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John Burk Fine Art Biography & Resume

What makes a painter?  In the case of nine year-old John Burk, it was very likely his best friend’s father, a partner and illustrator in a successful commercial art studio.  “He invited me into his home to sit next to his easel for as long as I wished while he painted US Lines’ fleet of ocean liners on the high seas.  These paintings were commissioned to be reproduced as posters, ad illustrations and on backs of card decks.”

John would spend hours watching intently as this artist rendered hulls and superstructures, laid in billowing clouds and cresting waves.  “To keep me interested, he would paint lifeboats being lowered or drifting alongside, adding circling sharks, periscopes and torpedo wakes, seaplanes or other fanciful details, then paint them out again.  Thinking back, he did this so deftly and well, I am still filled with awe.”

John was born in Baltimore in 1945.  By the age of ten, he was constantly drawing.  As a teenager, he painted in watercolors.

He studied at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art as an advertising design/creative communications major, married and began a career as an ad agency art director.  He would eventually hire his best friend’s father to illustrate for him.

A half dozen years into his career, Burk spent five years filling sketchbooks in professor Kimon Nicholaides' (Art Students' League, New York) regimen of gesture sketches and contour drawings.  To this day draftsmanship, capturing form, texture and light, are important aspects of his paintings.

Years of easel painting followed, slowly working out in acrylics on canvas techniques and a vision of what he wanted his paintings to be.  His primary influencers were N.C. Wyeth and Edward Hopper.  Wyeth’s work excited John as a boy, portraying a drama and stagecraft, his favorites being Wyeth’s illustrations for Treasure Island.  “These illustrations told the story as wonderfully as the text.”  Much has been said about Hopper, but particularly important to Burk is the way Hopper would bring light into a room, or the way he would model the form of a structure or a row of brick storefronts.

Burk had his first gallery relationship a decade later in Manhattan.  The owner of Christopher Gallery, one block off Central Park South, saw promise and made him one of his new gallery artists, featuring him in a number of group shows.

Burk was winning grants and fellowships, and was exhibiting in juried shows in the Mid-Atlantic region, including Baltimore and Washington throughout the 80’s and 90’s.

A private exhibition of work in 2003, benefiting the Virtu Foundation*, established John as a landscape painter specializing in the New England seacoast with its pine-fringed rock ledges and tide-washed rocky shores.

“I have always appreciated places that inspire a quiet awe or instill a peace; places that speak of time and timelessness, places that convey at once a sense of solitude and of being one of generations of travelers past this spot.”

These “places” are often at the edge of land and sea, but a friend’s move to the Southwest introduced a whole new landscape for Burk to explore.  Clear air and bright light, big sky and open land, folded and broken mountains of desert-varnished boulders became the subjects of a number of paintings.  His plans include a return to this subject matter to enlarge his portfolio of Southwest work.

Burk continues to paint the Atlantic Coast and its settlements from the Mid-Atlantic to the Jersey Shore and northward to New England.  Plans include coastal subjects to the south as well.   Obviously, the seacoast continues to be a big attraction for John.  “While I am painting, I am in that place on vacation, any morning, afternoon or evening, or season of the year.”

Reviews of John’s work have consistently made the same observations: 'his compositions are powerful and compelling, combining strong design and unexpected composition with painterly technique and atmospheric quality.  These paintings command your attention across a room.'  A collector has said of a painting he owns, “I go for a walk in those woods, passing those foreground rocks every day after work.”

“These places are special.” John says.  “My aim is to capture them as they are, to create allusions of sound, touch and smell, which can only be hinted at with color on canvas.  Stand here awhile.  Smell the spice in the air, feel the heat of the sun, hear the rustle of grass or riffling waters.  If I have done what I set out to do, my work has caught your gaze and put you in this other place for the moment.”

*Virtu Foundation has two missions: to place musical instruments in the hands of disadvantaged city children, and to create and sustain a system of tutors and training orchestras to develop their abilities and provide them with performance venues.

John Burk Exhibitions & Commissions, Grants & Awards:

2013 Representation by Xanadu Gallery, Scottsdale AZ 

2013 Representation by Carteret Contemporary Art, Morehead City NC 

2013 Representation by Artists’ House Gallery, Philadelphia PA

2013 'New Faces' Group Show, Artists’ House Gallery, Philadelphia PA 

2013 Solo Show, Irvine Nature Center, Owings Mills MD

2013 Group Show, David Simpson Gallery, Hunt Valley MD

2012 'Breakers, Beach, Boardwalk', a solo show at David Simpson Gallery, Hunt Valley MD

2012 Portrait commission of a figure and seascape, private collection, Manchester NH

2012 'Art Matters in Maryland' & 'Dinner with the Artists', a juried show benefiting Northern Baltimore County Art Foundation

2012 'Art Happens Here', a juried show of the Hampton Arts Initiative, benefiting Historic Hampton Mansion, Towson MD

2010 Representation by Sheldon Fine Art Gallery, Newport RI

2010 Representation by Diliberto Gallery, Baltimore MD

2010 Commission of an interior landscape, private collection, Ruxton MD

2009 Commission of 3 architectural landscapes, Church of the Good Shepherd, Ruxton MD

2008 'American Landscapes', a juried national exhibition, MFA Circle Gallery, Annapolis MD

2004-08 Representation by N.W. Barrett Gallery, Portsmouth NH

2004 Gallery International, Baltimore MD, a juried exhibition of The Maryland Federation of Art

2003 A Private Solo Show benefiting Virtu Foundation, Ruxton, Maryland

1986 A landscapes show, Gormley Gallery, College of Notre Dame, Baltimore MD

1983 'Scape (Land-Sea-City)', a juried exhibition of the City of Baltimore School #33 Gallery, Baltimore MD

1983 'Making Waves, an Exhibit of Marine Art', Life of Maryland Gallery, Baltimore MD

1982 Maryland Annual Exhibition, Maryland General Assembly Building, Annapolis MD

1982 Purchase of landscape by Federal Reserve Bank, Baltimore Branch

1982 Maryland Tourism Award - Poster artwork

1980 Maryland Arts Council Fellowship Award

1980 Maryland Chapter Artists Equity Assoc. juried exhibition, Rockville MD

1980 'Art For Art's Sake'. a corporate exhibition, RM&D, Baltimore MD

1978-1980 Representation by Christopher Gallery, New York NY


Education: Philadelphia Museum College of Art


Currently represented in Newport RI at Sheldon Fine Art, 59 America’s Cup Avenue, Newport, RI. 401.849.0030. www.sheldonfineart.com; in Philadelphia at Artists’ House Gallery, 57 N. Second Street, Philadelphia PA 19106. www.artistshouse.com; in Morehead City NC at Carteret Contemporary Art, 1105 Arendell Street, Morehead City NC 28557. www.twogalleries.net; in Scottsdale AZ at Xanadu Gallery, www.xanadugallery.com/Art/ArtistGallery.asp?ArtistID=3613.

In private and corporate collections in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Germany.

Registered with the Visual Resource File of the Maryland Arts Council, Baltimore and Washington Project for the Arts, Washington DC.


Address: 11846 Mays Chapel Road, Timonium, Maryland 21093.  www.johnfburk.net/paintings  Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 410.913.2815.