Art Highlight Magazine | Laguna Beach | Palm Springs

Blake Baxter

Staring into the Void

Blake Baxter Talks

written by Grove Koger


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Blake Baxter’s January solo shows at Joshua Tree Art Gallery and D’Amour Concept present a series of monochromatic, sand-based paintings in which black is the only paint color. All the other hues you see as you stand before his mesmerizing works are inherent in the primary media—various forms of prepared sand. Look more closely and you’ll realize that the paintings’ surfaces register gentle changes, most of them created by the available light.
Baxter tells Art Patron that he spends about 90 percent of his time in preparation. “When creating works, I follow a series of sequenced steps, layering polymer, sand and acrylic washes, during short intervals of only a few minutes or less. I stop well before the materials begin to set up or dry, and allow each layer to completely cure before applying the next. So I spend considerable time preparing the work space, tools, surface and materials. Once a step is completed, the work space may be changed again. This requires a patient mindset, calm and free of distractions.”


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The means Baxter deploys in creating his paintings—“color, geometry, texture, reflectivity, size”—are as minimal as his materials. “I have a good idea of what I am trying to create with any individual piece, making studies and drawings beforehand. However, each work yields some type of lesson or unanticipated effect that will inform subsequent action, such that the body of work as a whole moves in directions I do not anticipate and only partially control. The finished pieces are a record of these processes.”
Baxter hopes to engage his viewers in a kind of transcendent experience. “Afforded sufficient time,” he explains, his paintings “become machines that generate focal awareness, allowing one the opportunity to explore the complex relationship between transient modes of existence (form) and the inevitable manifestation of nothingness (void).
“These are exercises in the interpretative power of consciousness,” the artist continues, “providing viewers a pathway towards separation from the mundane through a mediated process of observation.”
Baxter was born in Los Angeles and earned a BA in Fine Art from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He was an exhibiting member of the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition and has shown widely, from Oakland to New York City and from Chicago to Los Angeles. Over the past decade, he has established a reputation for his large-scale paintings incorporating aggregates such as sand, coal slag, and diatomaceous earth. Baxter now makes his home in Joshua Tree, and participated in last year’s Hwy 62 Art Tour. To learn more about him, visit Upcoming exhibitions include:

Blake Baxter: Form and Void
Jan. 13-Feb. 3, 2018
Opening Jan. 13, 6-8pm
Joshua Tree Art Gallery
61607 29 Palms Hwy., Joshua Tree 92252

Grand Opening with Blake Baxter
Jan. 20, 6-9pm
D’Amour Concept
683 Sunny Dunes Rd., Palm Springs 92262