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The artist brings beauty to life despite visual challenges | News, Sport, Work

Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski / Artist Sam Dietz works on a celestial painting at his home in Altoona.

Born with severe cataracts further complicated by glaucoma, Altoonan Sam C. Dietze didn’t let his visual challenges stop him from enjoying the outdoors or building a career as an award-winning artist.

His oil painting “Interstellar filaments” appears in the July issue of Astronomy magazine, an all-art issue dedicated to the best space art of the International Association of Astronomical Artists. The oil painting is a “expressionist image depicting a possible gas flowing through the early universe”, according to a caption in the magazine. Dietze is one of 42 artists featured in the annual special edition.

The magazine is available at newsstands and bookstores or can be purchased online from the President of the IAAA Aldo Spadoni. More than 200 entries were received and only 50 were chosen.

“Sam’s work was selected for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is because he is an excellent artist. Furthermore, he is comfortable with abstract interpretations of complex astronomical phenomena and concepts. We needed some artwork to represent some exotic aspects of the early Universe and the piece of him… captured it perfectly. Spadoni said via email. He described Dietze as a “Veteran and respected artist member of the IAAA. He explored the use of oils, pencils, acrylics and open-air painting to represent a variety of astronomical phenomena. Sam has a unique, instantly recognizable style characterized by distinct paint swatches and a bold use of color. “

Legally blind, Deitze cannot drive. Instead, Dietze (pronounced deets-ee) goes to the gym and to errands on one of his three bikes and relies on friends Diane and Frank Barry. He met Diane through her participation in Blair / Clearfield Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired programs.

“I paint the way I see things or work from my imagination”, Dietze explained. “It has been the same all my life. I have never known normal sight. I have never had it. It’s a challenge. People don’t understand. “

To read a printed letter, he holds it close to his eyes. For computer work, use extra large fonts to see the text.

Despite his disability, Dietze succeeded in his educational endeavors while pursuing his interests in science, especially astronomy. He earned a bachelor’s degree in science and a master’s in astronomy from Penn State University and then a second master’s in astro-geophysics from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

He coped by sitting in front of the classrooms, listening to audio tapes and doing better “Very verbal” teachers.

His deceased parents fed his “can do” attitude.

“They would say ‘there’s nothing you can’t do, you just have to do it differently'” He said. Except for having lived for several years at State College and Colorado, he has lived in Altoona.

The occupation proved elusive, so he devoted himself to creating works of art full-time. He paints in two different styles: plein air, painting outdoor scenes in the open; and landscapes of the skies and other planetary landscapes using his scientific and astronomical knowledge combined with imagination.

“The outdoor scenes were born from my love for the outdoors and for nature”, He said. “It’s another form of science and seeing science in nature.”

Dietze frequently joins other area artists at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art Altoona Community Create Events, said site director Hannah Harley. A solo exhibition of her work recently ended.

“I found that Sam Dietze’s art style is a modern version of impressionism. His study of light in landscapes and imaginative sky landscapes are colorful and vibrant. His works are not rigid or careful, but you can see that he is wonderfully attentive to light and changing colors. From a distance, the works of art appear as scenes, but up close they become colors side by side in a formation “, she said. “I’ve always loved Sam’s plein air pieces. By painting outside, Sam can truly focus and delight in the changing light and beautiful colors of a scene. “

Also admire Dietze’s “Generous spirit” while helping newcomers to learn.

“He has a generous spirit. Sam is a kind and caring person and is a talented and hardworking artist. Those personalities and artistic traits come together (and) mean that Sam is an inspiration to many. His art of him continues to amaze our community and it will be so exciting to see what he creates next. “

His love of the astronomical skies is expressed through larger canvases inspired by his education, imagination and photographic views of scientific travelers, such as the Hubble Space Telescope. However, she doesn’t replicate the photos but uses the images to fuel her imagination, she said.

Fellow artist and longtime friend Stephen Gilbert describes Dietze as “Very thoughtful, intelligent and a bit taciturn. He doesn’t say much most of the time. “

The two often painted together, and Gilbert praised Dietze for his artistic skills.

“He is totally self-taught. He pursues it very methodically and thinks a lot about his use of color. It is quite accomplished. I love the landscapes he makes. He has a wonderfully bizarre way of doing it that is all about him. It’s obvious it’s his job. “

His style is evident in his extensive brush work, Gilbert said. “It doesn’t detail how someone with better eyesight would. His work has a bold freshness. It’s quite fascinating. “

Dietze has exhibited his works in several solo exhibitions and has won national, state and regional awards. A solo exhibition of her works is scheduled for February 2023 at the Bellefonte Art Museum in Center County.

Local resident Chabela Grabb, former owner of a Hollidaysburg art gallery, is the proud owner of two works by Dietze on display in her home.

One work features trees in a wooded area with burning leaves of different colors.

“It’s not very defined, but all together they create a beautiful combination”, she said. “I really like your job.”

Other work presents a “Magnificent sky with trees with a dark blue evening sky. Is magnificent. The colors he paints are wonderful “.

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