Thursday, October 28, 2010


'Sparrows' has been selected for the cover of a book by Montreal's author Gilles Archambault. This is his 30th novel. He had a radio show for over 30 years on jazz on Radio-Canada. He is appreciated for his moody writing that is also very soft and touching, much like a resonant jazz melody.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Vancouver Courier, August 4th 2010

Whippet good for atmospheric painter

Artist's new series of landscapes based on grounds of Riverview psychiatric hospital


Painter and former Nanaimoite Sheri Bakes relaxes with a couple of her harshest, tuckered out critics.
Photograph by: Dan Toulgoet, Vancouver Courier

Like this writer, Sheri Bakes grew up on the mean streets of Nanaimo. Thunderbird Drive to be exact. We attended the same elementary, played in the same school band and occasionally practised our instruments--her on trumpet, me on saxophone--at different ends of our street, performing a squawky call-and-response routine that was neither romantic nor enjoyable for the neighbours who lived between us. Bakes now lives in Vancouver where she raises weird-looking dogs, creates colourful, hard-to-describe paintings that can be seen at the Bau-Xi Gallery (3045 Granville St.) from Aug. 7 to 21, and answers probing questions via her iPhone from former classmates who've also left Nanaimo to achieve dizzying heights of greatness.

1. In the briefest, least artist-speak way possible, could you describe your upcoming art show, In Lieu of Flowers?

A number of landscapes (oil on canvas) plus three small installations based on the grounds at Riverview Psychiatric Hospital and adjacent Colony Farm.

2. Conversely, in the most pretentious, artist-speak way possible, could you describe your upcoming show?

Several loosely rendered, brooding, wind swept, dare I say "Turner longing" landscapes strategically hung and juxtaposed in white space to look down upon three small installations (or force amplifiers), which question the psychological kinetic energy of mechanical work inside the mind of the paintings and the paintings inside the mind. Ha ha.

3. Would it be accurate to describe what you do as landscape painting?

Yes and no. Yes, the work is geographically based on a specific, pre-selected location, and rendered with those physical coordinates in mind. But no because they are more about atmosphere in motion... I think my work is thought of by some as "decorative"--you know, to "match the couch." That was a running joke among friends for a while. Then again, one collector had her antique dining room table legs shortened so she could see my painting better. I intentionally don't make art to exclude people... I make work with a lot of facets, all of which can be accessed if a person wants to go into it deeply or not. I'm not interested in making work that excludes. If a tugboat captain tells me I've nailed it, that's the best feedback to me.

4. What are some struggling artist stereotypes you embody?

I have no idea. As far as I'm concerned, my job is to show up, pay attention and do the work. As long as I do my job, I've earned my keep.

5. In 2000, you suffered a stroke. How did that affect your painting?

My vision changed. I kept going back to the opthamologist because my peripheral vision was so wide. I thought there was something wrong with my sight. But it wasn't sight, it was vision. They are very different. I see the energy of things more now. Less detailed physical definition and more the internal sense of things. I can't draw anymore at all. But I can paint better. It simplified everything to me. Thankfully that's what art needs.

6. Are there any lingering effects from your stroke?

Yes. I still have trouble concentrating sometimes. And comprehending things like sarcasm and implied meanings. I take things pretty literally most of the time. And I need things to be clear, simple, organized and pretty tidy. Fatigue... There is a small list of things. It doesn't matter though, most people can't tell anymore unless you spend any length of time with me. And my dogs don't care. I think it's hard for people I'm close to sometimes. And that's hard.

7. Are there any lingering effects from growing up in Nanaimo?

Ha ha! No more than from having a stroke I suppose!

8. Judging by the thousands of whippet photos you've posted on Facebook just this week alone, you seem to have a fondness for the species. How many do you own?

Let's be clear. They own me. Luna (9), Shine (4), and Easy (13 weeks). Number four in the wings. They don't shed much so they are ideal in the studio. They are known as "the 45-mile-an-hour couch potato" (full speed or not at all), which makes them great for the studio as well. We all get out for a couple hour-long walks in a day and they are happy to lie around and criticize my work the rest of the time. They are smart, super snugly and they uphold justice like nobody's business. You just can't get away with less than excellent behavior with them. They keep me in line. I respect that.

9. Do your dogs ever influence your paintings?

Always. They help keep my heart and moods stable. They give everything more purpose in my life. They make me happy and that greatly influences the work and my ability to make it. It's tough on a person to work long hours alone in their mind, even if their body is laying paint down on a canvas. I don't think it's healthy. They help keep things in perspective. That's their job. They are my anchors.

10. Do you ever pick up your trumpet anymore?

Unfortunately I had to hock it while in university. Does that count for the previous starving artist stereotype question?

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Special Delivery...

Today I delivered 27 paintings and 3 small installations to the Bau-Xi Gallery here in Vancouver. Tonight Riko and I will install the show. My show opens on August 7th, from 2-4. It's called In Lieu of Flowers, and it's based on the grounds of Riverview Psychiatric Hospital, and adjacent Colony Farm.


Easy is doing great. We are a bit worried about the congestion in his sinuses. It hasn't cleared yet, and seems to be a bit worse today. We will be taking him in to see someone tomorrow to make sure everything is okay.


So grateful for my life.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010

painting cross eyed at 4am...

Everything has been flying along smoothly in the studio these days (and nights) as I've been preparing for an upcoming show at the Bau-Xi Gallery here in Vancouver (opens August 7th, 2-4pm).

The show is going to be a big one. Lots of large paintings. Lots of paintings, period. My studio is crammed full of canvases and I'm running short on space for things to dry.

These days, I'm up at 3:45am, in the studio and painting shortly after 4, back home between 7 and 9am, then in the studio again in the late afternoon until I can't see straight anymore. This new schedule (as of July 1st), is to accommodate my partner in crime as his new whippet puppy has arrived.

*Three weeks until delivery.*

Riko prefers me to deliver the work two weeks before the show opens, as she likes to allow time for a special interest list of collectors to be able to view the pieces before they hang. But, well, I might hang on to some of the work a little longer... Seems harder and harder to let work go these past couple years. I could never breed dogs and let puppies go, like Emily Carr did.

Everything is wet and continually getting wetter. This, by far, is the most stressful time in a show's life, yet somehow this puppy (who's name is 'Easy') with some kind of magical surgical precision, seems to have very cleanly inserted me into the very quiet center of what feels like a large swirling tornado...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Walt Whitman

Matching the Couch...

For a while, there was a joke circling about making paintings to match the couch. Or for a gallery client to find "something that go's" with their decor. A joke not among artists and gallery staff... but solely among artists. "Make a painting of a couch on fire," one artist suggested.

Instead, I've chosen not to participate in the whole thing.

The strongest affirmation I've had of this belief, is having been told of a client who purchased a very large painting a few years ago. It was a two panel piece and she wanted it in her dining room. Unfortunately, the antique dining room table stood a little bit too high, and interfered with the bottom line of the piece. Instead of choosing another painting, she had the legs of the table cut down.

This is my position: own only what you love, or, what you need.

Matching the couch is a fad. What happens when the couch is out of style in half a year, and then you have to look for a new painting to match your new couch anyway... ?


Lately, I've been noticing that the colours in some of my paintings and colours in other things, are similar. While drying a bathing suit on the arm of my rocking chair in my studio after swimming the other day... And eating a cantaloupe while gazing at a painting I was currently working on.

Environment impacts painting. Maybe if someone lent an artist their couch for a few years... a painting would show up to match it. Although, there would probably be a lot of paint left on it as well...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria

Thank you to The Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria for acknowledging me as one of 150 significant BC women artists.

Two people who help me make this work... work.

Yesterday, while painting in the studio, I felt a substantial amount of gratitude for two people here in town: Kevin Head, and Stand Rath.

Kevin Head is the master mind behind Kroma Artists Acrylics, down in The Net Loft, on Granville Island. Although I work in oils, I rely heavily on Kroma's high quality gesso and Escoda brushes from Spain. Not to mention the dose of positive calm that Kevin manages to dish out every time I see him.

Stan Rath is another person I depend on. Stan builds all my stretchers, and provides me with Holbein and Kama pigments. As well as any sketch books, pens or introductions to Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun (!)

Spending long hours in the studio offers little opportunity for social interaction. I value these two people. Not only for the essentials they provide, but for their dedication and love of art, kindness and generosity of spirit they share.

Thanks Kevin.
Thanks Stan.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The new website is finally up ! Please feel free to check it out if you like. Sure is nice to be able to do things myself.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Looking is half the painting...

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Special Places Initiative. Bau-Xi Toronto, March 27th - April sometime...

I'm in the midst of completing a show that will open in Toronto at the Bau-Xi Gallery on March 27th, 2010. Objects have been introduced to many of the landscapes. This isn't completely new as seen previously in Elastics: Blue on Green, and also in a large painting made for a show at the Foster/White Gallery in Seattle a couple of years ago. That one had some gesso buckets in it.

Three Sheets to the Wind
oil on canvas

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

Kimiko Tree

Yesterday I went with a few old high school friends to a Celebration of (Kimiko's) Life on the Island.

Kimiko von Boetticher 1968-2010

Although I'm okay with death, it's hard to believe she is gone. Actually, to be honest, I just don't want to believe it.

I could write page after page about how much I liked Kimiko and why. And all the things I remember about her. But I won't. Not here. Kimiko was diagnosed with ovarian cancer around 16 months ago. Everything happened so fast.

These are two paintings I named after her. The second painting, the red one with the trees, is called Kimiko's Haida Gwaii. I found out yesterday that it was her husband Andrew (Andrew and I met on a trampoline at a Halloween party in 8th grade) who purchased the painting for Kimiko for Christmas. I found out when I turned over the ceremony schedule and saw it, reproduced on the back.

Walter, Kimiko's brother, shared with me how Kimiko's Haida Gwaii had hung by Kimiko's bedside and that it had brought some comfort to him and Kimiko's family during this very difficult time.

The first painting is called Kimiko Tree.

I was painting the Kimiko Tree in my studio the day Kimiko died. Sunday, January 4th, 2010 at 12:12 in the afternoon. I had emailed Walter to ask about Kimiko, as I had not heard from Andrew in some time. I shared with him how Kimiko, Andrew and Kimiko's family had been on my mind so much in the studio that morning.

A couple hours later, Walter replied. Kimiko had passed away four hours before.

Painting that afternoon happened inside conscious intent: to surrender to anything Kimiko might like to do. I welcomed her spirit to paint, if she wanted to. This painting had been a struggle for so long. In no time, it soon came to life. I felt Kimiko playing, like a blissful child. Painless, ecstatic and free.

The Kimiko Tree will live with Kimiko's family in Victoria, BC.

It has been an honor and privilege to share in this very sacred transition in Kimiko's life.

Kimiko gave us all her favorite quote to meditate on. I've been sitting with it a lot. I think I'm beginning to understand and like it. A lot.

"The cost of hating others is loving yourself less."

Happy travels, my friend. May you rest in Great natural Peace.