Art Review

Bill Burgess

For a while now, Bobbi Walker, owner of Walker Fine Art, has been pairing her main exhibits with selections by artists in her stable. With legendary Denver artist Roland Bernier being the featured attraction (see review), it was delightful to notice that Walker had also chosen to showcase another significant Colorado artist, Bill Burgess.

Burgess has been doing welded steel sculpture since the 1960s, and he's created a number of pieces of public art in Colorado. Despite having major works on display throughout the state, Burgess isn't very well known in Denver because he lives and works in Colorado Springs.

Represented by a half-dozen pieces, Burgess demonstrates his strengths as a sculptor. His pieces, done in steel, have a formal simplicity and unity, with each being anchored by a predominating circular shape. For nearly fifteen years, Burgess has embraced the form of the circle, noting in his artist's statement that he is fascinated by its history and meaning. Circles have a long tradition, dating back to prehistory, and they are almost universally regarded as symbolizing "wholesomeness, completeness and continuity."

Among the pieces at Walker are two similar sculptures, "Osiris" and "Isis," both of which are basically spirals created from stainless-steel tubes resting on pyramidal bases. In these, and in all his works, Burgess intentionally reveals the tool scuffs and welding marks on the metal, thoughtfully likening the bruises to the brush strokes of a painter.

Also on view is the gorgeous little "Helix" (pictured), a study model for "Continuum — The Julie Penrose Fountain," which was just dedicated in America the Beautiful Park in Colorado Springs. "Helix" is a couple of feet high, while "Continuum" is four stories tall! The steel loop has more than 300 nozzle jets on it, creating a veil of water around the piece. I haven't gotten down to see it yet, but definitely will during the course of the summer.

Until then, there's always the choice selection of Burgess sculptures at Walker Fine Art, on display through July 21.

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Michael Paglia is an art historian and writer whose columns have appeared in Westword since 1995; his essays on the visual arts have also been published in national periodicals including Art News, Architecture, Art Ltd., Modernism, Art & Auction and Sculpture Magazine. He taught art history at the University of Colorado Denver.
Contact: Michael Paglia