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Street Painting Man

Erik Burke’s “Building on Building” exhibition brings the streets to the gallery.
“Building on Building,” featuring art by New York based street artist Erik Burke, runs through June 18.
“Building on Building,” featuring art by New York based street artist Erik Burke, runs through June 18.


Buildings on Buildings

Where: XYandZ, 3258 Minnehaha Ave. S.

When: Now through June 18

Cost: Free

 A totaled police car. Wooden boards. A chipped window frame. These are just a few things youâÄôll see at XYandZâÄôs âÄúBuildings on BuildingsâÄù exhibit by Brooklyn artist Erik Burke.

Burke âÄî who is known by his graffiti moniker Over Under âÄî is an artist of a different breed. His latest solo exhibition brings gritty city art from the street to the pedestal, opposed to his usual practice of taking made-at-home portraits and placing them onto the walls of buildings.

In a nutshell, âÄúBuilding on BuildingâÄù is exactly what it sounds like. Comprised of a dozen pieces, Burke retools his inner-city portraits for the art gallery circuit. After collaborating with two-man art unit Broken Crow in 2009, BurkeâÄôs intrinsic knack for grimy cityscapes caught the eye of XYandZ program director and co-founder Mike Bishop.

   Using old doors as mounts, butcher paper and acrylic paint, Burke leaves his work unframed, allowing the pieces to evolve naturally like they would on the street. The bulk of his work portrays decrepit multistory buildings replete with human appendages and poetic phrases. Sometimes itâÄôs absurdist, other times itâÄôs as grim and sullen as a Norman Rockwell painting.

Bishop said as a director he enjoyed witnessing BurkeâÄôs artistic process and tailoring his pieces to give them more of a gallery feel.

âÄúI liked the installation elements of it âĦ adding the hoods and the doors and turning into more than just hanging pieces on the wall âÄî finding ways to give the indoor show a more outdoor feel,âÄù Bishop said.

BurkeâÄôs pieces arenâÄôt visually earth-shattering and they donâÄôt strive for realism; theyâÄôre zany and borderline cartoonish. But they also have their poignant moments. Several of the buildings depict tenants and eyes peering out windows, appearing afraid of the world outside.

âÄúThereâÄôs a little bit more behind his work, heâÄôs not just throwing up the same tag or the same word over and over again,âÄù Bishop said. âÄúI really liked the interpretation of buildings being where people hide themselves and everyone trying to break loose from that.âÄù

Kate Iverson, creative director for Permanent Art and Design Group,  commented on BurkeâÄôs penchant for consistency as well as stylistic range.

âÄúLooking at them, you wouldnâÄôt realize itâÄôs from the same artist, unless you were able to see all the same elements,âÄù Iverson said.

Burke isnâÄôt insular either. HeâÄôs comfortable stepping outside his comfort zone, reaching out to fellow artists all around the word. HeâÄôs currently en route to Germany and wasnâÄôt available for an interview.

âÄúHeâÄôs worked with so many artists that his ability to collaborate with so many people is really appealing,âÄù Bishop said. âÄúHeâÄôs kind of like the artistsâÄô artist.âÄù

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