Artist Helen Bayly is the perfect blend of artist and science enthusiast, and her latest body of work entitled “Origins” at LOPO Gallery is breath of fresh air in the contemporary scene. Her work highlights figures such as Carl Sagan and Phillip K. Dick, and juxtaposes religious symbology with science.

We were able to peek into the mind of this intriguing artist, and sat down with Helen to ask her a few questions….

1). Can you tell us a bit about yourself, what you do, and how you first started into the world of art?

I grew up in Santa Cruz, California. It was a wonderful place to grow up with all of the sprawling nature and drugs a youth could want. I graduated high school at 16 and spent two years at junior college focusing on art and business, trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life.

My grandparents had offered to pay for my college education as long as it wasn’t studying art or music (only something practical) but the business classes only lasted for so long. I had to let go of the offer and applied at the San Francisco Art Institute to study painting. I wanted to pursue an art career because making art gave me a deeper satisfaction in it’s process. I decided that if I was going to do something for the rest of my life, it had better be something I enjoyed. And I enjoy painting very much. SFAI was a wonderful place to study and I’ve been making art ever since.

2). How was “Origins” conceived?

‘Origins’ has to do with a reinterpretation of the story of how humans came to be. Although growing up in a religious home, I find little to no purpose for religion in my life and yet it seems to seriously shape our collective concept of the human experience from the beginning of time, into the future. With this series of work I wanted to borrow the format of religious painting and apply updated concepts. The painting titled ‘Origins’, where I got the show title from, is essentially two monkeys in love. That’s where humans really come from, not Adam and Eve’s incest tribe of offspring. I wanted to cherish the things that I think are inspiring. I love science fiction, the natural world, and the loose grip on reality we’ve got . And let’s face it, if anyone should be a Saint, it should be Carl Sagan. He was so peaceful and knowledgeable.

3). Science obviously plays a large role in this current body of work, do you think science and art go hand in hand?

I think they go hand in hand in the way that creative thinking is required for both. To take one’s reality and impose another, working with creative concepts in the pursuit of understanding something (and to get rid of it altogether if it doesn’t work!), that’s a task not suited for all. I remember a math teacher talking about the way in which artists and mathematicians would come up with ideas being very similar as well. They start with the epiphany or vision and then work backwards to explain it. I know it’s a stereo type for artists to hate math and science for whatever reason, but I’ve enjoyed their influences in my life. I guess in a weird way science helps me to understand more about my world and then art becomes the evidence of that understanding.

4). Who are some of your influences?

Early on when I was learning about art, the low brow art movement hit the main stream, Barry McGee and all that. It was impossible not to be influenced. Plus, that’s how art was introduced to me as a teen, through graffiti. My older brother and his friends would take me to train yards and abandoned tunnels to paint as a teenager, it was such a rush.
Since then I’ve seen so much more though. I’ve been to the Louvre, the Prado, a bunch of places and I am open to all sorts of art. Seeing Rembrandt’s Slaughtered Ox painting in person is beyond beautiful. Some of my all time favorites are Frida Kahlo, Chris Johansson, Francis Bacon, Van Gogh, Josh Keys, and Clair Rojas is pretty cool as well. I’m influenced by movies and books too. There’s a lot of stuff in the world to be influenced by.

5). What’s next for Helen Bayly?

There will be a closing reception at Lopo Gallery May 7th for my Origins show, and I’ll be doing group shows with the Lopo and Space Galleries for at least the next few months. Right now I’m also starting a larger body of work pushing the Origins concept further, it’ll be ready to show in about 6 months. I’m talking with some galleries about where that collection will go but nothing official yet. Basically I’ll be painting a bunch. Then after that, painting even more! I’ll post upcoming events and openings on my blog
– Warholian


To find out more about Helen’s current show, please visit Lopo Gallery here:
Photos by Michael Cuffe for Warholian