Former news anchor to open exhibit at Bakersfield art gallery

The former Los Angeles news anchor and CBS News correspondent hung up the microphone in 2007 after a 30-year career to pickup a paintbrush and welder instead.
Bill Lagattuta calls his shift into art a second act of sorts.

The former Los Angeles news anchor and CBS News correspondent hung up the microphone in 2007 after a 30-year career to pickup a paintbrush and welder instead.

"This is man wrestling with good and evil," Lagattuta explained, pointing to one of his paintings, featuring a man and two desserts hovering over his head. "He has a choice to make. He can go with the dark chocolate or angel's food cake. And he just looks horrified having to make that choice."

Lagattuta's exhibit, "American Dreamer: Road Signs to a Reinvented Life" goes on display Friday at the Metro Galleries in downtown Bakersfield.

"I had connections, and friends and colleagues, and studio to go to," Lagattuta said of his shift from journalism. "And suddenly, I am in a room alone with a blank canvas, thinking what did I just do? Can I do this?"

And so art imitates life, as Lagattuta bottles that uncertainty through metal and paint. His portraits are inspired by the places he's been and the people he's seen.

"I can't point to this guy (in this painting) and say 'that's my friend Fred,'" Lagattuta said. "It's an amalgam of people I've met. I've met guys like him before. Working in his yard down the street."

Meantime, Lagattuta's sculpture takes on a rough feel, thanks to his admittedly rough skills in welding.

And his series of road signs rely heavily on the use of arrows, pointing to the many directions life can take.

"It can be very tough," Lagattuta said of taking a new direction into art. "But it can be very rewarding if you come through it at the other end."

“American Dreamer: Road Signs to a Reinvented Life” opens Friday, October 5 at 5 p.m. It will stay up through December 2.
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