We are very pleased to showcase the bookcovers portraits of Richard Baker, an old and dear friend of the store. These works capture his tender passion for old books, a love that exceeds any given title's content and regards it as a sign on life's path, as a delicate mnemonic object. These are the words Richard uses to describe his interest:
For twenty years or so I have been committed to the painting of still life. I say 'still life' purely as a descriptive term — the associations conjured by its use seem limited and confining for my purposes. Many of my works from the previous ten years have commingled depictions of two-dimensional representations with diverse 'rendering' of three-dimensional forms — into these hybrid conglomerations I introduced images of books in 2004.
Books have always been important to me—from the first set of World Book Encyclopedia in my childhood home, through my first jobs in bookstores, to my readings in college and beyond. They always contained promise, optimism, and desire. They empower, ennoble, entertain. As physical objects they are powerful fetishes, icons, containers of every conceivable thought and/or emotion. We cart them from home to work on our commutes and they accompany us on vacations. We move them carefully packed in boxes from one domicile to another, from one phase of life to another.
They come to stand for various episodes of our lives, for certain idealisms, follies of belief, moments of love," Baker writes. "Along the way they accumulate our marks, our stains, our innocent abuses—they come to wear our experience of them on their covers and bindings like wrinkles on our own skin. As our personalities are changed (or not) by them, so too do they absorb impressions of our lives. Each book becomes its own unique individual, most especially true of the lowly paperback.
Which books to paint then? I began to think about books that had been important and life-changing for me, but which I now felt I could no longer return to—books that held great meaning for me as a youth but lacked the same impact upon rereading. I wanted to move to Paris after reading Henry Miller; Celine spoke directly to my most disaffected adolescent angers and frustrations, Hamsun mirrored my own tender love of romance (and love of love) and the consuming power of infatuation; I identified with the pointed absurdity of Jarry’s “Ubu Roi” and wished to be a playwright; Camus revealed the oppressiveness of organized societal hierarchies, totally encompassing my own age-appropriate defiance of authority. The list went on and on.
As my involvement with this act of 'portraiture' has continued," Baker writes, "the reasons for choosing which titles and editions have evolved and become more various, though it remains of paramount importance that they be familiar and of no special pedigree. In the end, these paintings stand against loss and for reverie, memory, optimism, desire, and love
To read Richard Baker's interview with John Yau go to:
Jen Ferguson is a long time Dumbo resident. Her focus is on epic & monumental oils, both architectural and figurative. She also is known for small delicate drawings and watercolors. Her art typically evokes both whimsy and disquiet.
Brooklyn and other pared-down landscapes- interpreted in a mysterious glowing chiaroscuro- are the resonant backdrop for a recurring cast of folkloric and ghoulish characters and creatures. In contrast her architectural paintings are massive and loose renditions of symbolic structures; dripping evocative statements about decay and constant change.
For our showcase Jen chose samples of both of these aspects: two elephants roaming wild between the bridges - a humoristic wink at the neighborhood's name, and two sombre architectural rendtions of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges