Saturday, July 24, 2004

Dennis Baker


Artist in residence: Dennis C. Baker

By Jackie Demaline
Enquirer staff writer


City of sculpture
Artist in residence: Dennis C. Baker
By the numbers
Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park
Map of sculptures

If you’re looking for Dennis Baker on weekends, start at Hamilton Scrap Processors. Baker lives in Montgomery but, as official City of Sculpture artist-in-residence for four years, his favorite weekend pastime is discovering metal “found objects” for large and small sculptures.

By day Baker, 49 is in the operating room, where he helps install cardiac pacemakers as a consultant for medical supply company Medtronics.

On weekends he dons his hardhat and steel-toed shoes and creates dreams from odd pieces of scrap by welding them into art. Hamilton, he says, “is my adopted city.”

He became the program’s unpaid artist-in-residence “almost by accident,” and access to the Scrap Processors yard and tools – including a crane – has changed his life and his art.

He lives within commuting distance and has free access to material, equipment and a 30-foot-by-30 foot warehouse studio space, costing City of Sculpture nothing.

City of Sculpture commissioned him to create a 20-foot stainless steel abstract, “Star Formation” which was installed on Monument Avenue across from the Fitton Center for Creative Arts two years ago.

Baker contributes work for sale and auction to benefit the program, and now dreams not just of making art, but of an artist colony in Hamilton.

He can’t wait to share his warehouse space. “I foresee artists working with children throughout Butler County,” he says. “Teaching sculpture in schools.” That dream is closing in on reality. Hamilton High School instituted classes in three-dimensional art two years ago.

“Identifying kids who have a talent in welding. My hope in years to come is to help produce a sculptor who will achieve national acclaim.”

He looks confidently to a fast-track future, his own and City of Sculpture’s. “We’re nowhere near where we’re going to be in three or four years.”

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