If you went to last month’s Gallery Hop in the Short North, you may have stopped in the Sean Christopher Gallery and viewed artist Ginnie Baer’s farewell show. After calling Columbus home for years, Baer is moving to Wisconsin this fall, where she has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Art at a small University of Wisconsin campus.
I recently spoke to her about her farewell show, what influences her as an artist, and what she will miss most about Columbus.
Q: Please share with us a bit about your personal, artistic and professional background.
A: I grew up in a rural area outside of Lima, Ohio. My parents were older when I was born and while their age was a bit perplexing for most of my friends, it was really pretty great from my perspective. They were around most of the time and they had already raised three daughters who had children of their own by the time I was born, so they were relatively easy going about most things. I grew up climbing trees and running through barns and fields.
Looking back, it was idyllic in many ways. My parents had both passed away by the time I was 22, so that left me with a sense of nostalgia for them as well as where and how I grew up. It all absolutely influences my artwork.
I have a BFA in Painting and Drawing from OSU and a MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. I’ve been teaching part time at OSU, Columbus State, Denison and CCAD. I’m starting a position as Assistant Professor of Art at a small University of Wisconsin campus in the fall, which is why I am leaving Ohio.
Q: What is your artistic process?
A: I typically use water based paints (acrylic, watercolor, gouache) with ink, glitter and lots of water. The surface/supports are either wood panels or synthetic papers like Yupo. The first few stages of a painting are very unpredictable and tricky to control. I use large quantities of water with the materials, allowing the paint to flow, drip and stain. I build the paintings up in layers, allowing the previous work to dry before more materials are added.
Some paintings are quick, completed in one or two sessions. Others I may work on for a month or more… each subsequent layer is usually more refined than the previous. I’ll make deliberate marks with the brushes, draw with watercolor pencil. I use glitter as another pigment. It creates a great texture and I”ll admit I am a sucker for it’s obvious sparkle and shine.
Q: What inspires you?
A: Everywhere really, but this recent work is inspired from a few specific sources. Mainly, the natural world and landscape painting. (Turner, Whistler, Doig) I am curious about negative ions, which are plentiful in natural settings, especially where there is moving water, and try to imbue the paintings with a sense of these serotonin releasing particles. I love camping and being outdoors in general. With a few exceptions, most of my recent paintings are landscape based, albeit quite loosely.
Q: Do you have any advice for Columbus artists, whether they are just starting out or have been involved in the local arts community for awhile? How did belonging to Couchfire Collective and Ohio Art League help with your art and career?
A: I’m reluctant to give advice, I think my fellow Columbus artists know what they’re doing! My sense is that we are all consistently learning from one another.
Couchfire helped me to get a broader perspective of the local art scene. I had mostly been involved with local/national artists from the academic world (which I love) but being a part of Couchfire introduced me to a whole host of artists, performers and musicians that I may not have been aware of otherwise, especially through events like Agora and Independents’ Day.
I am not always great at promoting myself and my work and being part of Couchfire has helped with that too. When I meet someone new, they often already know something about me because of Couchfire. I feel I now have a much better understanding of what it takes to organize an art event, whether it’s a small exhibition or large event, the logistics that go into it are something we gained lots of experience with.
The Ohio Art League and Roy G. Biv have both been great resources for me over the years. I think one of the first shows I was ever in just after undergrad was an OAL juried show at the Columbus Museum. Both organizations are incredibly supportive to artists while also encouraging a bit of healthy competition amongst local/regional artists.
Q: What are your favorite things about living here and what will you miss most about Columbus?
A: I’ll miss teaching at OSU and Columbus State, my students and colleagues/friends…just the whole art department at OSU, especially the painting/drawing faculty, I have loved working with them! I’ll miss working in my studio at Junctionview and the artists there… it’s been such a big part of my life the past few years.
Mostly I will miss my friends. I plan on visiting Columbus quite a bit since my family lives nearby and I have friends here that I have known for 15 plus years. (my other family) I am in a few shows here next year too, so I’ll be back for those and I’m sure by then I’ll have a whole list of restaurants and places to visit. (Akai Hana will certainly be on that list.) I don’t think it’s really hit me yet that I won’t actually be living here anymore. My door in Wisconsin will be open, come visit!!!
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your farewell show at Sean Christopher Gallery?
A: The show consists of about sixteen paintings and works on paper. They were all created within the past year. The works relate to the ideas I mentioned above; they all feel like little worlds to me, places that are at once tangible yet completely imagined. Many of the titles, such as “Cavern Path Party” or “Sea Pines Resort” reinforce that notion and hopefully evoke further a place that could exist or has in the past. I feel happy and lucky to have this solo show just before leaving Columbus, it is quite a lovely goodbye.
Images provided by Ginnie Baer. The featured artwork are all on Yupo or vellum and are 26″ x 20″ range with the exception of “And so it goes” which is on wood panel and is 40″ x 30″. To see more, visit ginniebaer.com.
To find out more about Coachfire Collective, visit their website.
To find out more about the Ohio Art League, visit their website.
The Sean Christopher Gallery is located at 815 North High Street, Suites H & N, Columbus, OH 43215. Their hours are Wednesday through Friday: 3:30pm-5:30pm and Saturday: 1:30pm-3:30pm. Ginnie Baer’s show will be on exhibit through Saturday, August 4, 2012. Visit the Sean Christopher Gallery on Facebook to find out more.