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Finding peace on the palette: Pair of Auburn artists featured at local shows
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Finding peace on the palette: Pair of Auburn artists featured at local shows

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A pair of Auburn artists — whose styles couldn't be any more different — will see their work go on display in their hometown this week.

First, the Cayuga Museum will host an opening reception Thursday for an exhibit of work by Kevin Burke. About 30 of Burke's pieces will be displayed and available for sale at the museum through May 12 as part of its CNY Emerging Artist Project, which will continue to feature a new artist every month through the end of the year.

Burke, 37, said he creates much of his work at concerts. As bands play at venues like the Westcott Theater or Auburn Public Theater, Burke takes in the experience and expresses himself on canvas. 

"I feel the music and translate that into my paintings," he said. "I just have to get it out of my head."

The result is often colorful, Burke said. At the Cayuga Museum, he will have black LED lights directed at some of his works to showcase the fluorescent colors he used to paint them. There will also be 3-D glasses available so patrons can see the vibrance of Burke's paintings differently. With so many colors stacked next to each other, he said, the glasses can lend his work more depth.

Burke, a graphic designer at A&M Graphics in Auburn, has been painting all his life and doing so at concerts for the past five or six years, he said. Though he's shown his work at a few exhibits, he continued, this week's marks his first in a museum. He praised the CNY Emerging Artist Project for providing him and other area artists the opportunity.

"It gives Auburn a different taste. There's a lot of the same stuff out there, but a lot of other stuff people haven't seen," he said. "This series is a good thing to promote that."

Opening Friday, next door to the museum at the Schweinfurth Art Center, will be a wider sampling of what's out there from New York artists: "Made in NY."

The annual show will open at the Auburn gallery alongside "Ill Fusions," a collection of digital collages with painting by Rochester Institute of Technology instructor Shane Durgee, and "The Accidental Tourist," an exhibit of work by Syracuse University art professor Tom Hall that examines the impact immigration has on the people who leave their country for safety and security elsewhere.

This year's "Made in NY" features 75 works by 58 artists, which were selected by a jury from 472 entries. Prizes, including a $1,000 Best in Show, will be announced Friday.

Cayuga County artists selected for the show include Tom Hussey, of Auburn, Kate Timm, of Sterling, and Brad Cole, of Auburn. Cole's piece is a 2015 oil on canvas, "Swan Song."

The painting depicts a young woman descending into water. Cole, 38, said it was his way of coping with his youngest sister, Michelle, entering a coma. She would later pass away.

"It was kind of tough to deal with, so I did what I normally do: I took off into my own world, with art, and used that to work through the situation," he said. "It's a way to escape reality."

For that reason, Cole gave the painting to his mother. And it was she who suggested he submit the work for "Made in NY," he said. He was surprised when it got him into the show for the first time.

Cole also paints portraits by commission — typically dogs and babies, he joked — and draws caricatures at bars, weddings and parties through a side business. Though "Swan Song" was a more personal piece of art, he said, all the work he creates in his photorealistic style has a similar positive effect on him.

"It's a therapy," Cole said. "It's very strange to be paid to do something you love, because it's not really work."

Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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I edit The Citizen's features section, Lake Life, and weekly entertainment guide, Go. I've also been writing for The Citizen and auburnpub.com since 2006, covering arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.

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