Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sublime Search

The sun and cold of the morning penetrates my sleep as routine of the mind wakes me. I am waffling between getting up and making coffee or reading. I choose to read. Chapter six of Styron’s, Sophie’s Choice is merciless in it’s description of the evilness of Höss and the Auschwitz concentration camp. I can only read one chapter. The house is October cold and I build a fire of cottonwood, then brew a half pot of fresh Colombian. While I make oatmeal with apples I listen to Prokofiev’s Symphony No.1 in D, Opus 25 and then sit down to the strange absent eyes of Modigliani portraits. Seated next to the fire, eating oatmeal and leafing through the long necks and somber stares of these wonderful painting I feel the buzz of Colombian and head for the computer to work on Dick’s blog.

Charcoal, Seated Man on Stool, 24x36, Signed R. O. Burg, Courtesy of Peter Burg

As the computer boots up I can’t help but reflect on my luck to have enjoyed such a rich artistic life. My miniscule place in history has been safe you might say. Growing up in post W.W. II and just missing Vietnam, I have had the luxury of a comfortable life, not that I didn’t see or know about many of the catastrophic and monumental events of the world as riots, banks failures, mass murderers, environmental tragedies, space walks, assassinations, and scientific achievements, but mostly peace. I grew up in a nice house in an aspiring neighborhood, good for kids that afforded many opportunities for culture, friends and education. I was fortunate and had a good start. There are no complaints just new observations.

Pastel, Lakeside House, 12x14, Unsigned by Burg, Courtesy of Peter Burg

Still Life with Bread, 24x30, Oil Masonite, Framed, Signed by Dick Burg, Courtesy of Peter Burg

I am experiencing an evaluation of my own life as I peer into and study the intricacies of my fathers life. Things and occurrences that I have buried or forgotten, ignite the fuse of reflection that I am going through. There is a resurgence of appreciation that is happening here. The good and bad that I lived through in the family environment, seem to merge into less harsh colors as time goes on. The proverbial mellowing with age. I came late in the Burg family, fifteen years into the unit, and there is much I missed. I was oblivious to the early blissful marital time of Dick and Betty prior to the onslaught and weight of five children and before I knew anything of the social pressures that can dictate the behavior and attitudes of a couple and the ramifications that can ensue, or for that matter the inner core of the humans that were my parents. What made them tick? Who were they? I probably will never know fully and I don’t care because I’ve gotten to know enough to see that they did the best they could. They were examples of humans and, as we all know, humans are imperfect by some standard of celestial perfection but nevertheless perfect in an earthly sense.

Burg Family, October 1977, Back Row Left to Right, Richard Burg Jr., Melissa, Betty, Laura, Dick. Front Row, Patty and Peter.

The “sublime search” comes to mind day after day as I enter each painting, photograph, and snippet of background information. A relentless search, not so much for the “truth”, but of the profoundly interesting quality of how interwoven all thing are, and how they all contribute to the “glorious” whole of life.
I distinctly remember one time when my father remarked to me, while he was relaying some anecdote regarding something or other, about my lackadaisical attitude. “Aren’t you interested?” he said. It was like he hit me with a hammer. Those three words rather than “I love you” stayed with me like a tattoo on the brain. It wasn’t so much that I wasn’t “interested”, but rather, he was. There is no more efficient teacher than example. It hardly mattered that he was not interested in everything, for who can be, but interested in a balanced variety of things that would benefit the development of anyone. From then on, maybe out of spite, my own search began.

#138 Sunday Morning, 18x24, Oil on Masonite, Framed, Signed by Dick Burg, Courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Kieran Hughes.

As I enter artifact, sketch, or fact regarding his career, I can see his search clearly, each avenue of interest and how he applied it to the whole create the superb portrait of the man. This development and evolution of the man through visual art is fantastic. The sketches, the paint strokes, the studies, the paintings, the subjects categories, and all the mortar of living between it create an example of the solid edifice of a man in search.

Dick and Betty 1944.

This blog began more on impulse and the excitement of acquiring several paintings from relatives in the east. But as it progressed it has evolved into more of “coming to terms” with the body of work that is left in my charge. It has been a silent burden in a way. Something undealt with. I guess one has to fit it in, make it work, see some value, get motivated, find reasons , or get interested. I love art and I love my fathers work. It is the zeitgeist for me. I have fallen into the lure of personal clarification and nostalgia. It is the perspective of my artistic heritage that interests me most. I have pursued visual art with a degree in Graphic Design and my three sisters all have degrees in the Visual Arts. Even my brother has dabbled in the absolution of oil painting. This legacy I am sure was handed down to us through example by The Artist Dick Burg.

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