Working with Water
New York native Michael Gitter is a water artist. While he works in stone, glass, acrylic, steel, and copper, he considers his primary media to be water. His works have been seen at Art Basal, as well as in a number of New York shows. At the Brooklyn Waterfront Artist’s Coalition show, he took home the Curator’s Choice and People’s Choice awards. One of his works will be on display this summer at the Holiday House- Hamptons in Water Mill. The Holiday House will be open from June 23rd to August 4th, with proceeds benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. We recently spoke with Mr. Gitter about his inspiration, his process, and his love of fountains.
I’ve always been drawn to the sound and look of water. I love watching and hearing water flow, and the dancing reflections it makes. I love all things water: the beach, swimming pools, and of course fountains of all kinds. I am completely drawn to and relaxed by it. I need it around me at all times. People appreciate the design and the therapeutic benefits of flowing water in their homes and offces.
What is your process in designing a fountain? How much of the design process is consumed with the engineering of the fountain so that it works? Do you design alone, or do you collaborate with other designers?
It usually starts with the idea, and I sketch it out on paper. I have almost 30 books filled with fountain drawings. Next, I think about the scale. There are calculations to consider such as water flow, pressure, height, sound, flow, evaporation etc. to take in to consideration, I use a consultant for that specific work. When it comes to fabricating, I produce in metals and some plastics, but will outsource the things I cannot produce myself, like stone cutting. Then once the idea is worked out, I make a sample, usually in full-scale so we can see how everything looks and works. I fine-tune the design, sometimes making additional samples and then let it run for a few months to make sure that it’s working properly.
Do you focus on any particular materials or styles?
I would say my work is contemporary. Right now, most of my work is in Lucite, but I’m working on a collection in glass. it’s beautiful, heavy and complicated, but the end result is gorgeous. I am also working on a collaboration with a South Florida artist Carlos Alves using porcelain, taking the traditional wall fountains and giving it a twist, using ceramic in a new and exciting way. I am also planning on welding one-off original pieces using reclaimed materials. I really think making water features using bent, rusted, and otherwise discarded pieces of metal and other materials could be a very interesting thing to try.
Do you have any favorite designers of fountains, or any particular fountains that are your favorites?
I love the work of artist Sabine Marcelis. Her collaboration with Fendi and the Fendi Fountains that she did are amazing. I also love the work of George Tsutakawa, and Mark Fuller from WET Design (they created the Bellagio Fountain in Las Vegas and many others) does amazing and innovative work. And of course, Trevi is not to be believed.
How did you get involved with the Holiday Design House?
I met with designer Melanie Roy at another NY show this past winter. She had seen my work on my Instagram and thought that perhaps I could design a piece for her space at Holiday House Hamptons. We designed a piece together, which is clear, 7 feet tall Lucite with mirrors all around the inside, and it is sparkling.
You grew up on Long Island, and have lived in Miami- how has living near the ocean influenced you and your work?
I believe there are mountain people, desert people, forest people and water people. I am clearly a water person. I had a pool growing up and was always the first in it and the last out. I always had water around me, being so close to Atlantic Beach, and in Miami afforded me the sound and sight of water on a daily basis. I have always been around water. I had fish tanks growing up. I removed the swing set in the back of my family home (much to the irritation of my younger siblings) to put a fountain in the backyard. I even named my daughter Ocean.
Michael’s work can be found on 1stdibs and ARTSY through The Art Design Project (@ theartdesignproject). You can find his work on Instagram (@michaelgitter) and website at michaelgitter.com