Bachelor of Science University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 1970
Master of Science Organic Chemistry, University of Manitoba, 1971
Medical Doctor (MD). University of Manitoba Medical School, 1976
Bachelor of Music (performance) Degree , ROYAL CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC, TORONTO
Learning the Language of Art
Gary E. Bachers never planned to become a visual artist. He was a popular family practice physician in northeast Texas, where he lived with his wife and three children after moving from Winnipeg, Canada, in 1977. In 1987, at the age of 38, he suffered a debilitating stroke that forced him to retire from medicine. The stroke robbed him of the ability to speak or produce conventional language (a condition called expressive aphasia), and he also lost the use of the right side of his body.
Part of Bachers' therapy after the stroke was to learn to hold a pencil in his left hand. After struggling to form words, he started fluently sketching flowers from his wife's garden. With colored pencils, he began perfecting his compositions, often depicting lilies, peonies, irises, and birds of paradise. In this new language uniquely suited to his condition and innate talents, Bachers' artworks evolved from simple sketches to meticulous and complex designs.
Bachers' chosen medium is Prismacolor pencils on polyester film. The film intensifies the color of the wax and permits Bachers to create his intricately executed blended layers with the smooth consistency of oil.
The circle or mandala has been a strong component in his work, initially appearing as rings in the spectacular floral creations and progressing to the focus on our universal moon. His signature motif, the full moon, hovers above flowers, human figures, insects, and architecture.
At once pleasing design and moving symbolism, the moons call to mind not only man's place in the cosmos, but also the force that turns the tide. Lizards, chameleons, and praying mantises often hide in the labyrinthine compositions. In later works these creatures sometimes take more
central positions, assuming almost human characteristics as they gaze from domestic interiors.
The focus of a recent series of works was trees. Monumental, barren branches, often arching over water and framing full moons, recall the symmetry of his earlier ring designs. The trees seem ancient, rooted and thriving, and yet leafless, autumnal.
Another group of pieces explores the simple yet intricate beauty of leaves. Crystalline patterns of foliage frame moons and lizards, infusing the compositions with undulating greens and interwoven networks of layered images.
Exhibits of Bachers’ work have been titled “Silent Conversations,” a phrase referring both to his loss of speech and to each composition’s ability to express ideas and feelings beyond linguistic expression. Having lost conventional means of communication, Bachers learned this new language, as richly articulate as speech, as universal as the moon.