Tim Burke (bio)

I am deeply rooted in Detroit. Beginning with my great grandfather, a master plasterer on the Fox Theater. My father was also a Cass Corridor artist. His work is now archived in the Smithsonian Institution.

I’ve studied drawing and have extensive metal fabrication and welding training. In 2000, I started work on my home/studio on Heidelberg Street which now operates as the Detroit Industrial Gallery.

In my art Granite from the exterior of the Detroit Institute of Arts becomes a table or a bench. Copper flashing from the Fisher mansion becomes a nose on totem like wooden faces. Even the dentures left behind in an abandoned dentist's office become something different when attached to pieces of slate taken from the roofs of old Churches in Detroit.

I have shown at the Detroit Institute of Arts, The Art Exchange, Biegas Gallery, Detroit Artist Market, and the Zeitgeist Gallery to name a few. In the suburbs my work has shown at the Carol James Gallery and Ariana Gallery both in Royal Oak, River's Edge Gallery in Wyandotte, and the Grosse Pointe Artist Association. In 2004 I had the special honor of having my work included as part of Tyree Guyton’s outdoor installation in Sydney Australia.

I'm known by many as a visionary, a rehab counselor, an educator - and most proudly, an artist of unclaimed, dismantled, tossed aside gems — A treasure hunter devoted to reusing and recycling the architectural gems of this city.

The emphasis throughout my art career has been about preservation with anthropological underpinnings. I rescue bits and pieces of Detroit history making them look like something other than what they originally were; not to just keep them around, but also to work through my own angst.

Besides being a full time artist, I have held all sorts of different jobs. I have been employed as a substance abuse counselor and art therapist. Currently I'm laboring as a assemblyman for a store fixture and display company.

When I'm not scaling the heights of some historic building to save copper flashing, I stay grounded by serving in the community. I donate to the Art Works for Life program: a Benefit for the Midwest Aids Prevention Project and the Coalition for Temporary Shelter as well as Heidelberg Project's fundraising auctions. I’ve also participated in Detroit Public schools art workshops.

I think there is a spirit or life with healing capabilities in all these relics when taking them from the discarded and giving them a new life. I surround myself with them even in my home and studio. The process of renovation and preservation has a social and psychological and spiritual dimension to it which always keeps me looking for more.

I am a sculptor, like my father before me. I am committed to seeing the reality of a rebuilt Detroit, a city that claims its past, present and future. My hope is that my art which incorporates salvaged found objects furthers that reality one discarded jewel at a time.

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