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Travelogue: A lifetime illustrated

by Betul Duru - Copy Editor
Tue, Oct 29th 2019 01:55 pm
The work of two artists is currently on display at Tower Fine Arts. The mixed media art work explores the travel and interests of the long-time friends. Burton's wall of envelopes and postcards (below) is one of several featured pieces.
The work of two artists is currently on display at Tower Fine Arts. The mixed media art work explores the travel and interests of the long-time friends. Burton's wall of envelopes and postcards (below) is one of several featured pieces.

Art lovers gathered in Tower of Fine Arts on Thursday, Oct. 24, to meet Fred Burton, a mixed media artist, world traveler and educator, as well as Steve Gerberich who is self-described as an “alchemist of odds and ends” for a reception for their new exhibit.

Before the reception, there was an artist’s talk where Burton had the chance to show his “progression from point A to point Z.” The talk started with Burton and Gerberich discussing their extraordinary encounter and friendship of more than 20 years. Burton referred to coming across artists when he was younger.

“Big-time artists would come and give their slide [show] about their artist life but they never talked about how they lived or what their influences were,” Burton said. “That was the one thing that I wanted to do differently and show my life story which is what it is.”

When Burton decided to advance his career in art, he said he “realized that [he] didn’t have any experience,” and that his art “wasn’t good enough.” 

“But I still wanted to make it as an artist,” Burton said.

According to Burton, he decided to travel and gain experience from different cultures. 

On display at Tower Fine Arts until Nov. 15 is Fred Burton and Steve Gerberich’s Shared Curiosity exhibit, featuring various art pieces from both artists. All Burton’s work is “series grouped around specific themes with different meanings.” According to him, his art is an “attempt at distilling important events” in his life. 

Burton’s first work on display was the wall of decorative envelopes and postcards he sent to Gerberich throughout the years. 

“He would send me these decorated envelopes and postcards,” Gerberich said. “Sometimes five a week, sometimes 10.” 

The second grouped series is Burton’s Frida Kahlo-inspired portraits. There are five recently-made mixed media on paper portraits inspired by Kahlo. 

“The one the thing that stuck in my mind was when [Kahlo] died they were going to cremate her, so her body was on this metal cart going into the crematorium,” Burton said. “When the door opened up the force of the flames made her body stand up and her hair burst into flames. So I did a whole series of portraits of Frida Kahlo with flames coming out of her head.” 

Gerberich started his career with a photography degree, but soon taught himself “the skills needed to create a series of mechanical systems.” Gerberich’s art consists of turning “discarded labor-saving devices” into “labor-intensive and complex structures.” 

The “Twittering Machine” is a piece inspired by Paul Klee’s painting of the same name. The piece is a construction of various objects, including a sewing machine, lightbulb and a monkey. According to Gerberich “taking everything apart and figuring it out” is where the fun lies.

Nick Kirsop, a student at The College of Brockport said he enjoyed the exhibit.     “I like the flying mailbox the most” Kirsop said. “It reminds me of Gmail.” 

Burton leaves artists with one recommendation. 

“Get the skill and then have influence, whether it’s another writer or other artists, nobody comes out of zero,” Burton said. 

Burton also said work should be fulfilling.

“You have to have something that excites you and makes you want to work and makes you want to go beyond whoever came before, and to have mentors.” Burton said.  

The exhibit is open until Nov. 15 for anyone who wants to take a look. People who walk through the exhibit will be able to look through the eyes of two artists and see the impact an active imagination combined with the want to go forward. 

Photo of the Week

Taken by Mathieu Starke, staff photographer

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