ASHTABULA — Ever wonder what the owner of a bicycle shop in northeast Ohio does when snow converts bike trails to snowmobile paths?
In the case of Bernie Baker, owner of B.J. Bicycle Shop, the shop stays open throughout the winter, but Baker trades his mechanic’s wrenches for artist brushes, the arcs of bicycle tires and handle bars for the crisp lines of bridges, barns, steamships and fishing villages. Like tires that are always turning yet never deviate from their destiny on the spoked wheel, Baker comes full circle every winter. The photographs he snaps during those rare, leisurely hours of summer are extracted and studied; the most promising of the images interpreted as vivid acrylics with a sunny disposition and enough depth to create an ocean.
Baker’s exhibition of acrylics and several airbrush works, “Full Circle,” hangs in the Ashtabula Arts Center gallery through Nov. 25. Although Baker’s prints are familiar to both local and regional art buyers, the exhibition marks his first solo effort at the arts center. He also has exhibited with other members of the Lake Shore Artists.
“This is the first time I’ve seen them all hanging together at the same time,” Baker said as he stood back and examined the exhibition in toto earlier this week.
Baker said he liked what he was seeing — the mostly bright, bold paintings reflect his experiences and the mood in which they were enjoyed.
“I try to make sure I paint what I feel like painting,” Baker said. “That’s when you do your best work. You paint what your mood is at the moment.”
He also has the satisfaction of painting what buyers want. Baker has sold thousands of prints to locals and tourists alike. He’s also done numerous commissions. His work is sold in art galleries and fine gift shops in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York; his paintings hang in private homes throughout the United States and Scotland, England, France and Canada.