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The eyes have it 

Monument native Carrie Ann Baade's paintings are reality, with a twist

click to enlarge "Demoiselle in Distress" by Carrie Ann Baade.
  • "Demoiselle in Distress" by Carrie Ann Baade.

A self-described imaginative realist, painter Carrie Ann Baade says her imagination was honed, in part, from growing up in Monument during the 1980s, when she was the only child within two miles of her home.

"I had to develop my own games," says Baade. "I was literally playing with bones and rocks."

Following graduation from Lewis-Palmer High School in 1993, Baade took her imagination to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Delaware and around the world, collecting images and inspiration at every step.

Her finely wrought oils on copper pastiches painted from collages she assembles from cut-up early art masterpieces, postcards, travel brochures and other ephemera have captured the attention of the Pop Surrealist community, artists and collectors who value imaginative takes on traditional art principles.

"I try to make my paintings have as much going on as possible," says Baade. "One image isn't enough; I wanted more layers. I'm trying to let the viewer have that feeling where they want to know what's going on underneath, what's behind the scenes, because that's what so much of life is all about."

Enticing the viewer to look deeper, Baade's compositional characters wear what she calls "eye masks," allegorical sets of eyes superimposed over the true windows to the soul.

"Depending upon the painting, sometimes the eye masks speak about the intuitive feelings of the figure, and sometimes they're a mask disguising those feelings," says Baade.

The paintings' jewel-like colors and textures are owed to a Pre-Raphaelite technique Baade has embraced, using copal, a hard resin that, when mixed with paint, results in a near enamel quality. The copper foundation also infuses the paintings with a warm glow.

Baade says she treasures trips home to Monument because "there's such a wonderful art community there now." When she returns this time to exhibit her work at the Pankratz Gallery, she'll be celebrating how far she's come as an artist and the roots of her unique vision. On May 25, she will give a presentation explaining the unique construction and meaning of her work.

"My mother has requested no more crying paintings, so for a time I took the eyes out altogether," says Baade. "In my piece "The Passion of Lovers,' I put the thorns of Christ over the [figures'] eyes you know, it's a bit of a clich: Love is blind.

"My compositions are metaphors for the human condition."

Kathryn Eastburn

  • Monument native Carrie Ann Baade's paintings are reality, with a twist

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