Artist Garin Baker is on a mission: He wants to reintroduce the traditions of the great muralists of the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries to the world. Using the traditional techniques of muralists like Frank Brangwyn and Josep Sert, Baker creates realist paintings and murals of people from all walks of life. Athletes, construction workers, and policemen have all been featured in his work, which garnered particular interest with organizations wishing to pay homage to rescuers post 9/11.
So it’s no surprise that when it came time to award a Percent-for-Art Commission for Fire Station 150 in Santa Clarita, CA, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission knew they had a winner in Baker.
“There’s a consistency in his work,” says Erin Harkey, project manager for the Civic Art Program at the Commission. “At a time when fire stations were in the process of showing heroic representations of firemen, the style of Garin’s work was just a good fit for this project.”
Baker took this representation seriously, riding along with firefighters from a nearby L.A. county fire station for nearly a week, where he witnessed the bravery and sacrifice of these men and women firsthand. Over the subsequent months, working from his New York studio, Baker created his own heroic scene of firefighters using a winding road as a fire break to protect the rolling hills of California.
In the traditional style of the muralists he works so hard to honor, Baker created his work on twelve-foot rolled canvases, using alkyd enamels. When the work was complete, his three painted canvases measured ten feet high and twenty-seven feet wide. Working with his assistant, he shipped and installed the work in August 2012, pasting each section carefully to the wall, then finishing the entire piece with a protective varnish.
Today, the mural is a point of pride for Station 150. “We were definitely pleased with the final artwork,” says Harkey. “And I’ve heard from the fire chief that the firemen at the station really enjoy this piece as well.”