It's the eyes that make Northwest Indian art carver Gary Baker unique among his peers. Whether his carving subject is an eagle, salmon or killer whale, the animal will often have that distinctive, Baker Northwest Indian art eye. Born in 1963, Gary Mathias Ray Baker is affectionately known as 'Boo Boo' in his Squamish Nation community in North Vancouver, Canada. He said that he would hide behind things when he was a kid and then pop out saying 'Boo Boo' to his relatives.
At age 14, Gary watched his cousin Cody Mathias carve and soon decided that he wanted to learn. He cites Warren Joseph, Ritchie Baker as well as his cousin Cody as his main teachers in Northwest Indian art carving. Today, he often carves 7 days per week but also serves as a fisheries officer at the Capilano River on a seasonal basis. One of the reasons why his Northwest Indian art salmon carvings are so magnificent is perhaps his familiarity with the fish resulting from 18 years working at the river.
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The Baker family tree includes the thunderbird, eagle, killer whale and bear which usually become other subjects of Gary's artwork. Like many Northwest Indian artists, Gary creates his subjects free hand without looking at a picture. He claims that Northwest Indian artists have photographic minds that help them create their subjects from memory.
According to Gary, there's lots of interest among the Squamish Nation youth in the arts. He says they see the money that can be earned from creating and selling their cultural artwork. However, he claims that the kids must take their time to develop. "It took me 10 years to get good," says Gary. "It will take 5 to 10 years for an average beginner to develop." In fact, Gary advises beginners to learn to draw first as a prerequisite before learning to carve.
Gary often gets together with friends to carve as a way of group bonding and motivation. "My buddies inspire me," he claims. Being a community-oriented artist, he also helps out some of the younger carvers with their artwork.
In Gary's opinion, Northwest Indian art has changed over the years. He states, "The newer styles have more shape than the old traditional styles, especially on totem poles." When asked what he would like to see for the future of Northwest Indian art, Gary replied, "I would like our art to be more published around the world."
The Gary Baker Northwest Indian art eyes on his artwork are presently staring out from walls of homes all over North America plus as far away as Japan and Germany. With the increasing interest in Northwest Indian art both domestically and abroad, those distinctive Baker eyes will definitely see much more of the world.
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Gary's artwork is featured in the Northwest Indian Art Carvings video. Northwest Indian artists like Gary Baker and others are producing some stunning artwork these days. Imagine such a piece being displayed in your home. See Northwest Indian art carvings or Northwest Indian art prints at very affordable online prices at Free Spirit Gallery.
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