Sculptures, Bronze, Wood, & Stone
ARTIST STATEMENT FOR RESILIENT - AVIAN RAPTOR SERIES
The complexity of the human situation is exhausting. Each person places some kind of spin on reality to better support their own beliefs, feelings and actions. The enormous diversity of perceptions and experiences create a myriad of gaps in our basic understanding of the world. People believe many false truths. We humans rehearse our fabricated reality like a mantra until even we believe it. Discord and endless arguing are justified by every party in order to sell that constructed reality to the naïve. The loud and belligerent win the day. This has long damaged the integrity of true character.
I have always preferred the simplicity of nature. As a child I was exposed to falconry and a fascination with birds of prey. The birds I observed were true to themselves. They have nothing to sell. Even a tiny kestrel is sure of its place and concise in its purpose. In many cultures owls are an archetype of wisdom and fortune, in others a harbinger of death. But they don’t know or care about any of that. In reality they hunt, mate, raise their young and migrate. They contemplate staying safe, warm and fed. The fragile will die. In many ways I envy the natural virtues of these noble creatures over our own fickle contrived values.
My work is about resilience of character. I considered attributes of being resilient as opposed to those of being fragile. As this body of work progressed I began to interpose human expressions and stances on the birds represented. I want the confident at-ease posture of a screech owl to convey assurance. The relaxed expression of the short-eared owl is meant to communicate inner tranquility. Balance is intuited in the barn owl.
As the human race whines, screams and shouts about their insecurities, which were caused by everyone else, birds of prey will quietly stay true to themselves. We may kill them off, but the last one, in defiance, will hunt like a true hero.
SCULPTURES - BRONZE, WOOD, & STONE
Richard Burke grew up in central Oregon and the Flathead Valley of Northwest Montana. From his earliest memories he was absorbed with discovering and drawing everything in the natural world. The beauty, tranquility and drama of the mountains and forests have always captivated him. Exploring countless wild places instilled in him a poignant desire to capture and communicate fleeting light and ever-changing atmospheric conditions; a longing to hold to that experience and appreciate it forever. In painting, he desires to seize and revere nature’s ever varying harmonies of light and space. For Richard, an early morning spent on a forested stream bank is the ideal retreat. Considered a self-taught artist, Richard’s formal education was in Religious Studies. He worked as a minister for almost two decades, but he continued painting, carving and sculpting in every available moment. For years Richard carved decoys for Ducks Unlimited and captured many bird species in wood sculpture. Eventually it occurred to him, if he had a day where he could do anything in the world, he would go to the mountains and paint. It was his desire to focus on painting landscapes fulltime which pulled Richard away from all other pursuits. Currently, he is fully dedicated to painting landscapes in oil. Richard long appreciated great western artists C.M. Russell and Thomas Moran for their interpretation of the vast western landscape. Equally significant in influence are some contemporary painters such as Terry Miura and Brian Rutenberg, who convey a sense of place in a more loose and painterly fashion. Majestic stands of trees and reflections in clear water are the characteristic subjects of Richard's work. Burke prefers to work tonally with a limited palette, but it is the way he utilizes the palette knife which makes his style truly unique.