We had the good fortune of connecting with Jon Bauer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jon, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I began to pursue my artistic career as a “second year project” while obtaining a masters degree in Spiritual Psychology at the university of Santa Monica. I liked the poetry or prose that came forward when I would do a style of journaling called free form writing. This is a process where I would write freely, giving no thought to structure, topic or words. It would be a way to clear my mind of an issue that might be disturbing my peace. I would always burn or shed these writings unless something profoundly meaningful would show up, and then I would save that part of the writing. It had a sense of graffiti to me. .When it came time to choose a project in our second year of the masters program, I choose visual art form of graffiti. I wanted to keep the energy I felt around writing and create a visual piece of art at the same time. I took expressive art classes with Helen Bradley of PlayfulArtStudios while searching for instruction in graffiti. I eventually discovered a willing teacher and signed up for private lessons with LA graffiti artist, Scott Howe. I experienced so much joy freedom, and gentle support in this process, I simply kept doing it. I continued classes, received support and positive feedback, and began to show and sell my art. It was an extremely large change from my 40 plus years of practicing the art and discipline of general dentistry. I loved painting big and messy. That was ten years ago. I retired from dentistry and I have continued my study of expression though art and stepping into the business of art.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art is often abstract, raw and primitive, consisting of deep layers, earthy colors-tribal. My more realistic art pieces still show up with the previously mentioned aspects. There are usually rich textures and markings resulting from fairly heavy physical manipulations including scraping and rinsing or even washing. I am told there appears to be wisdom in the end results, such as a door that has been around for hundreds of years. The more interpretive, the greater the piece. I reach for my soul and that of others. I am most pleased when my art provides the space for the observer to travel into their own deeper, inner experiences. My favorite pieces show up when I release my mental intentions and simply connect with the canvas and paint from my higher self and from my Loving connections with the Universe or That which cannot be explained, It starts within me, often saying “yes” to the no. If something shows up that I don’t want to do, I go with it. If I hear “no” to a color or a topic, I have to do it. I think this has to do with stepping out of fear. This was the most challenging part for me. I have been, and continue to be most tested by my process of dissolving the barriers within myself that prevent. By this, I mean those barriers that prevent me from loving, those barriers that say I am not worthy, not trained, not good enough to be. It is not easy to overcome these very common human ways of thinking and being. It took what I would call “strength-of-heart” to break through these barriers. I have and continue to meditate, pray, ask for assistance, learn from readings and others-other artists, teachers, philosophers, way-showers, and so on to overcome these obstacles. Art helps me dissolve such barriers, hopefully for the last time. And, when I do come face to face with a barrier that is stopping me, I always forgive myself compassionately for ever buying into the illusion or misunderstanding it has created. Forgiveness is the key to healing these crazy places we allow ourselves to reach. The end result is a joyful moment or process in the studio that brings forward a visual treat for me and ideally for another to witness. It brings me immense joy when the result of my efforts come forward on canvas or wood. My final say on this is that I am not special, I am not alone. We are all capable of such a journeys and our canvas is unique and to be freely shared and expressed for all to see.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would start my day with a late breakfast at Shakey Alibi on Martel and Beverly for the most amazing waffle ever. The recipe is guarded, the service is layback, and the art is amazing and stimulating. We would window shop the neighborhood as there are cool galleries just across the street, before heading to Blick’s Art Store to share my favorite art supply store. From there I would head up LaBrea to some of my favorite shops including American Rag where we would and be serviced by the parking attendant whose name I sadly do not know, but who has been serving us there since the beginning, snack on a perfect French Latte and my all time favorite chocolate brownie, after shopping the jeans and vintage clothing. This would hold us over as we travel north to Hollywood Blvd to get a driving tour of my old neighborhood and Dental office on the corner of LaBrea and Hollywood Blvd. where LA’s “ugliest” (not my judging) street art exist-a chrome-metal, arbor-ish sculpture featuring Hollywood’s leading ladies from Silent films and such. We would make a brief stop at the Hollywood Rosevelt Hotel, to see the site of the first Oscars and the pool painted by famed artist, Andy Hockney. I would finish my Hollywood tour driving by the exquisitely restored Egyptian Theatre, built in Hollywood’s Golden Age by Sid Grauman and now home to the American Cinematheque’s film programming and in-person discussion with filmmakers. From there we would drive to the the parking lot of Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park so my best friend visitor could see the vast landscape we know as Los Angeles. We would end this day with a drive through the Lake Hollywood residential area beneath the Hollywood Sign and take a walk around perhaps LA’s least known lake, Lake Hollywood. This would lead us back to a relaxing evening with a picnic dinner under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl and a joyful concert featuring the Los Angeles Symphony, fireworks and all. That is Day one. I would spend the rest of the week visiting the LA County Museum and the Getty Museum-Old and New. We would walk the parks, Griffith and Elysian, taking in sites of the Greek Amphitheater and the iconic Dodger Stadium and lunch in Silver lake or Echo Park at Casito Del Campo or the Burrito King. We would take walking tours in Downtown LA to view the Ahmason and Dorothy Chandler Theatre, The Disney Hall, Grand Central Market, MOCA and the Broad Museums, and the Bonaventure Hotel. My favorite restaurants downtown are Calorie Kitchen and the Macaroni Republic, and the Nickel Diner. It is hip to have drinks at the Nomad and the views from the top of the newly built Korean Air tower, the tallest building west of the Mississippi. Visits to Old Pasadena and the famous museums in Pasadena such as the Huntington Gardens would be on my list. I would take day trips to the Santa Monica and Malibu Beaches on the Coast Highway. I would take my visitor on an overnight trip to Idyllwild California, to visit the Idyllwild Arts Campus, hike the Pacific Crest Trail, taste wine at the Middle Ridge Winery and Art Gallery, and dine outside under the stars listening to music of the night at Ferro’s Italian Restaurant We Would head back to Los Angeles through the wine country and Old Town Temcula.Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Helen Bradley, mentor and friend Briggs Whiteford, artist, classmate, and friend Julia Cameron and “The Artist Way” University of Santa Monica, Life changing program Will Steichen, life partner