Some artists develop a particular style and stick with it, refining elements along the way but keeping to the straight and narrow. Double that equation for Vineyard Haven artist Traeger di Pietro. He is lucky enough to have two different galleries display the two different styles he works in.
Impressionistic landscapes and still lifes make up one style for this prolific artist with a distinctive palette. At North Water Gallery in Edgartown, he exhibits Island scenes such as “Allen Whiting’s Horse” or “Flatpoint Farm in Fall.” Cloud-dotted skies loom over coves and fields; fishermen with their backs turned observe the vistas as moody proxies for the painter himself.
Mr. di Pietro’s contemporary and mixed media works take off in a different direction. They make their home at the Field Gallery in West Tisbury, and he has an opening there Sunday, Aug. 5, sharing space with Marlee Brewster Brockmann, who paints misty impressionist landscapes.
In the artist’s contemporary work, a swan might wear a bow tie, an elephant a party hat. In the mixed media piece “Lost and Found,” a fox noses at a pair of black-rimmed spectacles. A tiny rocket and cutout stars hanging from strings show up. A series called “Urbana” depicts figures walking on busy city streets. “Being a Girl” dresses a row of cavorting females in bright patterns. The contemporary pieces often suggest a social message like superficiality or hierarchies in modern culture.
While Mr. di Pietro explains his impressionist paintings by calling himself an observer or spectator who paints what he sees, his contemporary and mixed media work springs more explicitly out of childhood memories and his subconscious. An oil spill in a warehouse, a piece of scrap paper, or a wood knot might stimulate his imagination.
“All these puzzle pieces float around in the back of my mind,” he says. “Then they pop up when I’m trying to make a painting.” At that point he will take an everyday object and manipulate it. “I literally can create anything that I want. I become a designer, a doctor, a landscaper. That’s the beauty of art.”
Before he immersed himself in art, Mr. di Pietro’s passion was baseball. A catcher, he was recruited first at the University of New Hampshire, and then when that program was cut, the University of Maine, majoring in studio art. After college, a friend talked him into coming to the Vineyard for the summer, and he never left. He hung up his cleats and started supporting himself as a driver for one Island soda company, before switching to another. By then he was painting seriously.
Park Corner Bistro in Oak Bluffs agreed to display a few of his paintings. Then Holly Alaimo, owner of Dragonfly Gallery at the time, took a half-dozen still lifes for a flower show. A client bought all of them, and Mr. di Pietro’s career was launched.
“I like putting all my energy into creating,” he says. “The beauty of painting is that you’re only competitive with yourself.”
Opening Reception for Traeger di Pietro and Marlee Brewster Brockmann, Sunday, August 5, 5–7 pm, Field Gallery, West Tisbury. For information, call 508-693-5595 or visit fieldgallery.com.