Richard Baker likes to challenge artists who wish they were creating with four words: “Who’s in your way?” It was a question he asked himself nearly ten years ago after surviving a heart attack. Recovering afterwards, at the height of the Great Recession, Baker felt fortunate to have a job in management, but found it unfulfilling. His career, along with raising a family, had kept him too busy to paint as often as he liked in the years before he moved to NC in 2005. In 2010, he left his job to open a gallery.
After running gallery/studios in Tryon, Saluda and Asheville, Baker opened Balsam Ridge Gallery last fall. The 1,500-square-foot space features oils of the Southern Appalachian Mountains—inspired by the Hudson River School style of painting that he has admired and studied for years—as well as furniture, sculpture and pottery by regional artists.
“I am thrilled to be in Waynesville painting the mountains in my ‘backyard’,” Baker says. “How could I not be?”