Kevin Baker was born and raised in Central City, Kentucky, a coal mining community in western Kentucky. Creating art, 12 years studying classical violin, and a constant obsession with hunting and growing native plants were his main inspirations.
Kevin Baker was born and raised in Central City, Kentucky, a coal mining community in western Kentucky. Creating art, 12 years studying classical violin, and a constant obsession with hunting and growing native plants were his main inspirations. His mother was a floral painter and stained glass artist who would often paint on top of floral wallpaper on the walls of their home. The home was decorated in pastel floral motifs, natural woods, and sparkling stained glass windows. Everything was handmade by his mother, and there is no doubt she was a great influence on his creativity.
Now living and working in New York City, Kevin is still obsessed with the beauty of flowers, and finds that he has been largely influenced by kitsch and decorative arts. “My grandmother used oilcloth on everything. Shiny floral patterns and plaids covered outdoor furniture, and could be wiped clean with Windex. It was an inexpensive and water resistant material and in a way had become a substitute for leather.” Inexpensive or low-brow materials interest Kevin because they are seen as stylish in certain regions, yet in a large city such as New York they are tacky. Kevin’s recent floral obsession is transforming oilcloth into something more elegant and universally desirable.
In Kevin’s paintings, floral oilcloths are transformed into playful environments full of air and movement. Each flower or plant life he has recreated comes alive and floats in a foggy organic atmosphere where little gravity exists. It is as if the world was flooded, or that you are viewing the bottom of the deepest waters where only your imagination can venture. You can see flower particles that have remained visible from the original oilcloth pattern, but he transforms them with many small dots. These dots are bead like and make the flowers seem as if they are floating in water, caught in currents, and drifting by in swirling gusts along the slick surface. Often the flowers become jellyfish, corals, or sea anemones, and dance with one another to the smooth sounds of airy music. The transformations Kevin has made to the surface are often surprising and have an uplifting visual effect. Through glazing and layers of drawing and painting, it is often difficult to see how the oilcloth existed before it was painted. The edges of the canvas remain untouched giving the viewer an idea of the painting’s history.
There is certainly an air of happiness and celebration in Kevin’s paintings. He would like his viewers to escape and imagine existing in another world. From his travels around the world, he finds much of his inspiration. He says the deep colorful lakes and open air in Italy have been a great source for color and plant life found in his paintings.
2004 – MFA, Miami University, Oxford, OH
2001 – BFA, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY
“Fiori in Acqua”, Baldwin Gallery, Aspen
Splashlight Studios, NYC