Stan Bitters

Local resident and renown sculptor Stan Bitters loves to get his hands dirty transforming ordinary clay into environmental ceramic works.
After graduating from UCLA in 1959 with a BA in painting, Bitters became a designer for the Hans Sumpf Co. in Madera, then the world’s largest producer of adobe brick. “With 20 tons of clay to play with,” Bitters recalls, he designed monumental clay murals. “I twiddled my thumbs for a few years,” says Bitters, “you need to be able to play.” For the last several decades, the artist and designer has played plenty by pinching and pressing clay into oversized planters, molded it into figurative sculptures known as “potato people” and carved it into decorative reliefs.
Bitters created numerous outdoor ceramic sculptures and murals for buildings, banks, and department stores across the west. Bitters believed that “art and life ought to merge in everyday life.” Bitters is most associated with environmental art which traces its growth as a “movement”, beginning in the late 1960s or the 1970s. Early on it was most associated with sculpture having arisen out of mounting criticism of traditional sculptural forms and practices which were increasingly seen as outmoded and potentially out of harmony with the natural environment. A sort of early form of today’s hot green movement.
During the interview for this post I had the privilege of viewing his current project; a massive fountain for a Southern CA retirement community garden. He was working out the structural issues with such a massive fountain by first using wood to figure the needed angles before creating the skeleton out of steel bars. He guessed he had another 6mos. just to figure out all the mechanics before he could begin the fun part of finally adding the art face. “I used to think the 60’s were the best time; now I think it’s today” Bitter’s tells me. I have to agree after being fortunate to spend a hot summer evening at his studio.
Locally, we have fine examples of Bitters fountains and sculptures all over the city with a high concentration of them downtown. Biiters “used to be excited about the (Futlon) mall” donating several pieces to the historic urban pedestrian mall installed in the 60’s. “The original mall had computerized lights and fountains with music playing” Bitter’s recollects. “They even had jugglers performing regularly, but that only lasted a few years”, he sadly reminisces. Today, he is somewhat disillusioned with the city’s lack of responsible oversight of the multimillion dollar collection of public art. Not one to let the mud dry beneath his feet, Bitter’s moves on. Today he has created hundreds of works which are collected and installed around the world.
Join About Town Taste walking adventures for the Downtown Art & Architecture soon, and see some of Bitter’s works, before its too late.
We cover all the spectacular art & architecture woven with stories, like Stan Bitters, and others of who make our city great…..and we even include food on our tours. The next date is November 6th at 10am so give us a call to reserve your place today!

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