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Painter of the bold and bright

Art gives Lodi native and painter Krista Baumbach a way to put her own twist on history. Her latest show, ‘A Collection of Female Heads,’ on display at cellardoor, is her interpretation of how the Last Supper would appear if the disciples had been women.

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Posted: Friday, April 5, 2013 7:23 am

For three years into her college career, Lodi native Krista Baumbach’s focus was on her ambitious double major of psychology and criminology.

But then, she changed her mind. Just like that.

“You know when you have to do something and it just makes you breathe easier,” says the California State University, Fresno graduate.

That feeling — the one that made her transition into a new mindset and allowed her to thrive in a completely new field — is what pushed her to change her major to art.

As a girl living in Lodi, Baumbach had always been creative. Her dad, Lodi landscape architect Ken Baumbach, influenced her early on as he would sketch and use bold colors. He remembers she always sketched and drew, but he says she didn’t think more about it until she took art classes at Lodi High School.

Still, art wasn’t something she thought to pursue in college.

That is, until she took Lynne Anderson’s beginning drawing class at Fresno State.

Shortly after the class began, a frustrated and an intimidated Baumbach told Anderson she wanted to quit the class.

“I don’t think I can do this,” she told her instructor.

But Anderson wouldn’t let her quit.

“She said, ‘No, I see something in you; if you quit, I will come after you. I swear, I will come after you,’” Baumbach recalls.

And so, the twentysomething psychology and criminology major stayed in the class. She focused on nature, often working with messy charcoal. She was drawn to an area on the north side of Fresno State that was decorated with horses and vineyards, a scene that always reminded her of her hometown in Lodi.

“It felt kind of home-based,” she said.

Baumbach is fourth-generation Lodian and giggles when she says, “My family loves Lodi.”

She grew up with her parents Ken Baumbach and Cindy West, brother Cameron Davis and sister Carrie Baumbach.

Her family has always been into sports, and Baumbach — who graduated from Lodi High School in 2004 — played water polo and competed in swimming for four years.

After graduating from Fresno State in 2011, she has been focusing on creating art. She has shown at Fields Family Wines in Downtown Lodi, and her short films have been shown at a Seattle film festival. Her newest series, “A Collection of Female Heads,” is on display at cellardoor in Lodi until the end of May.

The idea for these surrealistic paintings come from her interest in religious paintings and art history.

“I like to take certain elements and put a twist on them,” she said.

In “A Collection of Female Heads” she is representing her view of the Last Supper and what it would be like if there had been 12 female disciples.

She has completed about eight of the paintings in the series — in the end, there will be 12 disciples, plus one female Jesus — though only four of the large-scale pieces fit in cellardoor.

Baumbach, who believes in God and is a Christian, describes this show as her way to tweak history, like she can throw in her own personal twist.

It also allows her to approach the idea of religion in a different way.

“Religion is not typically accepted, so feels a little like I’m going against the grain,” she said.

When describing her paintings, she says they are not grotesque, violent or bloody — the notion she says many people have gotten when they hear the name of her collection. They are bright, colorful and expressionistic.

Ken Baumbach describes her work as uninhibited.

“Everything is bold and you have to look at it to enjoy it,” he said.

She gives the example of painting a dog. You will understand that it’s a dog, but you may not understand why it is a purple or green dog.

In the same way, she givers her interpretations of friends and family members in “A Collection of Female Heads,” where she can focus on the most important factors: Their faces so full of emotion.

As for their bodies, she says “Bodies can be reshaped and molded.” It is the emotion she is really aiming to pull out.

While she left behind her psychology career, there is no doubt that her interests affect her work psychologically. She references Egon Schiele, whom she likes, but the history books seem to hate. He did nudes around the years of 1903 and 1905, which were then called pornography. But it is the way he could draw the human body — “very fleshy and edible,” she describes — that inspires her own work.

The native Lodian moved to Fresno last week, but will continue to show her art in Lodi. She is continuing to work on her art with the hopes of making it her full-time career. She dreams of being an instructor who retreats to work in her studio after teaching her class. She dreams, too, of the day her colorful oil paintings will hang in the Guggenheim.

“I might not know when, how or when I’m going, but I’m going to get there,” Baumbach said.

Contact Lodi Living Editor Lauren Nelson at laurenn@lodinews.com.

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