Portrait of Tom Baumgartner
Tom Baumgartner
Tom Baumgartner is an artist and designer living in Tucson Arizona.

Artist Statement

I'm interested in an ancient/future aesthetic that frames the unknowable history of a place and its unknowable future. I like the mystery. I like mysterious symbols. I like the futuristic feel of ancient glyphs and the ancient aspects of our modern symbol-making. In the digital age of computer interface, icons embedded in natural scenes hint at an underlying structure, invisible forces, and human influence.


Tom has painted in oil and drawn with ink for 30yrs with a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has lived in Tucson for 20yrs is actively involved with local arts organizations, and founder of Wee Gallery. A life-long nature lover, his art focuses on the desert landscape, automatic writing, and aesthetics of science. Tom is currently Creative Director for AlphaGraphics in Tucson.

In my 20's, I was a renovation carpenter. Sometimes there was less than interesting work to do. On one particular day, I had to clean out a basement furnace room to prepare for new heating equipment. The 12' x 12' brick-walled room had a concrete floor with a center drain and one lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. If you know old basements, the mortar between bricks will calcify over the years, and any disturbance in the air will set strings of cobwebby calcium dust into the air. This room hadn't been entered in decades but had managed to collect a foot of sludge, discarded lumber, and trash.

Alone in a dirty cell-like room, I pondered my place in the world and tried not to get too depressed.

It took me a couple of hours to shovel the stuff and wheel barrel it outside. I used a broom on the brick walls and spent some time hosing the place off. The whole room was starting to look transformed, and I stopped to inspect my work.

The elephant head of the Hindu deity Ganesh smashed through one of the brick walls. The pink-eyed albino had intricately detailed ruby-encrusted jewelry adorning his tusks, trunk, and dribbling off his fringed headpiece. Globs of molten gold bounced and rolled onto the wet concrete floor spitting steam trails as if the metaphysical friction of breaking through the wall had encouraged golden ectoplasm. The vision lasted a split second.

This is the process of my artwork. I garden a fertile subconscious and then wait for it to 'flash' an image to me. Daydreaming is on my "To Do" list every day. In the last couple of years, I've been concentrating on inking technique and exploring handmade book technology.