Richard Baker | Artists’ Chronicles: 2020

Richard Baker’s selection of cookbook covers relates to the acknowledged phenomenon of coronavirus coping by cooking and baking. His exhibition will now be incorporated in the gallery’s upcoming exhibition “Art in the Time of Empathy.”

Richard Baker’s recent series, created exclusively for the Arthur Roger Gallery, is a remarkable collection of gouache paintings of cookbooks. The artist says they are intended “to convey an idea of domesticity and comfort.” Many works in this exhibition are specific to New Orleans – cookbooks such as “River Road Recipes, “The Picayune Original Creole Cook Book” and “Brennan’s New Orleans Cookbook” were painted to celebrate the city’s unique contributions to culinary culture. For the artist, cookbooks are familiar and necessary kitchen tools associated with sociability, comfort, and domesticity. Books have often been subjects in his work along with other commonplace objects. The poet/writer/critic John Yau wrote that Baker’s work sought to transport the viewer to a “heavenly place of your imagination. The keyword is ‘transport’…”

For nearly four decades, he has been painting highly regarded still lifes, recognized for commingling depictions of two-dimensional printed representations with renderings of three-dimensional forms.

Richard Baker entered this world in 1959 in Baltimore, Maryland. He is a graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Baker received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2002 and a New England Foundation for the Arts Grant. His works are in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Newark Museum, NJ, The Contemporary Museum Honolulu, HI, The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum, Sarasota Springs, NY, and the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, MA.