Thursday, January 17, 2008

Peek at the Week
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Artist's work looks good enough to eat

January 17, 2008
Life is sweet for Island Lake artist Barbara Sistak Baur at the moment, as she has been busy displaying her "bakery art" at several venues in Chicago and its suburbs. Instead of piling on frosting, she adds thick layers of acrylic paint to her depictions of cakes, cookies, pies and doughnuts. The technique, called impasto, creates realistic three-dimensional swirls and ripples that look good enough to eat.

Sistak Baur's inspiration for the series was a bakery case in a small supermarket. "It had very colorful, very unusual bakery pieces," she said. "I went back and took pictures, thinking they would be fun to paint. Of course, they thought I was nuts."

That first painting of little more than a year ago, "Strawberry Pastries," has led to more than a baker's dozen of hunger-inducing works. Two of her more recent pieces, "Eat Cake II" and "Choose Your Treat!", have been acquired by the McHenry County Government Center and will be hung in the courthouse in Woodstock. "Lemon or Cherry?", featuring trays of cookies, is currently tantalizing students at Eastview Elementary School as part of a Village of Algonquin Public Arts Commission program. The painting is on a year-long loan to the commission. Her "confections" will also be exhibited at the Fresh Express Cafe in Riverside for most of the month of February.

Sistak Baur doesn't confine herself to the kitchen, however. She is currently working on a commission of two book-themed end tables for the Algonquin Area Public Library. After painting images of books on the tops of the tables, she is surrounding them with library memorabilia such as bookmarks, library cards and Dewey Decimal labels. The whole is then encased in resin. She also creates "car art," paintings of sedans, sports cars, hot rods and more, which complements her husband's business of selling collectible license plates.

Her work has also been displayed at the 2007 Chicago Art Open, Caffe Luna in Crystal Lake, Norris Cultural Center in St. Charles, and Women's Works at the Woodstock Arts Center.

Sistak Baur's Web site is

-- Compiled by Susan Kane-Parker

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