Remembering Artist Alberto Gaitán, 1955–2022

In late July, as word began spreading across the internet that well-known D.C. artist, electronic composer, and art-community superconductor, Alberto Gaitán, had suddenly died, the emotional floodgates quickly opened. Touching tributes, personal reminiscences, and praise for his diverse and impressive body of work began flowing across the data nodes of the global network that he both embraced in his work and cautioned against. Much of the outpouring came from the D.C.-area arts community where, for some 40 years, Gaitán had been a leading light, contributing solo and collaborative work to countless galleries, museums, and public arts projects. His work also appeared internationally, in France, Germany, and elsewhere.

Everyone easily shared stories of Gaitán’s unwavering friendship, his wise mentorship of fellow artists, and his seemingly inexhaustible willingness to help others with their own tech-based art and intractable computer problems. He was both a beloved art world statesman and the community’s go-to IT guy. 

“He was a generous genius,” says poet and performer Silvana Straw. “He had a poet’s heart, full of deep feeling, intuition, saudade, and the ability to convey the depths of grief and the beauty of the wound through sound.” 

Curator/producer Kim Chan tells City Paper, “Alberto was one of the artists who defined the fervent creativity that was D.C. when I moved there in the 1980s. I cannot imagine the arts in D.C. without him.”

And composer and electronic musician Atau Tanaka adds: “In 1985, he was the first real artist that I met. His group, Art Attack, had just returned from Germany. Hearing stories of their participation in an international art exhibition gave me the bug to visit, and eventually settle in Europe. His enthusiasm, energy, and hunger for life and all things creative were completely infectious.”

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