Richard Baker’s newest exhibit is “Tonality” and scheduled to be shown at Los Angeles’ hip art depot, Bergamot Station in the LA/Santa Monica divide. His painting style is recognizable and sophisticated, focusing on form and color through the use of light, shadow and geometry.
Interestingly, Baker has a successful career in the entertainment industry as a manager and producer. Along with managing such comedic talents as Tim Allen and Drew Carey, he is currently an Executive Producer on ABC’s hit sitcom “Last Man Standing.”
Other previous credits include Baker as the Executive Producer of “The Drew Carey Show,” and “The Santa Clause” movie trilogy.
But his art is drawing attention away from his small screen work as his paintings are stark and complex, vivid yet subtle in their composition, as Baker captures the sun-drenched activities of desert life by sculpting the effects of light on his subjects through heavy, pigment-rich brushstrokes.
Although best known for his career in Hollywood, Baker has been able to find time in the past few years to finally pursue his lifelong passion for painting. Baker masterfully captures the feeling of the coastal desert of California as his paintings explore the subjects of realism and material abstraction, maintaining the balance of figural representation and the joy of capturing a moment in the medium of painting.
Richard Baker’s art education began at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied painting under renowned realist painter, Rackstraw Downes.
The opening reception for Richard Baker’s gallery exhibit “Tonality” will take place on Saturday, October 24th from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. at Skidmore Contemporary Art at Bergamot Station (2525 Michigan Avenue, B-4, Santa Monica, California 90404). The exhibit runs from Saturday, October 17 through Saturday, November 21.
His subject matter is fresh and uplifting, reflecting his personal lifestyle and interests, and often depicts outdoor leisure activities in California. By focusing on these motifs, Baker distinguishes himself within the representational genre as well as creates art that is relatable to his collectors who often share similar interests and passions.
Monsters and Critics had a moment with Baker to talk about his arresting art:
Monsters and Critics: You are a showrunner yet your art seems to shout “I’m really a DP!” Of all the great cinematographers, whose lensing and eye replicates your own artistic ethos of figurative art?
Richard Baker: By the way, I did do some video camera work and lighting early in my career and have been an avid snapshot photographer my whole life. I don’t know if the director, DP, or the production designer are most responsible, but I loved the photography in the recent movie “Grand Budapest Hotel”…
M&C: When did your artistic training begin?
RB: I studied fine arts and art history when I was a student at the University of Pennsylvania. I took three painting classes with a great teacher named Rackstraw Downes who went on to become a very successful artist.
M&C: Do any of your entertainment clients collect your art?
RB: It’s still rather early for me in my art career, but so far my client Tim Allen commissioned me to do a portrait of his daughter and he seems very pleased with it.
M&C: Are you drawn to the west and coastal desert of California more that say a classic Berkshires setting or verdant east coast terroir?
RB: I work from photos I take in my day to day life of things that catch my eye and it just so happens I live in Southern California so a lot of the motifs are set there. However, three of the paintings in my current show at Santa Monica’s Skidmore Gallery are set in the Hamptons. I’m sure I’d be happy painting the Berkshires and verdant east coast terroir if I experienced them and took photos of things that inspire me there.
M&C: In architecture, do you tend to favor the mid-century kings like Saarinen, Neutra or Lloyd Wright?
RB: I live in LA in a mid-century modern house and my dining table was designed by Saarinen. But when it comes to painting, I don’t play favorites and just respond to the lighting and color. In my current show, I have three paintings of diverse architectural styles: the modern Frey House 2, a simple church, and a Craftsman house.
M&C: A style of art you do not care for is….
RB: I am not a fan of conceptual art. I prefer art that’s a sensory experience and not an intellectual one. I describe my paintings as ‘art that needs no explanation.’
M&C: Biggest mistake an art collector makes is…
RB: Not buying my paintings! I’m kidding! To me, there are two kinds of art collecting: collecting things you love and enjoy living with versus buying art as a financial investment. Of course, sometimes there is an overlap. I don’t know how you can make a mistake buying an artwork you really enjoy.
M&C: Have you ever sold a painting then had a last minute change of heart?
RB: I love all of my paintings and don’t like parting with any of them. If I could, I’d get rid of all of the paintings I have collected over the years and just decorate my homes with my own paintings, but that wouldn’t be very good for my potential art career. I just hope my paintings find good homes with loving parents.