“There is just something about this town that I love.”
Landscape painter Chris Burk is discussing his fascination with Columbus. We are seated in Tacocat Cooperative in Grandview, which houses his personal studio. Miles Davis is playing softly in the background.
“Music has to be on while I’m working,” he explains. “It can be any kind. The more random the better.”
There are a series of three canvases depicting telephone poles and networks of cable positioned on easels before him. They are part of his latest series titled Connected Columbus – and like most of his work, it is inspired by his hometown.
“I left Columbus and went to live in New York for several years, but, oddly, it was not until I came back home that I truly discovered myself as an artist. You might say the city is my muse.”
Clad in a purple t-shirt, a gray hoodie, jeans, and a comfortable looking pair of shoes, Burk looks like he is ready to go out walking, as he often does, through the city, looking for interesting subjects to snap pictures of with his iPhone.
“I love the variation in the neighborhoods,” he said. “Each one is a little different but there are interesting landmarks and architecture in all of them. No matter how many times I look at a place like German Village, or Clintonville, I can always find something new – unique forms and compositions that most people would walk right past.”
Burk likes to focus on subjects around Columbus that are so mundane, most of us pass them daily, but rarely stop to look at them. “I don’t do typical features of Columbus – the major landmarks. I like to steer away from that.” He zeros in instead on the things most of us take for granted, like skylines, rooftops, water towers, and such.
Although many of Burk’s pieces depict the suburbs, cityscapes are his favorite subjects. “I’m primarily an urban landscape painter. I have always had a love affair with the landscape and even more so with cityscapes,” he said. “I grew up in the humdrum of suburbia – you know, the lawns and all that. Because of that, the inner city has always represented something new and exciting for me.”
Mundane as they may be, Burk’s subjects are surprisingly recognizable. “People really seem to enjoy trying to figure out where they have seen them – what part of town they are located in. I like to keep them guessing.” No matter what part of the city they depict, his paintings remind viewers that beauty can be found in the most unexpected places.
“We all see things differently,” he said. “If I can present things in a way that opens up peoples’ minds and allows them to see the world around them with a new perspective, than I have done my job.” •
Burk’s pieces are on continuous display at Brandt Roberts Gallery (642 N High St.) in the Short North, Tuesday – Saturday 11-5 p.m. and Sunday 12 – 4 p.m. For more, visit www.christopherburk.com.