Ditacchio Stretches Her Wings
by Joan Marks
Ditacchio is in the vanguard of a new generation of Provincetown Artists
who are more interested in exploring emotion than in depicting reality.
At age 26, she is an exceptionally talented painter who has lived in this
community since the age of nine and is rooted to it by her family as wall
personal ties (her father David, is the town's marine superintendent).
Her talent has earned her a coveted spot in Yale University's graduate
arts program beginning next month, and has sparked an uninterrupted spate
of solo shows in the past four years. The latest is at Gallery 349 through
those who play it close to the vest, Ditacchio is so quick to share what
she has learned and she has been an important resource for young artists
in the area seeking to launch their careers."I feel like I've helped
a lot of artists get their act together," she says. "Sometimes
its just a question of saying, 'You can do it, you can make your slides,
you can show.' I didn't get a lot of guidance myself in terms of being
an artist as a career. I felt very much alone. Now I think, why not help
Ditacchio clasps her hands together on her knees as she speaks about her
life and her art which sustain her. Her right wrist is tattooed with a
Phoenix. It is a Birthday present that she gave herself. "I've always
identified with that image. I'm completely captivated by soaring birds,
especially this one, a symbol of expansion."
A tall angular woman with a shoulder length straight spill of brown hair,
she seems to blend equal amounts of resoluteness and reserve. The same
qualities are apparent in her strong, dramatic paintings which suggest
but do not actually replicate architectural elements in the landscape
that have been scarred by the passage of time-train yards, gravel pits,
abandoned bridges and factories.
am not interested in finding the exact shade of brown of a telephone pole,
but in getting the feeling of the pole against the sky," she says.
It is unusual to pile up thickly textured, swirling brushstrokes in paintings
of such spareness, but the technique works. Modified over long periods
of time, these deceptively simple paintings are built up, layer by layer,
one color on top of another creating a luminosity that is exalting. What
seems to be black is really red over blue over green.
"I always have tons of paintings around my studio," Ditacchio
says. "I work on four or five at a time so I can keep fresh with
what I am doing, putting down some layers and then letting them sit and
breathe for a while, then coming back to them. I could work on a painting
for a year and then suddenly I have them right color on my brush and boom!it's
done. It's got to be spontaneous."
Ditacchio follows the footsteps of three generations of women artists
in her family. At the age of 10 she began drawing from the figure when
her mother, Linda van de Visse, writer and illustrator of children's books,
enrolled her in a class at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.
"I just never stopped painting and drawing," Ditacchio says.
Although she was drawn to the gallery scene in Provincetown, Ditacchio
was not loathe to switch locales after completing elementary school. "Kids
grow up really fast here. At least we had a bowling alley then, but there
wasn't a lot to do," she says, No matter what was going on in my
life I always had my painting to center me. It has given me a direction
some others didn't have."
At the Putney School in Vermont, a small private, art-oriented high school
on a farm, she started working in oils, making prints and stretching her
own canvases. It wasn't until she attended Bennington College, however,
that she found her true voice as an artists. "Until then, I was learning
skills," she says,"Suddenly I knew what I was trying to say
and was able to say it."
She is excited about the program at Yale and the opportunity to focus
completely on art. "My work is constantly changing and evolving,
and I hope it always does, she says. "I feel you should keep pushing
the boundaries of what you're doing."