For this month, the Winnipeg River Arts Council features Jim Baxter, from the small community of Leisure Falls, just two miles north of Great Falls. His primary art interest is acrylic painting, with his favourite subject being landscapes. He paints various scenes but he prefers scenes from winter or early spring.
His other interest is carving diamond willow walking sticks and canes. The way he creates these canes and walking sticks is different from most wood artists in that he likes to carve through the cane or stick leaving openings throughout the shaft.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Baxter bought property in Leisure Falls and has spent his last nine summers in the area. He says, “I think that my artistic passion comes from a fifty-two year career as a professional taxidermist, which in itself is an art. I have created many natural settings and painted many backgrounds, to show the mounted specimen in its natural environment.”
He has no formal training in art or taxidermy but he has taught both in evening courses at several Winnipeg schools. Although he had not previously competed in any art exhibitions, last fall he decided to try it. He displayed his work and sold his carved walking sticks and paintings at the 4P Festival in Powerview-Pine Falls.
Despite never having won any awards for his paintings or carvings, he got lots of compliments at his first display. He especially appreciated all the supportive comments from Charlie Niedermayer, another WRAC artist. Baxter says, “Charlie is a man he I have long admired for his talent.”
Every year, Baxter donates a painting to Cancer Care for a silent auction and donates walking sticks to wildlife associations for fund raisers.
He feels gets inspired by the compliments he receives from the pieces of art he has completed. It gives him a lot of personal satisfaction. He says, “Anyone who enjoys any form of art should always enter contests or displays. You might find just out that others often see more in your art than you do.”