Artist James DePietro finds inspiration for his work from countless sources: a poem, a song, conversations between friends and strangers, quotes he has heard or perhaps something he sees while walking around town.
“All of these various stimuli, directly or indirectly, influence and motivate my creative process,” DePietro said. “They allow me to envision my artwork and help to convey my message about contemporary issues in our ever-changing world.”
The Bethlehem, Pa. native is featured in this year’s Hunterdon Art Museum’s Members Highlight Exhibition, which will run until Jan. 8, 2017. DePietro was selected by Gail Stavitsky, the chief curator of the Montclair Art Museum and the juror for the Museum’s 2015 Members Exhibition.
DePietro is a visual storyteller, often creating a series of paintings to express his views. His earliest works in this exhibition – Earth and Sky and The Language of Flowers from The Animalia and Flora Series — celebrates the beauty of nature by weaving together images of plants and animals in simplified surroundings while contrasting the subjects with colorful backgrounds, borders and text. Through his paintings, he often offers an ironic or humorous take on social, political or environmental issues.
“Making my feelings known through my visual imagery on a multitude of subjects is my main conduit of self-expression,” he said.
In The Deconstruction Series – represented in this show by Parrot Tulips and Two by Two – DePietro mixes decorative borders and fields of color with text, conveying a definite message to viewers. Meanwhile, relying more on color, form and design, DePietro’s The Shadow Series utilizes objects and their shadows to accentuate the subject matter on display. Topics vary, but the element of texture come directly into play in this series.
“I love to layer my paint, cut and mask out areas to manipulate vibrant fields of color or borders that are a stark contract with my realistic subjects,” DePietro said.
DePietro also noted that the give and take between artist and viewer is essential. “To provoke thoughts about issues that plague our troubling world or to just stop and appreciate the beauty in our natural environs makes me believe in the energy and spirit that art can provide,” he said.
DePietro taught in the Bethlehem Area School District for 35 years, where he encouraged students to appreciate the arts. He was nominated three times for the Bethlehem Educational Scholastic Trust’s
(B.E.S.T) Award for Excellence in Teaching, winning the honor in 2008. That same year, he was one of the recipients of The Top Educators in the Lehigh Valley Award.
Active in several art organizations across the Lehigh Valley, DePietro has served on the Lehigh Art Alliance board for many years, and is working with the Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission City Hall Rotunda Committee to help organize ongoing exhibits for regional and emerging artists.
Image: James DePietro, Deconstruction No. 2: Two by Two