Ritch Gaiti's horse paintings on display at Straube Center

Friday, March 30, 2012
Special to the Times

Ritch Gaiti, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native, worked as a technology executive on Wall Street before giving that all up to paint. He is now considered to be one of this country’s foremost equine painters.

He has exhibited in the International Museum of the Horse in Lexington, Ky.; the American Quarter House Museum in Amarillo, Texas; the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Okla.; the Great Plains Art Museum in Lincoln, Neb.; and the Ellen Noel Museum in Odessa, Texas.

He was honored with the People’s Choice Award of the 2009 American Plains Artists exhibition and the Judges Award of Merit in the Trail of the Painted Ponies National Art Competition. He is now building a strong following with galleries and collectors throughout the world.

We can see a collection of his paintings of horses right here in the Straube Center in Pennington.

But don’t expect to see a proud horse leading a parade down Main Street or prancing in a corral. Don’t visit the exhibit hoping to see a sleek stallion crossing a finish line with a jockey on his back, or a pony peacefully grazing in a daisy-filled meadow.

Gaiti’s horses run free on the open range. He captures their strength and their grace as they stand majestically surveying the open terrain that is their natural habitat, or galloping across the land where there are no highways nor houses, no office buildings nor shopping malls. Instead, he takes the horse and the viewer back to “another time and place” that he describes as “a simpler time.”

“My focus at this exhibit is horses in motion. I love the beauty and grace and strength of horses mingling within the herd, or just being free,” he says. “They are always on their way to, or coming from, somewhere — something just happened or is about to.”

In “Fire Ride,” a strong Palomino horse is seen galloping through flame colored light, his white mane and tail flying against a rich brown background. “From a Far-Off Place” shows a herd of horses walking hoof deep through sparkling water where only the lead horses are clearly defined. The others become lost in a vapory mist.

Gaiti employs that expressionistic manner of painting often. Some horses are more forward than others and are seen in greater detail. In “Heart of Night” you see four horses gathered as if in community while others are suggested in shadowy tones in a purple background. In another, a pair is standing in profile, their heads casting shadows on their bodies. Another horse looks over their backs and several others, their backs to the viewer, are only suggested with dark lines on a blue atmospheric background, suggesting they are turning away.

Three white work horses are portrayed portrait style and in detail in “Spirited.” In “Painted Spirit,” a brown and white horse, his mane brown and tail white, is seen running through deep orange and purple grasses against an orange sky.

Gaiti seems to have a visceral understanding of horses. He not only accurately and beautifully paints what the horse looks like, he also conveys personality and mood in such a way you feel you know the horse you are looking at.

In “Enchanted,” a lone stallion stands in still composure while a storm swirls about him. His stance, the gentle look in his eye speak of his self-assurance, his acceptance of where he is and who he is.

“Contact” gives a glimpse of an intimate moment where one golden brown horse and another whose coat is a deep purple black lean their heads together in communal understanding,

“Out of Time,” however, is different from all the others in that it portrays a running horse whose body is rendered in the same colors and texture of the rocky cliff from which it emerges. Look closely and you will see small horse images painted in the horse’s rock-like hide.

Although Gaiti’s palette consists of the richest, most vibrant, earth tones, they are colors that don’t anchor the animals to the earth and rocks. Instead they set them free to run and splash through sparkling water, to fly through grasses and underbrush set afire by blazing sunsets.

Check out Ritch Gaiti’s website gaiti.com and, in addition to finding more equine images, you will see his paintings of Native Americans and cowboys as well as a broad sampling of works under the category he titles “Ancients and Spirits.” You will see that in addition to being a painter, Gaiti is also a writer.

The distance from being a Wall Street executive to a painter of the horses running free in the mountains, deserts and valleys of the West is vast. But, as you’ll see in this exhibit, Gaiti has competently traversed both miles and time.

“My goal is to put the viewer not only into another time and place, but also in the subject’s heart,” he says. “I dedicated this series to a simpler time.”

“Strength, Grace and Freedom”
When: During regular business hours, through May 25
Where: The Straube Center, 
1 Straube Center Blvd, Pennington
Contact: (609) 737-3322 ext. 113, gaiti.com or ritch.gaiti@verizon.net


One Straube Center Blvd • Pennington, NJ 08534 • Phone: 609-737-3322 • E-mail:
Straube Center Boulevard surrounded by Route 31, West Franklin Ave., Knowles Ave.-Bixby’s Way, and Broemel Place