Artist Anthony Burks Sr. has been called many things quiet, great family man, an admired advisor....but one thing everyone that comes in contact with him & his art all agree on; he is a fabulous artist. This Florida bred introvert is very soft spoken, but his art work screams loudly as it jumps off the page. Here is a quick interview I did of Anthony while we sat in the newly established Artspace 408 in the Village in Northwood that we manage.
Trina: When did art become part of your life?
Anthony Sr: I was born with it. I’ve been drawing since I can remember. My mother use to color in coloring books and I remember coloring with her. I use to enter little school contest. I did a drawing of Paul Bunyan chopping down a tree in 5th grade, & won 1st place. In 6th or 7th grade I drew Martin Luther King for a poster contest and one 1st place in that too. My prize was that I got to ride in the MLK parade. I guess you can say that is when I got bitten by the bug. I loved it until I got into high school , where it started becoming political. Since I have always been shy, my drawing was the only thing that got me the attention that sort of wanted.
Trina: Who or what are your artistic influences?
Anthony Sr: Cracks in the concrete, your hair, shadows on the wall, wrinkles in fabric; anything that has a shape to it that catches my eye. Storytelling, in later years have kept me flowing. Sometimes I am just out there.
Trina: What inspires you?
Anthony Sr: Wow!! Hard Question
(Customers walk into the Artspace. Anthony greats the two ladies and explains the concepts of some of the work. One would never believe that he wouldn't have do that 4 years ago. Often he would go into a corner and sketch in a journal & I would be the one to explain the concepts of Anthony Burks. We resume.)
Anthony Sr: People inspire me. I get challenged every time someone debates or compliments my work. It makes me work that much harder. I think when I get angry it is when I really create some of my best stuff, because I am in total control. And when I am happy I am doing other things.
Trina: That is very common with artists. They often are more creative when they are going through emotional stuff. What about music?
AnthonySr: Ahh. Music, somewhat. But it isn’t like I listen to a song and I run out and draw. So music isn’t the sole inspiration. But it does help.
Trina: Are there any other disciplines of art that you are a part of?
AnthonySr: Not directly, but I often collaborate with spoken word artists.
Trina: What is your favorite medium that you enjoy using?
Anthony Sr: Color pencil, of course. I love color pencil. I HATE working with acrylic. YUCK! It’s just sooo messy. I was working on a piece in here @ the gallery and it was all over me.
Trina: Where did you get your training?
Anthony Sr: The streets, hahaha. Probably 10th grade high school. I cannot credit anyone or anytime before that. There was this racist, redneck boy in 7th or 8th grade who always challenged me artistically me. He never said anything to me racially. But he always challenged me artistically because he was a really good artist. He would draw a lot of German paraphernalia , swastikas, German armored vehicles all kinds of that stuff. And I could not take away from him that he was really good despite his subject matter.
Trina: How long have you been pursuing art, professionally?
Anthony Sr: 20 years. Been trying to find the Underground Railroad from my job. Hahaha. And somehow I seem to lead everyone else out: but can’t seem to find my own way out.
Trina: How do you choose your subject matter?
Anthony Sr: It’s all in my head. Once I know I know what I am going to do, I do my research & try to find photos or take my own pictures for my visuals. The sad part is I can never find exactly the right subject matter to match what is in my head. And sometimes I have to revamp the things in my head to make the piece work.
Trina: What direction do you see visual art going?
Anthony Sr: A dinosaur. People are going to dig us up one day and find out what they lost. Robot artists! No creative thought! Computers are taking over. There are a lot of phony artists using the computer to do the brush strokes.
Trina: How do you define art?
Anthony Sr: FREEDOM.
Trina: What motivates you to do what you do?
Anthony Sr: Good Question. It’s my passion. My drug. Don’t know what I would do without it. I can go a few days without. But I have to go right back.
Trina: hahahahaha. I get what you mean. Do you have any favorite artists?
Anthony Sr: 1. Alvaro Rojas. http://www.southofsouthern-gallery.com A brilliant artist. He doesn’t let his art dictate his life. His works is just amazing. 2.Turgo Bastien. http://turgoart.com/index.html He is just special. I love his work. I love what he does. 3.Dr. Ken Grey. I love his spirit. When I first met him I wasn’t sure about him as an artist until we had a really great conversation. 4. Tonya Akins I love the intricate detail, notes, sketches, direction she puts into her doll making. Any artists that I can walk into a room & I can say WOW!!!!
Trina: Is there a discipline that you wish to work with?
Anthony Sr: Blown glass. I have always wanted to do that. I am fascinated with glass like Chiluly. I also want to go to Japan & learn watercolor from a master.
Trina: Do you feel that people respect art?
Anthony Sr: That’s a deadly question. That can make or break an artist. I think they don’t understand it. My mind is always thinks ART. And the average person doesn’t realize what goes into art.
Trina: What do want to be known for when you are gone?
Anthony Sr: Not art related. That every word that came out of my mouth was not a weapon. People don’t understand how strong my heart really is. I only try to help people. My advice is for that. Not to hurt. People probably assume that I want to be known for my art only. Once I’m gone I’m dust in the wind. It is too late then. I want for people to be able to appreciate my work while I am alive. So I can enjoy that appreciation too.