Have you ever listened to music or seen a photograph that makes your stomach drop and your body feel hollow? It happens because what you hear or see is staggering, it hits your core, resonates from your skull to ribs right down to your metatarsals from impact. If I were to describe Sam Baker’s “Dream of the Yellow Eyed Wolf”, that’s exactly how I would: impactful and so familiar I was startled. The original painting itself is comprised of oil paints in warning colors like: red, yellow, deep green, black and shocking tones of blue. Although this painting is alluring on its’ own, the six other versions enforce his point. Especially, the two on the far right top row. He uses bright red with a dulled white that shines brighter from the contrast between the candy red and sickish, bright yellow.
Baker saw this yellow-eyed wolf in a vision during his recovery acquired a terrorist bomb in a bus in Machu Picchu, Peru. These injuries required him to learn how to rewire his grey matter to walk, talk, and all basic physical capacities we take for granted. One night during his recovery, he took too much medication when the wolf appeared– ‘I could not move. On my left, a wolf with yellow eyes had come and sat beside the bed on its haunches…A messenger. Not to threaten, but to warn me” (Baker). The next day, it reads he cut back on the pills.
The urgency of the wolf and his meaning resonates in all of his renditions of the wolf. It never looks threatening, but the hair still prickled on my forearms every time I see it in the Parlor Gallery of the Sead Gallery. It really feels as though the wolf and those eyes can see through every wall, every lie, every thought I’ve ever put up in my mind; it just knows. A warning. Like I’m infringing on a world or dimension I don’t belong to yet.
Sam Baker’s installments, including “Dream of the Yellow Eyed Wolf”, are available for viewing at Downtown Bryan’s Sead Gallery until October 14th.