DIXON – DaVinci once said “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
Recovering from addiction can be that way, too – an unfinished painting in search of inspiration, sometimes abandoned.
Michael Baker doesn’t want anyone to feel abandoned, and the Dixon man hopes he’s found a way to help people see the big picture, and maybe even create one or two of them.
Baker, 33, has formed a creative therapy group he calls Art of Recovery. The goal for the free classes are simple: Give people struggling with addiction a safe place to go – no questions or hassles – where they can tap into their creative side, unwind and meet new friends who want to be clean and free from their addiction.
Just don’t call it rehab, because it’s not.
It’s an option for those who have tried rehab and found that it isn’t cutting it, or for people who haven’t been in rehab but could use a helping hand with their addiction – any addiction: drugs, alcohol, depression, sex, gambling, anger, or anything else they just can't seem to shake.
Baker said the problem with rehab is that some people are forced to be there when they don’t want help, and that makes it hard for the ones who do. “I know a lot of people who have addiction problems that all say the same thing: ‘I really want to quit, but it's too hard when the only friends I have are doing what I want to get away from.’”
In Baker’s group, people won’t be expected to talk about their addiction if they don’t want to. There’s no drug test. They won’t violate their probation if they cut class.
All they have to do is be willing to show up and maybe even get in touch with that inner artist – but don’t worry, Baker doesn’t expect people to have their talents down to a fine art. Like he says on the class’s Facebook page: “You don't even have to be able to draw a stick figure to join.There is no judging or critiquing; it's to have fun.”
But if people do want to talk, Baker is there for them. And unlike some people who lend an ear, Baker actually has some skin in the game when it comes to dealing with demons. He’s had friends who’ve fought addiction, and 15 years ago he was battling addiction himself. He knows that the road to recovery is “a road that lasts forever.” He just wants to be able to help people along on their journey.
Baker said he started out expecting to help just a few people, but already more than two dozen have signed up for the classes that start Oct. 1. To get ready, Baker is looking for supplies. He'll take donations of anything art related: brushes, canvasses, clay, easels, sculpting tools. He’s also started a GoFundMe account.
A tattoo artist at Ink Storm Tattoo in Sterling, Baker will lend his skills to the class, but he won’t limit it to just painting. He said he plans to mix things up and use different mediums – clay sculpting, for example. He’d also like to take students on trips to art museums. Who knows, if thing go well, he even sees an art show of students’ work down the line.
In the meantime, he’ll keep spreading the word about his class and getting ready for his first day of school.
Some artists work their entire lives in search of that elusive masterpiece, trying to create a work of art that will last beyond their lifetime.
Michael Baker is no different.
But if his program is the success he hopes it will be, he’ll have found it – a work of art that will not only outlive him, but maybe even help someone outlive addiction.
Classes will be held at 4 p.m. the first and third Sundays of the month, beginning Oct. 1 at Ink Storm Tattoo, 110 S. Second Ave., Sterling.
To join: Contact Michael Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-440-7198
Contact Baker at email@example.com or 815-440-7198 or find Art of Recovery with Michael V. Baker on Facebook
Want to help?
Search for "Art of Recovery W/ Michael V. Baker" at GoFundMe.com
Supplies can be dropped off at Ink Storm Tattoo. If you can’t make it there, you can contact Baker to arrange for supplies to be picked up.