The art of homemaking

by RaeLynn Callaway
Mike Kemp photos

Art is such a small word that encompasses such a broad range of human creativity. You can find art just about everywhere you look and in an almost unimaginable variety of subject matters, mediums and price ranges.

I see my client’s homes as works of art, displaying many different collections that reveal their life experiences. Whether in their photographs, furnishings or actual collections, most, unknowingly, give all who enter a better understanding of who they are and where they’ve been.

Over the past year I have had the opportunity to get to know John and Karen Baker. They are a charming couple with a beautiful family. Both learned a love for art from their mothers; Karen’s mom, Frances Furlow, a collector, and John’s mom, Carolyn Baker, a painter.

“My mom has given me some of her pieces that were my favorites growing up, but John and I have started collecting our own,” Karen said.

Most of their art is from local 501 artists, but they have collected pieces on travels abroad as well. “All the pieces have special meaning to us, each with their own story,” Karen said, pointing to a Bonnie McKay watercolor given to her by her sister-in-law Julie. “The title of this one is ‘Freeway’ and was given to me when I graduated from medical school.”

Karen loves all kinds of art but is drawn to pieces that use mother and child as their subject, and she’s taken by the use of oil and watercolor as their medium. Besides her mother-in-law, Carolyn, her sister-in-law, Nina, and her daughter, Hannah, some of her favorite artists are Bonnie McKay, Ava Partridge, Jean Turley, Barry Thomas and Heather Mainord. “I am also a huge fan of Steve Griffith’s work, but I haven’t purchased one of his yet,” Karen said. “It’s on our list.”

John’s love for art isn’t only that on canvas. He also has a passion for music and guitars. “I started playing (guitar) when I was 7 or 8 years old,” John said. “My mom took me to a teacher in Little Rock, but he told her my hands were too small. That’s when I decided to teach myself.”

He got his first “good” guitar when he was 15 — a 1976 Sigma Martin. “My collection consists of acoustic and electric guitars,” John said.

His most recent purchase was a 1968 Gibson J200. “It’s just a classic acoustic guitar that everyone wants. It’s the model Bob Dylan, George Harrison and many others played. I love playing it and thinking about its history.”

John shares his love of the guitar and music writing with his oldest son, John Christian. “One of my favorite guitars is probably my Gruhn 1965 Martin. It’s a year younger than me!” John laughed.

Besides their collections of art, the Baker home is a work of art itself. On the outside, John does his own landscaping and has created an exquisite backdrop for their beautiful home. On the inside, the newly remodeled kitchen, foyer and stairway give a show of their own.