Monday, April 21, 2014

Gearing up for the Install
The Joplin, MO Mural Project 

From The Studios of Garin Baker
Blog Post
April 21tst, 2014
11 AM

Bet E 7th & E 8th Street on S. Main St., Joplin, MO

Mural wall 95 ft long by 20 ft at its highest point.

Located smack dab in the Heartland of the US of A is the small city of Joplin, MO.  Situated in the southwest corner of Missouri with a population of around 200 thousand.  At one time it was the mecca of the Midwest for zinc production and the Performing Arts, boasting everything made of steel was coated with zinc from Joplin, keeping America from rusting away for almost 100 years.  It was also quite the snappy little town with several Performing Arts Theaters and many a famous performer from LA to New York traveling through along Route 66, playing the "Circuit" heading to and from Chicago. 

Like many small cities through out the country, industrial contraction and the loss of major manufacturing caused commercial and economic decline but with Joplin, tenacity and self reliance, the people have always taken the blows and come back swinging.  Adding to all of this, 3 years ago, practically 1/3 of Joplin was obliterated by one of the largest tornados ever recorded in human history.  A mile wide by 13 miles long, (that's roughly the size of the island of Manhattan), over 150 lives were lost, 500 business, a major regional hospital, schools, churches,..... all ripped an blown apart in a matter of minutes. 

Looking west along 20th St., Joplin MO, 2011

Since then the revitalization has been massive, new homes, schools, hospital and churches. Construction is everywhere. The downtown is lively again with art walks, music festivals and restaurants of all national and international flavors.

Back in 2012 and the early spring 2013 I was invited by The Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce to begin working on a large scale Public Art Mural  located in the middle of downtown.  When I first arrived I was amazed, never experiencing what I was about to see.  Looking out as far as the horizon there was complete devastation. Yes I was in lower Manhattan after 9/11 but this went on for miles.  I was awestruck and thought how could one possibly tell this story with just one wall of art.  What surprised me more than anything was the desire not to dwell on the devastation and heartache but to reach back to their past and with all its spirit, begin again, building their future. This truly profound message was a lesson taught to me so poignantly by so many I spoke  with personally, quietly yet passionately demonstrating what I can only express as the "mid western character'.  

Plans for a new performing arts center and what we all could do together celebrating Joplin's future.  So after much discussion and revising of preconceived notions I set about the task of researching all the grand and spectacular performing arts venues that had existed in Joplin's past. The long gone and demolished Club Theater, its rowdy entertainment during the 1900s and how it stood as a beacon on bustling East 4th Street a block west of City Hall.  Crowds would make their way there on a Friday and Saturday evening after a long week working in the mines.  The Fox Theater with its classical interior filled with wonderful marble statues and decretive motifs would entertain social elites and theater goes until the 1970's.  And now symbolically looking past the twisting of tumultuous times of the past, the beautiful faces of youthful dancers, stretching, rehearsing, and expressing the simple joy and optimism about Joplin's collective future.

Approved Mural Design Maquette

The Design was approved in the fall of 2013 which allowed me several months to paint in my New York Studio in 36 sections, each measuring 5 ft. wide x 10- 8 ft long, using nova colors on Parachute cloth.

My rolling studio palate and several detail images of the work in progress below:


All the Mural sections have been rolled, shipped and have arrive safely in Joplin, MO. 
During all of next week we'll be installing on site with an unavailing and dedication ceremony scheduled for Sunday, May 4th 2014.  If your any where near Joplin, MO on May 4th, come on by and join us for the culmination of this wonderful project. 
I'm looking forward to finally seeing it all in one piece myself!

I'll be posting installation progress images on instagram @ garinb and facebook so check out my pages and follow when you can.
#garinbaker  #joplinmuralproject 

Also sign up for my "From the Studios of Garin Baker" Newsletter @

Thanks for taking the time and hope you enjoy.

G. Baker


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ireland Workshop Announcement
July 30th - Aug. 6th 2014 
with Artist Garin Baker

From The Studios of Garin Baker
Blog Post
April 6th, 2014
8:00 AM

A few years ago I traveled to Italy with the most wonderful group of teachers, students and artists. The entire experience was filled with the most wonderful creative energy.  It was there I met Rosita Gilson. She's a bright light of exuberant living has invited me to her Maperath Art Center located just a short distance from Dublin, Ireland. 

Our plan this year is for eight days from July 30th till August 6th in the amazingly beautiful Irish countryside. With the added interest and focus, planning several side trips to many town scenes and villages as well as posed sessions with locals. Meals will be a communal affair. Evening critiques with deserts and art filled discussions..  

She through her Maperath Art Center offers the most wonderful creative experiences, art, yoga and a relaxing time away from it all, recharging the creative batteries.

Workshop priced at $1495. US (includes lodging, light breakfast and dinner). 

If you need a wee bit of time away from it all and an opportunity to discover and rekindle the pure joy of creating, I hope you will join us.

Please contact Rosita at:. (845) 258-0375

'Tuscan Panorama", Oil on Linen, 16" x 36" 2005c.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"Back to the Drawing Board", #3 

From The Studios of Garin Baker
Blog Post
February, 18th 2014
8:50 AM

In my last post I began to reminisce, going back to my roots attempting to gather some clues as to what motivates the creative process and the choices an artist makes toward methods, means and subjects. 

Through out the history of art, artist have been moved to create works of personal, financial, social, or cathartic reasons. So much of todays attempts at rekindling representational art and the contemporary art audience renewed interest in craft and skill based work has allot to do with what has come before and the seemingly disingenuous art market that hoisted so much work that lacked credibility promoted as "new, ground-breaking or cutting edge".  

I remember while in college at Pratt Institute during the early 1980's as a fine art major being criticized constantly as being "too academic" and that my choice to paint the figure representationally had already been done by better artist than I. So why waste my time?

My dear friend from High School Paul Casale and I banded together against the constant onslaught to find our own way. We commandeered a studio. Racks of huge abstract student paintings stored all around surrounded us as we painted from life for days, weeks and months on end.  Using a hand made model platform set in the middle of the room we posed anybody that would, we sought out examples and teachings in the works we were so drawn to, Sargent, Sorrolla, Repin, were among many others we found in NYC Museums and books. With a street wise sense of humor, we argued our way through, even convincing the chairman of the fine art department to pay for our models.  During break times we even played stick ball in our tucked out of the way huge studio on the sixth floor using a broom stick and rolled up discarded tape ball. We worked alone and laughed as we made our own rules.  I remember Paul, (he did the best voice imitations), using his best sports caster voice, " It's a long fly ball off the abstract expressionist".  A home run was the really awful conceptual discarded auto tires intertwined and hanging on the back wall.  What a time we both had as we grew better together, " Academically" of course. 

Paul has since past away tragically, way too soon and I can still hear his jokes and clever Bay Ridge, Brooklyn challenge to, "never forget who you are, where you come from and creating from an inner voice about your life with honesty and authenticity".

I see so much work today striving for that "signature style", which amusingly I remember was taught so vehemently by professors in the Illustration Department where both Paul and I would go to find some, who at least were sympathetic to our approach.  Many Galleries in New york at that time where showing, "photo realism" and kitch subject matter like neon signs with lots of reflections, painting little shapes colored flat or laid on thick, as Paul would say, "paintings by the pound". 

So style over substance was and still is the mainstay. Completely encouraging though to see all that has changed in people's perceptions of traditional approach and skills and truly wonderful to see major collectors and galleries more knowledgeable about contemporary representational art.  A new generation of representational painters is crowding ateliers and workshops all over.  Quite thrilling to see and be part of these days. 

Maybe Paul's simple message from the streets of Brooklyn can somehow get through all the clammer.

Garin Baker.

Friday, January 3, 2014

"Back to the Drawing Board", #2 of 4

From The Studios of Garin Baker
Blog Post
January 3rd 2014
11:10 am

5 min gesture, charcoal on canson paper. 2013

Continuing from my first post on this subject, I thought I would try and express the long view, now that I'm a couple years over fifty, on where I've been thru-out my 30 years now as a "professional artist".  By that I mean creating art for a living.  Paying the bills primarily with what I can create from my mind on canvas, paper, board or someone's wall.  I guess that's a loose definition of what a professional visual artist is,... but who cares, Right?......  And maybe nobody should, and if you don't, click away now,  since this post might be a bit egotistical and self indulgent or a clue for someone embarking on this journey to be a professional artist themselves and the sheer madness, desperate courage and faith it takes to be driven to communicate a personal and human story through their work.

5 min gesture compilation, charcoal on canson paper. 2013

Growing up both my parents were something of beatniks and hippies and each had careers in the arts.  My dad as a filmmaker and my mother a designer.  So at an early age I was always surrounded by crazy creative types hanging out in our way too small 2 bedroom apt. where me and my twin sisters all lived.  The Upper West Side of NYC circa 1960's- 1980's, was to say the least, at that time, a broken down neighborhood.  Trust me, nothing like it is today.  It was basically "West Side Story", but the Jets and the Sharks were primarily Blacks and Puerto Ricans.  When I was a kid dodging around the neighborhood I thought my name was "yo, white boy", No Joke!  Through sheer luck, I gaining respect.  Shooting hoops, sketching my buddies or befriending the baddest motherfuckers in the neighborhood, I was able to avoid the real desperate life altering experiences of some of my closest and earliest friends, many of whom fell victim, choosing serious drug addiction, hard core criminal behavior and self destruction.  But as a miracle and in retrospect what this all taught me was a tremendous sense of place and pride towards all the characters and simple human stories that filled this 5-10 block radius. 

In one way or another, depending on how you look at it, all our lives are that unique and filled with small miracles that have shaped and effected each and everyone of us, everyday. 

10 min gesture, charcoal on canson paper. 2013

Keeping things short, as a close, artist friend always reminds me,  I'll end this post here. 

So check back, if you desire and follow along or add a story or two in the comment box below as I attempt to discover in this series, where my motivations begin and the paths, twist, avoidance and distractions, I've takin in life and this thing we call "Art". 
Hopefully an "Authentically Realized Transcendence"!

Thanks for your time,

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