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Julie Baker Fine Art means business

by Laurien Dusharme
Special to The Union

“Finding Julie Baker in the art world was like finding an oasis in the desert.”

– artist Don Fritz

When she opened her contemporary art gallery more than three years ago in downtown Grass Valley, Julie Baker had a mission: To create a space that was sophisticated and inviting and that featured dynamic emerging artists. She wanted her space to be a place where this art-appreciating community could see and buy artwork not usually encountered in the foothills. And she wanted to help build the careers of artists while helping collectors identify value. Baker says she has met her goal, and then some.



The new show she is presenting is a good example of this. “A New View” brings together the work of eight contemporary artists from four states, who are unified by their singular perspectives of land, nature, space and how we inhabit places. Landscape is the point of entry – from literal to symbolic, cultural to meditative, micro undergrowth to the macro urban sprawl. The media used range from resin to paper to photographs on aluminum, as well as oil on canvas and panel, and the artists are accomplished enough to have their work in juried and museum shows.

While this exhibit does not feature Nevada County artists, the gallery loves showing the work of locals like Matt Duffin, Erin Noel and Kurt Steger, and they seem to appreciate her in return. Says Steger, a native California artist, in an e-mail, “Julie is a true professional in her field. She encourages me, as an artist, to develop my pure artistic expression and not to tempt me toward what she feels will fit the market. She helps keep my career moving forward by presenting my work to the public, collectors and various art venues, (allowing) me to stay focused in the studio … She brings a relaxed, open attitude to a field that can often be stuffy and pretentious, and I feel fortunate we have created a partnership in business and friendship.”




Nellie King Solomon, an artist from San Francisco, also has words of praise. “She’s not only forwarded my career enormously, she’s nice. That’s almost edgy in the art world.”

Looking out for the market here has been expanded by the recent showings of paintings by Tyler Micoleau, whose estate is represented by the gallery. The future includes periodic historical shows that are based on the popularity of Micoleau’s plein-aire paintings.

Baker grew up in the art world in New York City, her family having a marketing company that promoted artists and galleries. As a result of professional experiences working at fine art galleries and at the famous Christie’s, she developed confidence in her choices. And, it seems, she’s been hitting the mark. Not only does Baker present a half dozen new shows per year in the gallery, she also exhibits at up to five art fairs across the country every year, a smart move as the fairs are a juried selection of art galleries that provide tremendous exposure and contacts and allow her to keep abreast of the art market.

“There are thousands of artists out there, says Baker. “My job is to find that needle in the haystack, that person whose work makes you sit up … my responsibility to the artist is to build their careers through shows in museums and galleries, art fairs, press, finding good collectors for their work, and advising them.”

With her nose for making art a profitable business, Baker’s new course, called “The Business of Art” and offered this fall at her gallery, should be helpful to artists and collectors alike.

Pam Jung contributed to this article

What: “A New View” — a new art exhibit through June 18

When: Friday, 6-8 p.m., artists’ reception

Where: Julie Baker Fine Art, 120 N. Auburn St., Ste. 100, Grass Valley

Admission: Free

Information: http://www.juliebakerfineart.com or 273-0910. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment.


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