James Baken artwork

James Baken’s 96-inch-by 60-inch painting “Be Elk” is among the Rocky Mountain College art professor’s works on display at the Arts Guild in Red Lodge starting Sept. 7.

Carbon County Arts Guild

RED LODGE — James Baken, an artist and professor who spent his formative years in Red Lodge and now teaches at Rocky Mountain College, will exhibit his newest work during the month of September at the Carbon County Arts Guild.

There will be a public reception Saturday, Sept. 7, from 3 to 5 p.m.

Baken prides himself on having grown up in the shadow of the Beartooth Mountains, where he hiked, camped, fished, hunted and explored. His family once lived next door to the See ’em Alive Zoo, where he acquired a sympathy for victimized animals everywhere. He developed an aesthetic inculcating wilderness and wildlife that he has featured in his art his entire life.

His family moved to Absarokee, where he graduated from school and joined the Navy, serving as a hospital corpsman during the Vietnam War. University studies in the fine arts, English, education and employment in a mine, wood beam manufacturing plant and psychiatric center helped form Baken, who builds and paints eclectic works of art. He uses raw objects from the mountains, sometimes incorporating antique replicas of European masters, a direct result of living a primal existence on the land and maintaining a passion for art history.

Baken and his family live in the Bitterroot National Forest each summer where he produces works of art while his wife spots and reports forest fires. He frequently guides students on art study trips in Europe. He has been teaching at Rocky since 1990.



Jaci Webb covers entertainment for The Billings Gazette.