OBurke Art and Music's featured artist is best known for design and production of his captivating string instruments, renowned Portraitchairs™, sought after abstract paintings, mixed media, and sculptures since the 1970s.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, the artist demonstrated his artistic abilities at an early age, playing drums at four years of age. By the age of ten, he attended the prestigious Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan and was recognized as a prodigy.
Growing up in Detroit, the artist became fascinated by the notion the automobile could be endlessly redesigned. This fascination turned his attention to reinventing much smaller items later on, to include the guitar as one of his many artistic pursuits. Eventually, it evolved into designing and producing over 300 original and unique pieces, of which over 70 of these pieces are currently on display for inspiration and/or for acquisition.
The artist's family moved to San Diego in 1969. His parents were both interior designers in La Jolla. When his mother had the time between work and taking care of 5 children, she dabbled in art and would have art materials for the children to use. He credits growing up surrounded with art materials as his first toys... art and design magazines among his first reading materials.
Inspired by the music phenomena of the 1960s, the artist found an interest in everything musical and immediately focused his artistic passions playing music in bands and in recording studios. He still performs to this day while also building musical instruments and creating art in a variety of media.
By the late 1970s, the man with his fascination with music was also involved in the building industry where he found himself involved in all facets of home construction. It was at this time he acquired his woodworking skills. In his spare time, he found old broken guitars in thrift shops needing refurbishment. He went to work refurbishing these guitars while studying how they were designed and produced in detail.
One of his favorite passions he created is the Portraitchair™. A few of his Portraitchairs™ have been featured several times in the annual Del Mar Fine Arts show. In addition, he is a regularly participating artist in the "Design in Wood" show and has been for several years.
The artist’s precious pride and joy, The Purple Heart Ukulele, was featured in the 26th Anniversary Exhibition of Fine Woodworking — DESIGN IN WOOD — at the San Diego County Fair, 2007, within the Fair’s ever popular, “Salute to Heroes” themed exhibit. This particular year, the Purple Heart Ukulele, made of purpleheart wood, was a tribute to the recipients of the Purple Heart Medal. The Purple Heart Ukulele was the most emotional piece he had ever created.
Due to its recognized significance, the artist's Purple Heart Ukulele was requested at the last minute by the curator of the Museum of Making Music, Carlsbad, California to be entered and displayed in a very special exhibition called, "The Ukulele & You: America's Love Affair with the Ukulele." The Purple Heart Ukulele was on display from August 2007 to January 2008.
In 2009, another very special work of art grabbed the attention of the attendees at the Exhibition of Fine Woodworking. The artist created a very unique ukulele made from redwood cut 100 years before, and was a piece of the old Ellen Browning Scripps cottage in La Jolla.
In 2015, the artist created a very unique ukulele made from wood from the lily pond and lagoon (koi pond) in Balboa Park, San Diego, CA for the 1915 Balboa Park-themed wood show at the San Diego County Fair 2015, commemorating the centennial anniversary of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.
One of the special qualities of this artist is how he uses reclaimed materials in many of his creations. This quality can be seen in his Copper Sitar, his Coffee House Cruiser Drum Kit - Espresso Model T, and several other instruments. Much of the wood in his instruments has been reclaimed from demolished older buildings from his boyhood hometown of La Jolla, CA.
His work is found in many private and notable collections in Southern California and on the East Coast. In addition, his work has been exhibited in numerous exhibits and one-man shows and continues to be exhibited in noted cafes and a prominent real estate offices.
The artist currently owns his own studio gallery within Art on 30th in San Diego, where he exhibits his newest work. In addition, his work is currently on exhibit at the famous coffee and music venue, Java Joe's, located in hip Normal Heights, San Diego. He is currently working on his own dramatic line of cocktail drums, mesmerizing Portraitchairs™, and in his spare time, continues to paint dynamic abstracts and creates striking string instruments.