Ben Spalluto has an unusual background. He was born in New Jersey but raised in Southern Italy. He returned to the States in 1956, worked for a while to polish his language skills, spent some time in the U.S. Army, and moved to California. Soon after, he and a friend opened a business doing television and radio repairs. That small operation grew over the years into a large television and audio store complete with service and audio installations. Meanwhile, he married and fathered four children, three of whom now work together in Santa Barbara; the oldest resides in Maui.
Ben started painting in the late 70’s taking adult ed classes at the nearby elementary school in La Crescenta. Later, he found a private teacher and worked with her for a couple of years. In the early 80’s, he took some classes with daughter, Julie, in ‘drawing from the right side of the brain’ at the community college. Some of the early works have been saved, but more should have been, at least to see the gradual and remarkable progress over the years!
Taking an early retirement, he moved to Santa Barbara, and after remodeling the new family home and putting a new business on track, he spent his spare time playing tennis and painting. Little by little, he saw improvement in his work and became encouraged to continue. During this period, he was also doing woodwork – building displays for a new project, a retail store specializing in Italian ceramics.
That store gave him a venue to show his paintings, and people were interested! And, since the store was managed by daughters, Julie and Adele, and the warehouse by son, Joe, he had more time to devote to painting.
In 2008, the store was moved to the downtown area and many more displays were needed. All of the fixtures in the store reflect his superb ability in furniture making. And there was some space left to display his oil paintings.
You are invited to stop by The Italian Pottery Outlet, 929 State Street, Santa Barbara, to see Ben’s originals.