Jo Baer (Josephine Gail Kleinberg) was born August 7, 1929 in Seattle, Washington. Baer attended the University of Washington, Seattle from 1946 – 1949 and majored in Biology. In 1950, Baer moved to New York where she studied perceptual psychology and philosophy at the New School for Social Research from 1950 – 1953.
In 1953, Baer moved to Los Angeles, CA with her then husband, Richard Baer, a television writer. In 1957, Baer, began experimentation with an Abstract-Expressionist style, characterized by strong light-dark contrasts. In 1960, Baer returned to New York and married artist John Wesley. It is also during this time that she began to create more reductive, hardedge style paintings. During the summer of 1962, Baer began her first mature series of work and also meets fellow artists Dan Flavin and Donald Judd. In 1964, Baer was included in the group show, Eleven Artists, at the Kaymar Gallery, New York, organized by Flavin.