal toy spaceship that’s been crumpled, dried flowers that were handed down from his grandmother or borrowed from his scraps from his wife’s art projects. The background it local earth from Galena and Abiquiu that he mixes with acrylics so tt it will never fall apart.

“Everything’s prepared well,” he said. “I try to make things that you can pass on to your grandkids.”

The reception for “I Should Have Known by Now” featuring Donato Spitzer and David Trujillo is 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 at The Karen Wray Gallery, 1247 Central Ave., Suite D-2, in Los Alamos. The exhibition will be open through Oct. 21.

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