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Artist Interview: Mike Baur

Mike Baur Artist Interview

By Patrick Folise

Mike Baur is best known for his architectural scale concrete and steel public sculptures, but is also prolific in smaller scale works, exploiting any and all available materials he can work with his hands.

After graduating with a BFA from Arkansas State University in 1973, he attended the University of Illinois Graduate School in Sculpture (MFA’75). While in his first year at Urbana Mike switched from fiberglass to concrete after losing several large pieces in a tornado. In 1974, he won an international competition to build a 200-ton concrete sculpture in Barcelona, Spain.

Baur€™s sculpture can be found in numerous locations in Illinois, in the United States and in Spain. His monumental pieces are sited in Taragona, Spain, in The Illinois Department of Transportation Building in Springfield, on the campus of Elgin Community College, in Northpoint Marina in Winthrop Harbor, the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park among others.

He was represented by the venerable Sonia Zaks Gallery from 1981-2005, and has exhibited in numerous museums, outdoor large-scale sculpture venues and group shows in the United States and in Europe. He is currently represented by OK Harris Works of Art in New York and Olsen-Larsen Galleries in West Des Moines, IA.

Tell me about your work space .

I work in a steel building that I built on 5 acres in West Chicago. I have an old Com-Ed crane truck, large gantries and an industrial tractor with forks and and a front end loader. It is all old but serves my purpose well. I was able to cast a 60 ft. tall piece in my studio weighing over 90 tons with no problem. My shop is cozy and warm in winter and opens up to outside in the summer.

What obstacles do you face in making and exhibiting your work?

There are no real obstacles to either make or exhibiting my work except time. There is never enough time to pursue all avenues.

What artists have influenced you, and how?

Jackson Pollock for his action and process becoming the subject. Egyptian art for its stability and permanence. Gothic art particularly sculpture for its personal, handmade feel and pacific rim arts for the same reasons.

As an established sculptor, what is the best advice you could offer an artist who is just starting their career?

Live in large metro area, get to know everyone connected with art you can, get the best studio space you can afford-even if you can’t afford it. Make a lot of work and show it everywhere you can.

artist bio via

Mike Baur’s “Lost Route” at the Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park