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Baker retrospective opens art gallery for fall

A 41-piece retrospective of David Baker’s 36-year career teaching art at Southwestern Michigan College fills the gallery in the Dale A. Lyons Building on the Dowagiac campus until Sept. 28. A public reception for “An Intimate Dialogue with Myself” takes place at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20.

The title refers to “the challenge of bringing my full focus to the task of art-making as I wrestle with matters aesthetic, personal and spiritual,” Baker said. “Much of my work deals with these preoccupations — at least on some level.”

The 41 pieces date to 1981-82, Baker’s first year at SMC.

“I haven’t included every year,” he said, “but selected work from many of the major themes I’ve explored along the way.”

Works encompass a range of different media, among them oil, watercolor, wax crayon, charcoal, carved wood, video and hand-made books.

“It is very interesting to curate one’s own retrospective exhibit,” said Baker. “I pulled out pieces that I had, quite literally, not looked at in decades.

“While I might paint some of them differently now,” Baker said, “they all feel pretty honest. There was also satisfaction in seeing how much I had been able to produce, given that I held a fulltime teaching position for most of that time.”
In addition to the exhibit’s retrospective component, Baker has a group of nine drawings and paintings all done or finished this year because “I wanted to show some current work.”

Baker earned his bachelor’s degree in art education from Western Michigan University and a master’s degree in fine art in painting from Indiana State University.

He taught eight years of public school in Michigan and Indiana before coming to SMC and continues to teach workshops at Ox-Bow School of Art in Saugatuck and Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph, where the former Dowagiac resident lives.

He served on Dowagiac’s Dogwood Fine Arts Festival Visual Arts Committee.

SMC’s rock-climbing room in the Student Activity Center features a Zion Canyon mural printed from Baker’s original oil painting.

He has gallery representation at Center Street Emporium in South Haven and Rising Phoenix Gallery in Michigan City, Ind.

His art can be viewed on his web site at or on Facebook at David Baker-Painter.