Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax

{carrie ann baade}

  enter gallery here

There is merit in the living artist and Carrie Ann Baade typifies this virtue. As we all know, the dead masters cannot speak from their grave. They cannot assist in interpretation, clarifying their historical relevance, nor relaying their personal interaction with a certain work.

Fortunately for us, Baade is alive. Because, admittedly, her work is complex. It is rich with symbols and it speaks to traditions of the past. And when somebody is as hyper-intellectual as Baade – you can be certain that she has a wealth of commentary, both in her work and in her life.

Baade is not an erudite, even though she is a professor. She is not pedantic, despite her rich vocabulary, love of creating sniglets (made-up words) and knowledge about the history of art. She is not crazy, but she will admit to having lived a pungent and somewhat extraordinary life.

Working with traditional painting techniques, Baade is a steward of history. At times she employs the works of old masters in her paintings. In this she is interested in creating a meta-narrative of a work, commenting on its original context as well as its contemporary relevance.

For Baade, her picture planes are compact. And this is exactly her aim – to pack her canvases with as much information as is possible. At once hyperbolic and overly-dramatic (placing your head on the body of Christ certainly is just that), Baade has an astute interest in being a storyteller. And with her rich color palate, on her canvases and in her life – the aim is for something extraordinary. The aim is to live a life less than commonplace.

Come the fall of 2007, Baade will be moving to Florida to teach art at the university level. And while she is finally landing the kind of position that she has long desired, it seems that landing on her feet has been a part of her history.

Growing-up in Colorado, it seemed that Baade was destined for an ordinary, possibly rural, life. But this all was not to be. Not for Baade. In second grade she started The Association Of Weird Happenings (TAOWH), in which she queried her peers about their paranormal experiences. Oddly enough, it seemed that there was some credence to her queries. Because once in high school and nearly a third of the population in her school was admitted to a mental hospital.

Then at the age of 15, Baade found painting. Soon after she began seeing auras.

Baade has been all around this world. She has pushed her self to live vibrantly – and if anything reflects this quest, and apparent success, it is her paintings. Because while she utilizes a whole range of subject matters and techniques – you will find Baade always swimming amongst the colors, somewhere in the composition.

Typically she begins by burying her head, not only in books, but in life. She makes collages, physically and abstractly. A near-insomniac, she wakes in the middle of the night and with only a few short strokes, sketches out the visions that came to her.

She is a student of previous artistic traditions and she investigates all of them. Within this she locates a source of inspiration – and her paintings come from that process.

In the end, Baade’s work is highly complicated. Meanings are embedded and the traditions that she pays homage to need explanation. And while a viewer may understand some of the components to a particular work – there is more to glean in conversation with Baade. She is a proponent of a viewer finding their own meaning in any work. But then again, with something so inherently complex as her work – there is virtue in having Baade in-person, and moreover able to talk about her work through metaphors and laymen terms.

For this reason and more we are fortunate to have someone of Baade’s caliber at the university level; teaching. Because she will keep the old traditions of painting and art alive. But moreover, she will teach her students how to be stewards of the human condition and how to talk about and further educate others in this glorious tradition.

If her work is any evidence, Carrie Ann Baade is most certainly alive. Wildy, vibrantly alive.

Keep up with Baade and her transformative work at: www.carrieannbaade.com.