Opening Sept. 19 at the Institute of Mosaic Art in West Berkeley, the SAMA member and Portland artist’s solo exhibition “Sketches in Slate” showcases Fitzwater’s year-long exploration of slate as a mosaic material. From the flowing lines and curtains of color in his early “Progress” to the chunky chaos and subtle color overlay in his most recently completed “Diversity Gradient,” “Sketches in Slate” provides the rare opportunity to see this body of work in one show.
Fitzwater is a largely self-taught artist who began his exploration of mosaics in 2008 after retiring from a career in software engineering.
Speaking about what appealed to him originally about mosaics as an art form, he said: “It looked constructive yet was expressive; the small pieces could display fluidity and texture; could make angles and curves yet mosaic techniques remained mysterious and unknown to me.”
Fitzwater sought out the best sources, traveling throughout Asia, Europe and the U.S. to study the techniques and scope of this diverse art form. “I discovered that mosaic art was ancient, contemporary, architectural, functional, religious, community-based, fine art, folk art, geometric patterns, portraiture, scenes of nature, animal depictions and abstractions and it all mesmerized me,” he has written.
Not surprisingly, Fitzwater favors the abstract. Geometry plays a strong role in his designs, which often reference ancient Roman, Byzantine and Moorish patterns. Noted Bay Area mosaicist Michael Kruzich, a master of the Italian Ravenna technique, who is also known for intricate, perfectionist designs, notes that Fitzwater’s work reveals “an advanced sensitivity and awareness of line, composition and the effect it can have on the eye and emotions.”
Read more of Laura Paull ‘s (general manager at the Institute of Mosaic Art) article at