Art and the City

Artist Profile: Cedric Baker


The figurative work of Cedric Baker is born of the meditative spirituality that flows from the soul of the artist. It is an autobiographical narrative—“storytelling through social and racial entities”—an exposition of authenticity.

His abstracts have a time-coded quality. Blocks of serenity are wedged apart by an intrusion of energy: a commotion of color and movement. They pull you into a timeless conflict of balance and counterbalance, and, finally, a resolution of animated energy with calm determination.

In both series of works, Cedric Baker says, “It’s the internal emotion and meditative spirituality that’s important, not the noise of the external reality of the object or the figure.”

Dragnet, oil on canvas, by Cedric Baker

Cedric was born in North Carolina and after his family moved to New York City he grew up between the two worlds. He joined the Air Force and was able to use the GI Bill to study painting, drawing and printmaking at Sacramento City College.

Cedric transferred to the Pratt Institute in New York, where, in the 80s, he drove a taxi and became consumed by the downtown arts and club scene that produced graffiti and hip-hop, and a new wave of painters like Basquiat, Keith Haring, and his mentor, Romare Bearden. Eventually, the club scene became “too much” and he moved back to North Carolina, and finally DC.

He worked at National Gallery of Art for a decade before deciding to concentrate on being a full time artist. He has had a studio in Brookland for five years.

Cedric Baker believes that in art there can be no limits and he will continue to balance his work between abstraction and realism, and use the history of painting and art “to help me tell the stories that are sometimes autobiographical.”

You can see the art of Cedric Baker this month at the Hill Center. (See: At the Galleries.)

El Chichon Sunset by Tom Graham. Corner Store Recepti on, Dec. 8, 5-7 p.m., 900 S. Carolina SE

Jim Magner’s Thoughts on Art
Cedric Baker, (See: Artist Profile) describes his life as an artist in New York, making the club scene, and trying to gain entre to the powerful gallery owners who could make or break any artist. He spent those years driving a cab. Maybe half the cabbies in New York in the 80s were artists, and other half, actors. Actresses-in-waiting tended to wait tables.

They all discovered that were a lot more artists in the world than “art stars.” Many times more. This had nothing to do with talent or skill levels. In fact, there was, and still is, an inverse relationship between talent and fame. The kings and queens of the galleries. and their super rich collectors, knighted a few “discoveries” to ratchet up values and make lots of money. You don’t do that in a mass market—there has to be a limited number of investment opportunities.

The essential third parties in these deals were the major auction houses, where values, once established on the books, always go up.

Cedric, like so many serious artists, finally tired of the whole phony scene and left.

It hasn’t changed much. If anything, the “art market” has even less to do with art—art with traditional value. The collectors now seem to be primarily Silicone Valley billionaires who buy certain names and brands like any other prestige merchandise. A million here or a million there…no big deal.

So, here we are in December, 2018, Christmas, where you can buy wonderful art, true art, from wonderful artists, for very small amounts of money. You can give something of value. By doing this, you give true value to art, and true value to artists.

At the Galleries
Tom Grahame: Wilderness Photos
Corner Store Arts
900 South Carolina Ave. SE
Dec 8 – Dec 22
Opening: Dec 8, 5-7:30
These are extraordinary photographs, and an incredible tribute to the beauty of the natural world. “Wilderness Light and Life: Canadian Lakes and Alaska” has you soaring, visually and emotionally.
Tom Grahame, long time Capitol Hill resident, has taken thousands of photos over 50 years of hiking, canoeing, and rafting around the world—Bhutan, Nepal, the Alps, Guatemala, Mexico and other exotic [places] on hiking and birding trips. These 24 photos are from a 1983 canoe trip in Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park, and from many summer trips to different parts of Alaska.
Be sure to make the opening and let Tom describe the times, places and feelings he had in each setting, as only he can. The photos will be available for purchase framed, or unframed, in three sizes.

Hill Center
921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
— Jan. 7
The Hill Center’s six-artist exhibit will continue through the holidays, to January 7. This show and others throughout the region present the terrific opportunity to find great art for gifts…or to keep.

Patsy Fleming: The Eleventh Woman
Foundry Gallery
2118 8th St. NW 
Dec. 5-30                      
Opening: Sat. Dec 8, 5-8
The figures float in a color-field, adrift between an individual and a dream image, but alive in the reality of your mind. And who is the eleventh woman?  “She’s the ideal, the unrealizable, both other and self, who lives only in our imagination.”

Adult Student Art Show
The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop,
545 7th St. SE
Dec 8- 19
Opening: Sat. Dec 8, 5-7
This is the annual art exhibit for CHAW’s adult students. The artists will be at the opening to discuss their work. The event will also feature a performance by A Second Wind Choir.