With his latest BRG exhibition, “Omond’s Blue Water,” James Burke finds inspiration in a 500-mile expedition led by Minnesotan Sigurd F. Olson through the great rivers and lakes of Northwest Canada in the 1950s. The six men on the trip traveled the routes taken by French fur trappers by canoe. Among these men was Canadian Omond Solandt whose primary responsibility was navigation. Burke’s paintings imagine another “Omond” and focus on two of the constants that define his experience – the water and the horizon. Ultimately, the paintings are made from visual references, memories (both near and distant), imaginings and - best of all - reactions to things that happen when one color, idea, or image bumps into another by accident.
One of eight founding artists of the Unit 8 Gallery in 1965, which would become Baton Rouge Gallery just a year later, Burke is one of the most influential contemporary arts figures in South Louisiana and is Professor Emeritus at Louisiana State University. He earned his Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa in 1963 and since that time his work has been exhibited in over 100 exhibitions across the United States. His work is also featured in numerous collections, both public and private, including the New Orleans Museum of Art, The Mint Museum (Charlotte, NC), the North Country Museum of Arts (Park Rapids, MN) and The Dulin Galleries (Knoxville, TN).