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David Witbeck

Scott MatzjaszskAlthough the Hudson River is tidal for over a 150 miles, all the way to Troy, NY, a few miles from the suburb where he grew up, in the first 18 years of his life he spent no more than a three or four weeks, on family vacations, anywhere near salt water. Yet he always drew pictures of fishing boats, lighthouses and stormy seascapes and read every sea story he could find in the school library.

When studying at Pratt Institute, he’d often bunk my morning painting classes to hang out at the Fulton Fish Market and take photographs of fishing boats with the Brooklyn Bridge looming behind them and of longshoremen pushing handcarts loaded with crates of iced fish over the cobbled streets. Witbeck got hooked by photography which, with all the social turmoil of the late ‘60s, seemed to be a much more relevant pursuit than the seeming inanity of the ‘60s New York art scene. After dropping out of Pratt in 1968 (it didn’t have a photography program at the time) he moved 400 miles inland to study photography and didn’t see the sea again for another ten years.

When Witbeck decided it was time to return to college Rhode Island School of Design was his first choice largely because of its proximity to salt water. He had been a free-lance photographer for 25 years after graduating from RISD and used his camera to open a lot of doors. Witbeck states "The excuse of shooting a photo-essay is a great way to get into situations that I otherwise couldn’t, such as getting aboard tugboats, lobster boats and commercial fishing vessels. Photography, though a great documentary medium, doesn’t interest me as an expressive medium. Having been a photographer for the more than three decades, the greatest joy I have as a painter is freedom from “reality”. While subject matter is still important to me, I can bend, twist, stretch, exaggerate and simplify the things I see. I can put things in and leave things out. I can even completely make things up. I can paint how things make me feel instead of simply what they look like."





36" x 48"


Original OIl on Wood

Margaret and Wiley


36" x 46"


Original Oil on Canvas


36" x 36"

Original Oil on Board

The Crabber

40" x 30"

Original Oil on Canvas


40" x 26"

Original Oil on Canvas


30" x 24" Framed

Original Oil on Canvas