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August 10, 2009 4:32 PM

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Prints Charming Baker

A Conversation Piece Plenty of artists -- Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst among them -- have rock-star reputations. But now the British artist Charming Baker is having his career shaped by a bona fide veteran of the music world,...

A Conversation Piece
Plenty of artists -- Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst among them -- have rock-star reputations. But now the British artist Charming Baker is having his career shaped by a bona fide veteran of the music world, manager Pat Magnarella.

Last month, Magnarella colleague Roger Klein took in Baker's solo show at East London's Redchurch gallery, and talked about why he and Magnarella -- who manages bands including Green Day and The Goo Goo Dolls - decided to start nurturing the visual arts.
"When we moved down to San Diego [where their company is based], we both felt so creative, and were just trying to think of ways that we could be helpful to others who were creative," says Klein, who first spied Baker's work at Los Angeles' Carmichael Gallery last year. "We started looking into all the fantastic contemporary art that was going on and we got very excited, because we saw that there was a place that we could be helpful in guiding somebody's career."
Half Pint

Baker's work often takes quintessentially English motifs-- such as the Queen's Horse Guards, dogs and horses--and works them into odd, disjointed situations. In one painting, a man with a seagull's head, in full riding regalia, trots on a horse, while in another, fencers duel against the backdrop of a suburban kitchen. "Like the music, we have to feel this passion or connection, and we totally do with Charming," said Klein.
One Day All The Things We've Made Will No Longer Exist

Klein plans to employ the tactics he and Magnarella use to break a band to push Baker's career. They'll have college kids handing out postcards of his work and will post video footage of his past shows on YouTube and art sites such as Arrested Motion and Artnet. Meanwhile, Baker will answer fans' questions about his work on his blog. (His next show is planned for the fall in New York.)

Klein insisted he's not been put off by being a neophyte in the art world. "It's where the punk rock ethic comes in," says Klein, who compares seeing Baker's work to the experience of discovering Talking Heads and The Ramones at New York's CBGB in the late Seventies. "We don't know what you can and can't do, what you're not supposed to do, what's going up, what's going down....we've always thought that if you honor the art, the commerce will follow."
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