A native of Wisconsin, nationally recognized artist Dean Baer has lived and studied throughout the U.S. and Europe. He defines himself as an Expressionist/Abstract painter, one who prefers to express himself outside the boundaries of the conventional—as seen in this recent self portrait.
A native of Wisconsin, nationally recognized artist Dean Baer has lived and studied throughout the U.S. and Europe. He defines himself as an Expressionist/Abstract painter, one who prefers to express himself outside the boundaries of the conventional—as seen in this recent self portrait.
There are no words to describe the artistic accomplishments of Dean Baer-his artwork loudly speaks for itself.
But if words could be found, they might just be "emotion" and "truth."
In 1982, Dean's world was a blank canvas, but a life including art in some way was obvious. He journeyed to The Colorado Institute of Art in Denver, Colo. and studied advertising and design, basic color principles and perspective after graduating from Kiel High School. His upbringing inspired his rich color wheel of life conceptualized in the most unique way. His studio now resides in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Many of his life experiences including his great sense of patriotism are often seen communicated in his artwork. The most recent example of this he titled "Freedom of Expression," now on display at The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Va. and "Side by Side," an image reflecting the bond of two great allies, the United States of America and Great Britain, commissioned by Azalea Charities and unveiled at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.
In the private sector, the most recent was a piece selected by Capital Grille Restaurant, "At Peace," the image used as a wine label to promote their inaugural wine Artists Wine Series, a fine and delicious Cabernet Sauvignon of limited production that contributed greatly to the success of the promotion nationwide. However, above and beyond whatever artistic accomplishments he has achieved, he is most proud of his son Matthew, who is in his third year of college at Radford University in Virginia.

Drawing problem to find solution
As with the creation of a painting, the composition of his early adult life can be reflected in many hues. "I had a very difficult time in high school and kept a learning disability to myself, one of transposing numbers, difficulty reading and concentrating," now commonly referred to as Dyslexia. "The only tool I knew to use was visual-the visual world made sense to me. If I drew a picture of the problem I was asked to solve, I would understand it immediately" he added.
As a result, he excelled in drawing, sculpture and architectural drawing classes. "Jerry Bella, my architectural drawing instructor, was a very positive influence. He provided encouragement and guidance that helped to give me the confidence to finally decide what I was going to do after high school," Dean said. He also credits his wrestling coach, Trent Agnew, for inspiration and teaching him not to quit.
As he grew into adulthood, Dean overcame his learning impediments and graduated magna cum laude with a 3.93 grade point average from University of Maryland in 1991. "My parents Janet and Donald, taught me values, hard work and encouraged me to go after what I wanted in life, which is exactly what I have done. They deserve most of the credit in helping to build a strong work ethic to build upon."
Dean started out painting the great wildlife and landscapes unique to Wisconsin where he spent a great deal of time outdoors camping, hunting and fishing. Originally from the rural setting of St. Nazianz, at the age of 8 he and his family moved to the City of Kiel. Once he migrated from Wisconsin and started experiencing larger cities with heavily populated areas, the subject matter of his artwork became more involved, given the complexity of his environment and the diversity that can only be found in large cities. "I find it much more challenging to depict human emotion and behavior, neither of which are found in the world of realism, since neither are physical attributes, as with a tree, a mountain, or lake," Dean said.

Uncle Tony an inspiration
"When I was a child, my uncle Tony Baldini and my Aunt Marilyn gave my parents a Picasso print of a Blue Lady. This was my first glimpse at modern art," Dean said. His Uncle Tony was an accomplished illustrator and fine artist who passed away in October 2008. Seeing this image as a child intermixed with the more traditional prints and paintings on his walls opened his eyes to a freer use of color and space.
He always looked forward with anticipation for visits to Milwaukee to see his Uncle Tony. Dean remains in awe of the mastery of his work, remarking, "Many more 'Masters' go unknown in life than known." To this day he remains in awe of the fine skill and execution demonstrated in the talent of his late Uncle Tony-another artist who he hastens to add was not afraid to paint what he felt. Uncle Tony was yet another source of great inspiration.
As an Expressionistic painter, he seldom knows what he is about to create, rather, letting the emotional side of his brain create and draw from a life experience and allowing free thought to direct both paint and brush. The only exception to this rule is when he is commissioned to create a work of art, an instance where a person expresses a feeling or event that they wish conveyed on canvas through his "eyes." Dean's latest commission titled "Never Apart" was created for a British general and his wife who asked him to depict the close bond they have even though their marriage has endured many times apart because of military assignments.
When pressed to define his style, Dean calls it "individualism." Dean is a realist and understands that his work might only appeal to 10 percent of the population given its abstract, off-beat color and form, but this is not why he paints. He agrees that a good piece of artwork should make a person feel something-good or bad. Art is a language, much the same as music, something that touches the core of a person. On a lighter note, Dean said, "If I heard my work was 'nice' or 'that it would match my couch,' or worse yet, 'that's a nice frame,' then maybe I might consider another profession."
Creating is what Dean is driven to do. Although he has accomplished some level of success in the corporate sector as a project manager for both national and international companies, he often felt somewhat displaced at times when there was little creative work to do, or problems to solve. Getting a business degree has definitely helped him with the business side of art, and has helped him weather many "droughts" over the years. The internet has been a powerful tool in marketing his artwork on a global level, but as he often states, "It is nothing like seeing the original, up close and personal."

Models of emotion
When asked why women are often depicted in his artwork, he answers, "Women end up being themes in a lot of my work because I believe they depict emotion and are much better models of emotion," he said. "I can paint realism, but I choose and prefer to depict the human condition in an abstract way. It can actually be an almost spiritual experience for me at times. I want the viewer to relate to the image by being able to place themselves in a piece, to participate I guess you could say," he said. Being a self-taught painter, he believes this is what gave him his own style of expression that many artists strive their entire lives to reach.
He used to give most of his work away until about 1994, when he sold a painting in Miami for $700. That was when he started to seriously consider trying to make a living as an artist, which led to the release of his "Flight of the Dancer" print donated to benefit the Batten Disease research, Gilda Radner's Gilda Club & the Caitlin Merie Hurry Fund (MENC). Dean might not have the financial means to contribute to causes that he believes in, but fortunately found a creative way to do this by contributing artwork to charitable organizations and worthy causes.
Other philanthropic donations of his paintings used to support charities include "Cherry Blossom" in support of ARCS Foundation, "Disbelief" in support of Morgan Freeman auction to benefit Hurricane Katrina victims via Red Cross Relief Fund, "Leap of Faith" to benefit Knock out Abuse against Women and "Bright Future" to benefit the Corporate Alliance for Drug Education CADE, to name a few.
Dean has contributed his work to help raise money for several charities over the years. His artwork has been auctioned and used as a product and solution to generate revenue for numerous non-profit organizations over the past 10 years.
Dean learned the value of philanthropy from his Grandma Irene (Beumler) whom he remembers as a devout Catholic who never missed church and lived her life accordingly. She always stressed the importance of helping others and to appreciate everyday as a gift. For Dean, her generosity was not one of material things, but more about passing on wisdom, her time, and life's basic needs. "I remember as a child trying to pick an apple from a tree, and Grandma stopped me and had me pick the ones from the ground first even though they were bruised, she said we could make apple sauce vs. wasting them," Dean said. He continues to honor her memory with his art and simple human connect to Earth and substance. One only need visit his Web site to see all that he has contributed to numerous charities as an artist.
Although mainly known for his paintings, Dean also sculpts. He likes working with metals and clay to provide a more physical outlet for his imagery. As with painting, the creation for Dean is mental. He hopes for his studio to one day house the larger works of stone and metal sculptures forming in his mind. "I love creating and always have so I create because I am driven to. I do not think about making money when I paint something, so it is very rewarding personally when I do make something that serves a greater cause as well as provides income for me to keep doing what I am passionate about," Dean said.
Dean usually makes it back to Wisconsin for an annual visit with family and friends. "All of my success that I will ever have in this life can be found in the people and places of my childhood, which can be summed up into one word-Wisconsin."
To find out more about this artist visit www.deanjbaer.com or follow him on Facebook.