Retired Orthopaedic Surgeon Turned Artist Shows Gratitude to UAMS Orthopaedics with Art Donation

By Andrew Vogler

The session was straightforward — paint an abstract piece on canvas with acrylics. To accommodate his wife, Bacon participated in the lesson and, to his surprise, enjoyed it immensely. It was certainly a pleasant discovery, but he never expected that the lesson would spark his second career.

“I was really surprised how much I enjoyed that private lesson, I mean, I never really enjoyed art class when I was a kid, so I assumed I wouldn’t like painting as an adult,” said Bacon. “After that day I was hooked, and soon found myself completely immersed in painting. I still smile at the idea of a doctor becoming a professional artist.”

Bacon, born in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, attended the University of Oregon Medical School where he received his medical degree in 1983, leading to a 30-plus year career as a successful orthopaedic surgeon working in Oregon and Hawaii, and eventually moving to Birmingham, Alabama, to retire.

In truth, his wife was the art buff in the family. Born in Stuttgart, Arkansas, Beverly Claire Bacon received an art minor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. It was from her that he developed a better appreciation for art, eventually collecting pieces together for their personal collection. However, immersed in the schedule and responsibilities of a surgeon, it never occurred to Bacon that art would be something to pursue himself. When Bacon returned home from the Santa Fe trip, he enrolled in two online painting classes from the Art Academy University in San Francisco.

Under the moniker Bacon Modern, Bacon pursued his art career with the same enthusiasm as he did his medical career, often seeing many parallels between the two. Using bold color and unbroken movement, Bacon paints striking abstracts that possess strong depth, creating highly engaging pieces. He has exhibited his work in the U.S. and Europe, and he has also been featured in art magazines and blogs.

“When I paint, I am inspired by the process of creating something new,” said Bacon. “I like to play pop music quite loudly, which gives me energy, and as I paint, a momentum develops which carries through to the painting process. While painting, I become so wrapped up in it that I often do not stop until the work is complete — I do not want to lose the momentum.”

Though seeing much success in his new career, Bacon knew that he’d eventually have to put it on hold for a time to deal with chronic hip pain, knowing that he needed a double hip replacement. It was through his wife that Bacon met Lowry Barnes, M.D., chair of the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, as Beverly Claire Bacon was longtime friends with Tanya Barnes, the two meeting when they worked together at Riceland Foods.

“It’s been a real joy to get to know Lowry over the years — we met through our wives, and obviously as orthopaedic doctors we had a lot of in common, but I think it extended to a lot of mutual interests as well,” said Bacon. “When I was thinking about who would perform my surgery, I didn’t have to think too much about it because I have complete trust in Dr. Barnes.”

Barnes performed the surgery in 2021 at UAMS.

To show his gratitude and to help with the opening of The Orthopaedic & Spine Hospital at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), Bacon asked Barnes to pick out a piece of artwork to hang in the new hospital. The painting Barnes selected, “Joyful Reunion,” depicts figures interacting in a joyful and celebratory manner, using “movement and color to create an energetic atmosphere.”

“I am grateful to Dr. Bacon for donating this incredible painting and honored to display it for everyone who is cared for and works at our hospital every day,” said Barnes. “The presence of art promotes improved health and well-being and positively impacts the overall patient and family experience.”

In June, Bacon presented the painting to Barnes and toured the new facility while he was at UAMS.

“I am glad I was able to tour the new orthopaedic hospital prior to its opening — technologically it is state of the art, in addition to being a truly beautiful, modern facility, which will be appreciated by patients and providers alike,” said Bacon. “It creates a peaceful environment, which will help patients with the anxieties associated with medical care. I am glad that I was able to contribute to the patients’ healing process.”