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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Scott Bauer

Myself and Scott Bauer with his painting Allure, on board the Allure of the Seas.
Having spent some twelve days aboard Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas on our way to Barcelona, Spain, and from there to Paris, many of the upcoming entries here may have a tendency to sound more like travelogues than articles having to do directly with art. Be that as it may, that's not the case in this case. While on "the boat" I met an engaging painter named Scott Bauer. While I spent my time resting, playing trivia, eating some incredibly flavorful ice cream, and enjoying high-end entertainment, Scott painted. Virtually every day of the cruise, he could be seen at his borrowed easel with a medium-size canvas painting his own private tribute to Abstract Expressionism. That's what some have called a "busman's holiday," (a cab driver going for a "drive" on his day off).

Allure, 2015, Scott Bauer
On White II, 1923, Wasilly Kandinsky
In first seeing Scott at work at his easel my first reaction was to look about for what it was he might be painting. He faced one of the ship's elevator lobbies which, while quite attractive in a polished glass and chrome sort of way, would not be the choice of most artists as to subject matter. My first question evolved, "Who or what is your inspiration?" It was a dumb question on my part in that Scott's work had Wasilly Kandinsky written all over it. In that we had a lot in common, Scott and I struck up lively conversation regarding his work, my work, and art in general. We are both roughly the same age (he was born in 1954), and we are both struggling artists with outgoing personalities. However, our differences were as notable as our similarities. Scott was Midwestern born (Nebraska) and currently works out of Austin, Texas. I'm totally Ohio. I'm academically trained while Scott's art training has been limited to a matter of weeks at a local Florida art center. He thought such classes would be a good way to meet women. He readily confessed, they weren't. His meager classes were, however sufficient to ignite the spark of creativity which had lain dormant within him for more than thirty years as he pursued a successful career as a chemical engineer (he even has a few patents).

One of Bauer's rare departures from Kandinsky geometry.
Forest Sunrise, Scott Bauer
Scott Bauer's work is almost entirely Abstract Expressionism; and as limiting as that sounds, it isn't, really. Anyone who has studied this style and era (1945-60) knows there were almost as many permutations as there were artists exploring them. Bauer had dabbled in virtually all of them (some with more success than others). He's been painting for only five years, mostly in acrylics, and for the most part completely eschews any representational elements in his work. They do, at times, creep in however, especially words as seen in his Allure (top) and his Impressionistic Forest Sunrise (left). Both are interesting in that they are not typical of most of Bauer's work. That is to say, they look nothing like Kandinsky.

Construction Project, Scott Bauer
Descent into Chaos, Scott Bauer
Kandinsky died in 1944. Abstract Expressionism, while it has never really died, has certainly fallen into the realm of passé during the latter years of the 20th-century. Abstract Expressionism marked the crescendo of Modern Art with Minimalism being imbued with the closing strains. With the advent of Pop Art and all that has followed in the more than fifty years since, Postmodern art with all the complexities, eclecticism, and absurdities unveiled by cutting-edge artists today, takes issue with the mined-over styles of the past, marking them as either "retro" or "tributes." Bauer's work could probably be considered both, but certainly not in any way breaking new ground. What Bauer is doing in 2015 has already been done nearly ninety years ago by Kandinsky and the other Abstract Expressionists his work unleashed. That's not to say that Bauer's work is not without moments of breathtaking beauty, as seen in his Construction Project (above) and his Descent into Chaos (above, right).
Serenity, 2015, Scott Bauer,
his second painting endeavor aboard
the Allure of the Seas.

It is quite acceptable for an artist to know his or her limitations and work within them. Bauer appears to do both. Nonetheless, an artist cannot show significant growth while working within stringent, self-imposed limitations as to style and/or content. An artist needs to work and study aimed at expanding those limitations. Having said that, Bauer's painting, Allure, done on the ship, sold for a good price to a couple also traveling on the Allure of the Seas, bringing the artist to the realization that: "I got more international exposure in two weeks than I got in the past 3 years. Why did I not think of this before?" Indeed. This public relations/marketing ploy, while somewhat costly, marks Scott as cutting-edge in that regard. Whole careers have been built on less.

Scott Bauer at work on the early stages of his painting, Allure.
Like most of us, Scott Bauer has high hopes of one day being a "rich and famous" artist (well, famous, anyway) if not during his own lifetime than in the decades and centuries after his death. There are millions of artists on this earth pursuing a few thousand wealthy, erudite, art buyers. Each of those artists has their own peculiar strengths and weaknesses. Fortunately, in Scott's case, few of them are still pursuing the tired art of Kandinsky's brand of Abstract Expressionism. There's likely a good reason for that. Kandinsky and his followers eventually found it to be a dead end.

Scott Bauer enjoying the attention as the only
working artist aboard the Allure of the Seas.

More of Scott Bauer's work can be seen at:


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