Barton Lewis was born into a family of artists in Urbana, Illinois, and started making films in the fourth grade after his parents gave him a Super 8 movie camera. After graduating high school from the North Carolina School of the Arts he moved to New York where he received a B.M. from The Juilliard School, studying music composition with Roger Sessions and Milton Babbitt. He then went on to receive a B.A. in English literature from Columbia University.
Barton briefly pursued a career in musical theater after college, but devoted himself to filmmaking full-time after purchasing a 16mm movie camera in the 1990s. His films deal with natural light and its interaction with various materials and elements, such as metal, wood and water, and with the urban industrial landscape. The first public showing of his work was at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in November 2005. In June 2010 he had a one man show at the Millennium Film Workshop. His film "East River Pavilion, Upper East Side, New York City" was shown at the Portland (OR) Film Festival in May, 2012; and "a building" was shown on the street in Paris in a public exhibition by ArtTv in November 2012.