Return to Atara Baker Home page
mixed media and oil artist
4563 Terry Lane
La Mesa, California 91941
I have generally accumulated a great deal of experience concerning the meanings of color and its relationship to observed form. On that level, my work constitutes a contemporary perspective on the relationships of color and pattern in primitive society.
On another level, my "masks" are an interpretation of my life's experiences, in particular those from the decade I spent living in South Africa, and reflect a search for the primeval in oneself and liberation from the constrictions of modern society.They attempt to scratch at the surface of the present to reveal personal and ancient cultural memories through an exploration of the forms of expression of the anonymous artists who created both the paintings on the walls of ancient caves and ritual masks. There is a close connection between the "primitive" modes of these drawings/paintings and mask making, and the "modern" modes of drawing/painting and object making which have sought to express themselves in a "new" way; in short, a close similarity in the mode of expression in primitive art to that of modern artists.
My "masks" accordingly serve as tiny illustrations of the recurrent "laws" of representation which appear in human history and the tradition that connects past and present artistic expressions. The images embody values and beliefs that survive eras, becoming part of an eternal visual vocabulary that floats in collective memory. To this end, expression of time is of the essence, and is compressed into a dense abraded surface; the colors I use are, for the most part, primeval: earth-toned and evocative of soot-smudged cave walls. These works not only lack local coloring or affiliation, but also any sexual identity which serves to reinforce their impenetrability, appropriate to the "Darkest Continent". We may consider them also as semi-abstract signs, as though the vegetable and animal worlds have undergone some reductive process, but in spite of which the source of their vitality is taken from nature: we live in nature and are influenced by it.
On a more mundane level, the paintings also relate to the lifestyles of the diverse and culturally integrated communities in South Africa that fascinated me there, particularly that of the Bushman (San) people of the Kalahari Desert, and can be said to be variations of the African tribal masks that we have collected and others we have encountered over the years, in other collections, literature, exhibitions, and curio outlets, and of the Bushman cave paintings. Each painting is also part of the whole and tells its story best in accompaniment with the rest, just as primitive society does.
Meyer Schapiro, "Style", in A.L. Krober, ed., Anthropology Today: An Encyclopedic Invention, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953.
A footnote: Bill Ainslie, my mentor in South Africa, was recently killed in a motor car accident (August 1989) and my later works, with their inscribed Hebrew messages, have been executed as tributes to him and his vision.
Born in Israel
In 1969, Atara studied Sculpture at the Acadamia Della Arte in Rome under the world known sculptor Emilio Greco.
In London, she studied the human form in various schools; in New York spent some time at the Artists' League and, in Los Angeles, at Los Angeles City College.
In 1971, Atara moved to new experiences in South Africa, studying full-time under well-known artists, Bill Ainslie, in his own school, for six years, and Noel Bisseker at the Johannesburg College of Art, and generally accumulated a great deal of experience concerning her deep interest in the meanings of color and its relationship to observed form. The culturally integrated tribal life, particularly that of the Bushmen people, manifested in the richly textured lifestyles and artifacts which she encountered in South Africa, to a great extent shaped her present artistic expression, in which color, as always, and the primeval play important roles. Late in 1979, Atara settled in San Diego, California, where she studied under Gary Hansmann, who proved to be a prime catalyst in her efforts to translate her African experiences into oil and mixed media, and is at present working from her studio in La Mesa.
Atara is a member of the San Diego Artists Guild, and her work is in private collections in South Africa, San Diego and Palo Alto, California, Washington State, Ohio, Colorado, Utah, Chicago, Connecticut, and Mexico.
1977 South Africa: Designed and exhibited a poster for the Fine Art Museum in Johannesburg.
1978 South Africa: All Media Annual Group Show, Rosebank Art Centre, Johannesburg.
1980 - 1981 San Diego: Monthly Juried shows at San Diego Art Institute, Balboa Park.
1981 San Diego: Group Show, Portfolio Gallery, Grossmont Centre; collection of A.R.T.
Beasley Gallery, Old Town.
San Diego: 27th Annual Juried Group Show at San Diego Art Institute, Balboa Park.
1982 San Diego: Three-person exhibition at the La Jolla Art Association Gallery, La Jolla.
San Diego: United Jewish Federation Group Show at the Sheraton Hotel, Harbor Island.
San Diego: Jewish Art 1982 Group Show, Beth El Congregation, La Jolla
San Diego: Israeli Day of Independence Fair, Beth El Congregation, La Jolla
Del Mar: Art in all Media 1982, Annual Group Show, Southern California Exposition, Del Mar.
1983 San Diego: Two-person exhibition at the La Jolla Art Association Gallery, La Jolla.
1984 San Diego: Gaslamp Council Annual Juried Show. (Painting no. 11/84)
San Diego: Group Show: "Shamanism" at Multicultural Arts Center Gallery.
San Diego: Guest artist at San Diego Museum of Art, African Art Committee's fund raising
ball, "Kanaga Affair". Featured in Channel 10 (ABC)'s "International Hour".
1985 San Diego: Solo exhibition at San Diego Public Library. (1985)
San Diego: San Diego Art Institute Midsummer Open Award Show, Balboa Park - Award Winner. (13/85 and 14/85)
San Diego: Two-person show at Gallery 5, Hillcrest.
1986 San Diego: San Diego Art Institute Midwinter Open Award Show, Balboa Park. (15/86)
San Diego: San Diego Art Institute Midsummer Open Award Show, Balboa Park. (19/86)
San Diego: San Diego Artists Guild Open Award Show, San Diego Museum of Art,
Balboa Park. (16/86)
1987 San Diego: San Diego Artists Guild Open Award Show, San Diego Museum of Art,
Balboa Park - Award Winner. (27/87)
1988 San Diego: San Diego Art Institute Midwinter Open Award Show, Balboa Park. (29/87)
New York: "Art Horizons" International Art Competition - Certificate of Excellence.
1989 San Diego: Group show at Brushworks Gallery.
Rancho Cucamonga, California: "Spirit Keepers": Group show at Wignall Museum/Gallery of Chaffey College.
San Diego: San Diego Art Institute Midsummer Open Award Show, Balboa Park (43/89)
Grants Pass: Oregon: Two-person Show at Grants Pass Museum of Art. (1989)
San Diego: In collection of Art du Jour Gallery, La Jolla (39/89)
San Diego: Two-person show at "Art Corner Gallery", Standard Brands.
1990 San Diego: San Diego Artists Guild Juried Exhibition, San Diego Museum of Art,
Balboa Park (46/89) Minot, North Dakota: Accepted for 13th Annual North Dakota National Juried Exhibition (36/88)
San Diego: San Diego Art Institute Midwinter Open Award Show, Balboa Park (47/90)
San Diego: In collection of Pratt Gallery for "Artwalk" (47/90, 48/90)
1990 San Diego: "Echoes of Time and the River:" Four-person show at
Calhoun Design Center Gallery.
San Diego: In collection of Peter Hall Gallery. (30/87, 34/88, 38/88, 44/89, 47/89)
1991 Palo Alto: Two-person show at Pacific International Art Gallery. (1991)
Long Beach: Long Beach Arts 87th Open Juried Exhibition. (46/89, 47/90)
Dexter, Michigan: Accepted for National Juried Fine Arts Exhibition at Farrington-
Keith Creative Arts Center (47/90)
Houston, Texas: Accepted for Visual Arts Alliance Eighth Annual Open Juried Exhibition (51/90)
Palo Alto: Group Show at Pacific International Art Gallery.
Santa Ana: Orange County Center for Contemporary Art.
Eleventh Annual Juried Show (46/89)
San Diego: San Diego Artist Guild Juried Membership Show at Lyceum Theater Gallery (51/90)
San Diego: San Diego Art Institute Mid-Summer Open Award Show Balboa Park (57/91)
Los Angeles: "Emerging Visions": Juried Exhibition at Melrose Village Gallery
Sponsored by CC&W, Inc. Art Corporation (47/90)
1992 San Diego: San Diego Art Institute Mid-Winter Open Award Show, Balboa Park -
Award winner for 56/91 (54/90, 56/91)
San Diego: Invitational Group Show: "Six Signatures/Multi Media" at Martin Wagner Gallery, East County Jewish Community Center.
Los Angeles: Group Exhibition at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Art Rental Gallery.
Los Angeles: Accepted for Juried competition for emerging California artists at Finegood Art Gallery, West Hills, sponsored by the Art Council, San Fernando Valley
Region of Jewish Federation Council for Greater Los Angeles. (56/91)
Las Vegas: Solo Show at Reed Whipple Cultural Center Art Gallery.
San Diego: Solo Show at Upstairs Gallery, Hillcrest, (Series III).
1985 San Diego: Daily Californian - Delia Elliot.
San Diego: The Tribune, Friday, July 26, 1985 - Mark-Elliott Lugo
1989 Grants Pass
Oregon: Daily Courier, Friday, July 14, 1989 - Tom Braman
1990 Los Angeles: Los Angeles Times, Friday, July 11, 1990 - Leah Ollman
1991 Napoli, Italy: HYRIA: Cultura E. Societa Della Nova Europa,
June - September 1991 -Maurizio Vitiello