AUGUST SUNGLOWER BY BYE BITNEY
By Bonnie Gangelhoff & Alice Herrin
Bye Bitney’s work offers a bold departure from the paintings of ranching and cowboy life often created by artists in his home state of Montana. Bitney resists pigeonholing his style and subject matter and enjoys painting still-life, landscape, and figurative works.
Lately, for example, he says he has spent considerable time in his studio painting from a model. But this month he travels to Catalina Island, CA, for the annual Plein Air Painters of America show and sale. As a recently chosen member of the prestigious organization, Bitney joins his colleagues to paint scenes of the island in the open air.
He frequently finds inspiration for his landscape works by immersing himself in sweeping views of Flathead Lake and the Swan Mountains in Montana. Known as a perfectionist, he’s likely to paint a subject over and over until he has achieved the desired look and emotion of the person or place. “I’m trying to please myself first when I paint, but I’m always thrilled when someone picks up on something I’m trying to convey,” Bitney says.
He is represented by Coda Gallery, Palm Desert, CA, and New York, NY, and Long Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ.
THE POND BY ERIKA OSBORNE
Erika Osborne estimates that she spends about 70 percent of her time outdoors. When the 24-year-old artist isn’t painting the landscape, she’s exploring it by climbing mountains, skiing, or biking. In all her pursuits, she brings a focus and determination that pushes her to work harder. “I feel like my personality is a rather intense one,” Osborne says. “No matter what I’m doing, I always try to better myself and my capabilities, and I think that the intensity I have really helps that.”
She strives to capture the energy of a place in her abstracted landscapes. “A lot of my landscape paintings are not literal translations of what I see. They’re a combination of what I see and the emotions evoked,” she says. “I clip, snip, replace, and change things, and I think it works because I’ve spent so much time outside experiencing the landscape.”
A Utah native, Osborne received a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in 2000. In August, she moved to New Mexico to pursue a master’s degree at the University of New Mexico. “I always wanted to go to graduate school,” she says. “I think there’s different ways of pushing your work—I’ve had two years of pushing it on my own, and now I want to have some outside influences, teachers and students pushing me and bringing new ideas to my work.”
Osborne is represented by A Gallery, Salt Lake City, UT.
MESA GOTHIC BY CATHERINE MASSARO
New Mexico painter Catherine Massaro is passionate about canines. “They are such friends, pals, and great models,” she says. “I’m crazy about them as creatures.” Massaro’s witty depictions of dogs often feature man’s best friend in various country and urban landscapes. And the oil paintings often offer a subtle narrative for the viewer. “I enjoy telling a tiny story about nothing more than a common situation,” Massaro says. “The more engaging ones stare out at the viewer.”
Massaro is fond of using her own dog Stella, a mutt, as a model as well as her son’s two terriers, Cactus and Brutus. A former art director, Massaro is a self-described “corporate dropout” who devotes herself to full-time painting these days. She finds real delight in the formal exercise of organizing design elements. “I love the process of constructing a painting,” she says. “I like working on the composition, color rhythm, line, content, and the opportunity to engage an audience.”
Massaro is represented by Gallery A, Taos, NM, and Wilde Meyer Gallery, Tucson and Scottsdale, AZ.
Featured in October 2002