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Ralph DeSiano is a self-taught artist. One of the Westmont man's works is featured in the newly created paintings and photos gallery in the I Report Gallery on CNN's Web site at www.cnn.com. Photo by Todd Berkey/ The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, PA.

BY RUTH RICE

RRICE@TRIBDEM.COM

Artist Ralph DeSiano has put literary detective Sam Spade in the news.

DeSiano’s painting, “Ace of Spades,” is featured in the I Report Gallery on CNN’s Web site at www.cnn.com.

“CNN had an artists calling, and I sent in two of my pictures,” DeSiano said. “They want to get a collection of American artists and put together an art gallery on the (Web) site.”

DeSiano said he has always loved Sam Spade and Humphrey Bogart’s depiction of him in “The Maltese Falcon.”

DeSiano is a self-taught artist who hasn’t attended an art class since the seventh grade.

“I took some art appreciation in college,” DeSiano said. “My friend gave me some oil paints and brushes for Christmas, and that’s how I got started.”

Having started his artistic career as a sculptor and furniture maker, DeSiano admits painting isn’t his strongest point.

“Other artists have told me they love my sculptures more,” he said. “I rework my paintings over and over so my skill level improves.”

After starting to paint with oils, DeSiano now sticks with acrylics.

“I paint heavy like an oil painter,” he said. “It gives it texture. I use a lot of paint.”

He captures animals, landscapes, portraits and philosophy on canvas.

“I try to put some meaning into it,” he said. “If I see something I like, I paint it.”

DeSiano’s home in Westmont, where he has lived for about a year with his wife, Carole, is a gallery of his work.

His wife, who has had some artistic training, also has some of her portraits on display.

DeSiano and his wife each have a room set aside as a studio.

The DeSianos came to Johnstown from Arizona, where coyotes and a mountain lion were spotted in their back yard, to get away from a hectic lifestyle, crime and urban sprawl.

DeSiano’s wife searched the Internet for a spot in small-town America and found that Money Magazine rated Johnstown high in everything they were looking for in a place to live.

“We give Johnstown an A-plus,” DeSiano said. “Carole flew to Pennsylvania, and this was the last house she looked at.

“We were sick of the ocean since we also lived on Cape Cod, (Mass.) and we wanted the seasons.”

In Arizona, DeSiano worked as a house painter and carpenter.

Because of shoulder problems, his doctor recommended he change careers.

Since coming to Johnstown, DeSiano has concentrated on his art and caring for his wife, who is in remission from cancer.

DeSiano has made coffee tables, side tables and other pieces of furniture for his family, but hasn’t sold any.

“I’m hoping someone commissions me to make something,” he said. “I have the tools and equipment in the basement. I’ve done some exotic things.

“I want to break the limit of what I can get away with.”

DeSiano started his artistic endeavors in sculpture, then transitioned to painting.

His paintings range from “Meaning of Life,” which depicts a man contemplating his fate as he looks at a skull in his hands with a doorway to heaven in the background to “Last Smoke,” depicting a man lighting a cigarette.

DeSiano also makes wooden crosses that he donates to nursing homes.

He is a member of Allied Artists and has submitted work for its shows.

DeSiano also designs Web sites. His own site is www.fusionartgallery.net, where there is a link to his eBay store where people can purchase his paintings.

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