ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Multimedia artist Mick Burson, is exhibiting mixed media works in “Wend” a solo installation at the Richard Levy Gallery through Dec. 16.
Though Burson recently earned his MFA at the University of New Mexico he has already executed murals all over the world including the largest mural in New Mexico at the Keshet Dance Center for the Arts and a smaller one on the rear exterior wall of the Richard Levy Gallery. Burson also has an impressive exhibition record.
Burson’s artist statement says he feels constrained by 2D surfaces and often resorts to combined surfaces that fall somewhere between painting and sculpture. Among his aesthetic ancestors is David Smith who spent his career blurring the lines between sculpture, drawing and painting.
Burson’s show includes collage, constructions, large and small stand-alone sculpture and paintings informed by surrealistic whimsy, thoughtfulness, a toybox palette, a touch of sarcasm and a sense of place.
Each piece is a record of a passing memory of a site-specific experience. In “Wagon Painting,” Burson evokes the collective memory of the iconic red wagon that many of us had as children. They were cargo carriers, downhill coasters and served as empty bottle delivery systems for the recycling pennies paid at the local stores which were immediately re-invested at the candy counter.
The “Wagon Painting” is a combination of relief sculpture and flat panel that emblemizes a childhood holy grail of sorts, analogous to the sled named Rosebud in the “Citizen Kane” movie saga.
In a tragically poignant moment Burson created “Dad left for a pack of cigarettes 30 years ago,” a wheeled construction that becomes a metaphorical search vehicle to locate an absent parent.
The enigmatic sculpture alludes to abandonment but without further narrative the viewer makes their own story that could easily end with “…and he returned an hour later”.
In “Sleeping Chair,” Burson has an answer to a seldom if ever asked query, what do chairs do at night when not in use? The high-back chair droops over backwards much like the melting clocks in Salvador Dali’s 1931 “The Persistence of Memory” painting.
The Chair’s pose that would be the envy of a Yoga master seduces the viewer into a dream time revelry.
In “Chair Stair,” Burson pasted row after row of individual chairs onto a square format with the exception of a lone white chair with black stripes that fell to the bottom on the left side. The little reject lies facedown as if ashamed of being the misfit. For the 84 chairs arranged in six rows of 14 each the lonely 85th chair goes unnoticed.
The Little Match Girl, Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree, the artist and the shaman are all misfits that remind us that we are all alone within.
Burson’s assemblage “Everything I should have done instead of this” may be a nod to Ivan Albright’s painting “That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do (The Door)” 1931-1941. Albright’s decade-long rueful painting chronicles the obligations in our lives rather than our wants or even needs.
“Tall Shopper” is a cool drawing of a child-style rendering of a cart and though empty carries a load of humor and beautifully expressive pencilwork.
In “Trash bag” we find a city’s-worth of architectonic leftovers in nifty colors and joyful abandon. It’s one of my favorite pieces.
Burson pays nocturnal homage to travels by sea and land in the dark, with the four part “Ship in the Night” and “Late Night Drive” works on canvas and paper. Both 2D renderings share a kinship with Burson’s “Sleeping Sailboat” a classy construction worthy of any surrealist living or dead.
Super show, don’t pass it by.