Sunday, August 29, 2010

Imagination Is Everything

From Dick Burg's Scrap Book which he pasted drawings in a Ritz Carlton Restaurant Hisory Book.


Dick kept a 6x3½ cartoon book and collected characters like a musician collects melodies. It is almost over whelming to sort through this multitude of images and to select ones that best demonstrate his skill. By the time Dick was 9 he was studying characters from “Oh Skin-nay! The Days of Real Sport by Briggs (1913). He also worked out of the Step-by-Step system of the Thorton Fisher School of drawing pamphlet.


From grammar school and then the progression to cartoonist of the school newspaper at Roosevelt High then business major at Westminster College is interesting. The idea of having a fall back plan in the business world as opposed to becoming an artist was probably wise, seeing how he graduated at the time of the great depression.

Dick Burg age 12.

Dick’s ambition was not to gain riches from his art, but to be able to “do art”. I think he was considered a quiet artist. One who loves the solitude of creation. It became his escape from the business world and the tensions of family life.
From 6x3½ cartoon book.

The Frog-Man 1920 by Dick Burg

I think my Dad invisioned himself an artist from early on. He saw it, drew it and became it.


Pen and Ink, circa 1923, Restored

In these pen and ink drawings, the fluidity and deftness of stoke with which Dick produced is apparent. The details, tie pins, bandages, pipes, hats, clothing styles of the day are wonderfully emphasized.

As a young cartoonist Dick was honing his talent for subtle visual humor and developing the "quick story telling" so important in successful cartooning. These traits would later manifest in his more mature works as a painter.

Most of the drawings I discovered are done on materials at hand such as construction paper, school rule, and typing paper. There were several done on his father stationary, with the letter head that read, Oscar W. Burg & Co., Manufacturer’s Agent, Leather Trades Building, 1602 Locust Street, St. Louis. Phone: MAIN 825.


I will never begrudge him for being a pack-rat. If he were not so disciplined, organized, and obsessive in keeping such objects, we would not now be enjoying them.


There is always the tough gristle of reason to regret as I thumb through these myriad memories. Missed opportunities to speak with my father about just as many topics that jump up and stare back at me as I up load picture after picture on the computer. His imagination and determination at 13 years old. The creation of cornball jokers, magicians, seedy nefarious swindlers, hayseeds, brawlers, and all around down and outers is amazing.

These pen and ink drawings come from archive material from the estate of Dick Burg and have been restored digitally to give a better appreciation of the high caliber technics Dick possessed at an early age and also give some perspective in regards to his later work.


Cartoon Club 1928

Dick Burg 1928 Rossevelt High School, St. Louis, MO.

Dick Burg 1928 Cartoon Club.

Dick Burg 1928, Lunch Room, Cartoons in Year Book.

Rough Rider, Roosevelt High School Newspaper, St. Louis MO. Feb 23, 1928.

Dick Burg Feb 15, 1929 The Kiss Kross News, The Rhodes' KRISS KROSS Corporation, St. Louis. MO.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Missouri Moonlite

Dick returned to his home state many times taking pictures and painting on location.
(Courtesy of Bill Englesmann estate)

Watercolor, Untitled, Rock Mesas

Dick explored water color regularly. A wonderful quickness in approach is evident. Whether these were done on sight is unknown.
(Courtesy of Bill Englesmann Estate)

Untitled, Sitting Ballerina

Another purloined from the basement studio.
Like many great historical artists, Dick has memorialized himself in the mirror for all to see.

The Tutu has a definite Nicoli Fetchin touch to it. Dick was an admirer of Fetchin's work.

Untitled, Still Life

This masterful still life was one of my father's favorites. It was in a show and another artist commented on Dick's execution of the work and how he handled the composition. From then on it hung over the buffet in the living room in the Palisades house for years.

Eloise Pommer

Portrait of Eloise Pommer, sister of Dick Burg.

Eloise's son, Bobby, to this day thinks it was not successful in capturing his mother's true likeness.
It may be that this is an early work indicated by the signiture, R. BURG.
(Courtesy of Bob Pommer)

Remember When

Excerpt from a letter to Dick Englesmann, from Peter Burg after a visit Ladue area of St. Louis MO. in July of 2010.

It is Thursday morning and you are probably on your way to Michigan. Wanted to update you on events the day I left. After loading my fathers paints from Belt Service, I took your advice and drove I 70 to I 270 to I 64 back to Linbergh Blvd. and arrived at Bob’s in no time at all.
Bob Pommer was on the internet mapping out the areas we would be visiting. We left Country Club near 11:30 AM and drove to Lafayette Park, off I 44. Got off at South Jefferson Ave., and we were lucky locating the first house just as we pulled up at 2233 Park Ave., this was the tall white three story structure. Next we located the red brick two story home at 1512 Mississippi. It is set back from the rest of the houses in the area, so it was a trick to find. I brought along the snapshots that were attached to the back of each painting.
Next on the list was to see Coplin Ave. We took Russell Ave. in Compton Heights, and went north on Compton Hill Pl. right next to Reservoir Park. Bob told me that Eloise learned how to play tennis there and how he played there as a young boy. Also told me how , during World War II, soldiers were stationed at the reservoir to prevent Germans from poisoning the water supply.
We preceded on to Coplin, which is now more a culdesac rather than an Avenue due to the construction of I 44. He explained that the south side of Coplin Ave. was where my father’s house, or rather Oscar Burg's house, was situated. He mentioned about how all the houses had small alleys behind them where the garages were located. We wove in and out of Coplain twice and entered several of those alley ways so I could get a feel for the lay of the area and observe the neighboring homes. The day was beautiful and all the little gardens were lush with greenery and flowers. I was trying to imagine my dad as a kid roaming the streets there.
After Coplin Ave. Bob told me that the Englesmann and Pommer lads lived in a more up scale neighborhood and some how hooked up with the Burg gals. This was the area of Longfellow Blvd. and Hawthorne Blvd. All the houses in this part were of very high architectural quality and lovely design with considerable German influences. In our ramblings Bob relayed information regarding Oscar Burg’s employment. First in a prosperous shoe business and how there was a disagreement which lead to his leaving the company and then his move into the insurance field.
Our next destination was to Roosevelt High (Home of the Roughriders) Just off South Compton Ave. where my father, Richard, attended school. It is an imposing edifice with its copper domes oxidized green…

2233 Park Ave., La Fayett Sqare 1984, St. Louis MO.,Photo by Dick Burg

2233 Park Ave is extremely interesting imagery. The snap shot indicates a scene from 1984, although the painting is a depiction of life in the 30’s or 40’s, rather stylized with cars out of an old Walt Disney cartoon. This is juxtaposed against a looming metropolis in the background…a nostalgic longing for the days of youth in a neighborhood once traversed by the artist.
2233 Park Ave., La Fayett Sqare, St. Louis MO., 1984,18x24. Acrylic on board, Framed, Signed by Dick Burg (Courtesy of Bob Pommer)

Snap shot were attached to the back of each painting
1512 Mississippi, La Fayette Sqare, St. Louis, MO., 1984 Photo by Dick Burg

The pair of paintings is indicative of the frame of mind of anyone who revisits old haunts from childhood…recapturing the setting and mood of times past.

"Remember When", 1512 Mississippi, La Fayette Sqare, St. Louis, MO., 1984, 20x24.Acrylic on Board, Framed, Signed by Dick Burg (Courtesy of Bob Pommer)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Harper's Ferry

After finding this photo on the internet I did some research and found out some pertinent information regarding Harper’s Ferry. This piece was from the estate of Robert Gumbiner, a physician and HMO pioneer who built the managed-care giant FHP and then used his fortune to found the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach. Clark Cierlak Fine Arts,14452 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA. handled the sale.

Brochure of the
67 Annual Gold Medal
May 9 - 21, 1976
Equitable Plaza
3435 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, Calif.
BURG, Dick 129. Harper's Ferry 3rd Place - Genre
BURG, Dick 130. Floral Honorable Mention - Still Life

Taken from Dick's Artist Brochure.

Discovered On E-bay

Copied from Dick's artist brochure. It was titled "Taxco Street".

Notice the subtle differences in these two paintings.

Recently found these two works on E-bay.
The seller is located in Pasadena, California.
A similiar picture was used on Dick's brochure

Please excuse the photo quality but I had to copy them from E-bay site.

"Third Generation", Oil, Signed by Dick Burg

Untitled, Oil, Signed by Dick Burg

The Burg House, circa 1970's

This is the house Dick purchased in 1951. Located at 887 Muskingum Avenue, Pacific Palisades, California. The family lived there until the mid '90's, Then it was sold, then raised, classified as a "Tear Down".

Untitled, Portrait of Woman

Like many artists, Dick ran the gamut of subject matter. The human form was given equal time. I have always thought this was one of his more successful works in portrait. The greens and reddish skin tones are extremely appealing.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Charcoal on paper

This sepia tone drawing was dicovered while going through odds and ends of material from the estate. The man could draw.
Portrait Profile, Charcoal on paper, 18x24, by Dick Burg

Hallmark 25 Year Club, Disneyland 1976, Dick Burg

This snap shot was taken during a luncheon at the Hallmark 25 Year Club in Disneyland 1976.
Dick had an account at Disneyland and he would get tickets for us kids all the time. I had the opportunity to have seen Walt Disney several time as a child and have ridden every ride there numerous times.

Profiles of Dick by a Friend

I was able to salvage these unique gems from the multitude of things in the estate regarding his artistic career. I am not familiar the the artist who did them but if anyone out there can recognize the artist's name please get back to me.
This is dated 1970
Interesting trivia. Dick loved to smoke his pipe but gave it up. This may be the time period when that occurred.

This is dated 1971

Desert Sentinel #99

Study for Desert Sentinel or related work by Dick Burg, Coutesy of Peter Burg.

A rather minimal subject matter but bold in its solidity of form. A nice example of Dick's more mature style. I have tried to include frames so viewers can get an idea of Dicks taste in framing.

Unfinished Work

This unfinished work adds some insight to how Dick blocked out his work and basic color scheme.

Untitled, Desert Wash

This is a great example of Dick's exploration of the dry desert air and its affect on viewing the distant jagged mountains.

Untitled, Desert Scapes from 1964

Both of these painting hung in my bedroom as an adolescent at the Palisades house. I sometimes accompanied my father on outings to Palm Desert and La Quinta back when there were grapefruit and date tree groves and he would paint and I would hike around catching desert iguanas and snakes. The trees are Creosote or Smoke trees.
Desert scape, 16x20, Oil on Canvas, framed, Signed Lower Right BURG '64

Desert scape, Wash with Tree, 18x24, Oil on Canvas,Framed, Signed BURG '64

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Untitled, Desert Scape

This desert scape was done while Dick was a member of the San Gabriel Fine Arts Association. The San Gabriel Fine Arts Association (SGFAA) is a non profit organization, founded in 1965 for the purpose of promoting traditional fine art in the community and to provide a venue for member artists to show their work. The association maintains a large group of over 200 members and represents all of Southern California and several states.
The San Gabriel Fine Arts Association has a long and impressive history. It began as The Art Guild in 1935 but was forced to close during World War II. In 1966 the Association reopened and has remained as a vital part of the arts community since that time. Such notables as Norman Rockwell, Frank Tenny Johnson, Arthur Beaumont, Sam Hyde-Harris, Los Angeles Times sketch artists Charles Owens, Clyde Forsythe, and Jack Wilkinson Smith, Karl Albert, Dan Toigo, Constance Marlow, Lester Bonar, Rosita Tseu, Lloyd Mitchell, and Darwin Duncan were among the first to exhibit with The Guild and/or The Fine Arts Association.

Untitled, Palm Desert

Dick and good friend and fellow artist, Karl Albert, used to paint in Palm Desert and La Quinta area many times together.

La Quinta, Palm Desert CA.1981

This fabulous piece came from the Bill Engelsmann estate in St. Louis Missouri. La Quinta, California was a regular stomping ground for Dick.
This work was in the Winston Churchill Memorial and Library in Fulton, MO, One Man Show during alumni weekend April 25 through May 2, 1984. Dick was there for the Westminster College 50th anniverary of his class.

Dick's business card was stapled to the back of the painting. Clearly indicates his letter printing style.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Artist Awards Business Men’s Art Institute

The BMAI is a non-profit corporation founded in 1930 and incorporated in 1943. Under the guidance of A. N. Slavick, a well known jeweler, the members purchased a beautiful turn of the century mansion in the mid forties. It was located near downtown Los Angeles. Money was raised in many ways including the sale of paintings, direct contributions and the purchase of 4% installment notes by the members.
This facility was to be the Institute's home for the next four decades. Over the years, it was a place where hundreds of men and women from all walks of life were able to meet and learn the fine art of painting regardless of ability. The organization's major focus has always been the amateur painter.
Professional instructors were and are retained to help and encourage the members in learning the basics of painting. Many of our members have gone on to become professionals in their own right. The Institute held regular art shows, painting demonstrations, and gallery tours. Field trips were held in the desert and at Laguna Beach on a regualr basis. Landscape painting outings were often held in the back lot of the old MGM Studio. All of these activities were open to any adult of good character who wanted to join with the organization.
That facility was sold in the late eighties when the area went into decline. After a long search, we purchased our current new home in the wonderful community of Montrose

Business Men’s Art Institute, Richard Burg , Artist of The Year, 3rd Pl., 1974-75

Business Men’s Art Institute, Dick Burg , Artist of The Year, 1st Pl., 1973-74

Business Men’s Art Institute, Dick Burg , Artist of The Year, 1st Pl., 1972-73