I think the stars aligned on Monday morning as I checked my in-box for new emails. I noticed a reminder that I had missed before from the Colorado chapter of the AIGA. It was an invitation to attend world-famous Artist, Gary Baseman's lecture at the Denver Art Museum. Oh MY, I thought to myself! I hopped over to his Facebook page and noticed that he had posted a note to his fans about the event that night. I added my own comment via my JPD profile about hoping to attend. Soon, the two of us we were chatting about Halloween art, and I realized this was a unique opportunity, not to be missed...... So, JP and I attended and really enjoyed his colorful presentation. Soon, we became more aware of the hidden meanings and lessons he paints through his amusing imagery, and how insightful that was! The next evening we had the opportunity to meet Gary for drinks downtown. Gary, myself and an intimate group of artists shared our thoughts on art, and I enjoyed flipping through Gary's current sketchbook! What a treat! I even brought along a few Halloween kettle cups of mine for him to see, and he said they were "so cool" ! :)
* There's me with Gary, and I'm holding his limited edition "Toby" doll, the keeper of his dirty secrets! Toby often appears in Gary's fine art... And by the way, Toby gets around way more than the garden gnome in the movie Amelie!
Now, let's rewind a wee bit, back ten years or so when I was deep into my corporate TV news-graphics job. I had just won an Emmy Award for my animations. But, despite all the hype and glam that goes along with acquiring my own golden-winged statue, I was feeling creatively deprived. Since I was the station's Art Director, I convinced the higher-ups to pay for an annual membership to the Art Director's Club of Denver, and with that came the unique chance to see Gary Baseman's lecture down town. His whimsical art had intrigued me ever since the day I first spotted his work in Communication Arts Magazine. This guy was painting with no limits, quirky characters and animals with a mischievous innocence that captured my imagination, AND he was making a living at doing it! OH how I yearned to allow my creative spirit to sail. Who knows really why or what inspired me to finally follow my heart, but perhaps Gary's passion and ability to translate his wildly imaginative world onto canvas helped me to step out and express myself through my papier mache and paints. It was just a couple years after I saw that first lecture that I took my own leap of faith. Of course, Gary is certainly more on the wild side with the images and symbolism that he allows to channel through him, but I just love his style. He blurs the line between toy culture and fine art, and his work has a vintage appeal that captures my eye. At first glance there is a sense of innocence and novelty that intrigues me. Upon further inspection however, I often find myself scratching my head and giggling a bit!
This time Gary came to town, that personal urge for me to let my artistic self free had been replaced with a calming sense of gratitude and excitement to be chatting with a fellow creative that has followed his artist passions as well. He has two more Emmys than myself (heheh, oh well! :), he's traveled the world sharing his art and has worked for Disney just to name a few accolades... Fortunately, I can name a few for myself now, and it is so satisfying to reap the rewards of years of hard work and dedication to the craft of being an artist. We are both spreading smiles and laughter through our art, and what a joy that is! In all, it was a pleasure to meet the man behind the "pervasive art" as he calls it, and I want to thank him for inspiring me along the way.
* For those of us that joined Gary for drinks, he gifted each one of us a collectible handkerchief, featuring his latest "Ghost Girl" from his Walking through Walls series. This altered photo comes from his massive vintage collection of people and children wearing costumes and masks. You can see Jack is certainly sniffing it out!
* And clearly, we both have a passion for black cats.....
* And Halloween.....
* And we've all seen this in the board game section of the stores, right?!
To see LOTS more of Gary's work, go to GaryBaseman.com for a visual treat.
Or Google him! He's out there...... :)
All images of Gary's work featured in this post have been used with permission by the artist ~ © Gary Baseman