When I ask my friend, artist Steve Burtch, how he would characterize his career, what he feels he is poised to do at this point, he says “take over the world.” We both laugh, and he goes on. “No, seriously, things are going very well. I’m about to debut my most exciting work to date.” Sitting with Steve in his living room, he tells me “I basically stole my artist’s statement from David Lynch, who it appears lifted it from Eva Zeisel,” the Hungarian ceramicist who passed away December 30, 2011 at the age of 105. When asked how to make something beautiful, Eva replied simply, “You just have to get out of the way.”
But what about all the studying, all the training, that artists do, be they actors or painters? If all we have to do is get out of the way, what’s the point of all that? Steve admits that, while he has plenty of classical training, and thinks that it is important, there are those that get by without it “just because they have talent. I mean, you see that as an actor, don’t you, in your field?” What Steve does think it takes, for everyone, in any artistic field, classically trained or not, are “discipline and a willingness to work at it every day.” That regimen, that pattern, helps you get out of the way. “Like when you go for a long run,” he says. “You train and train, and then one day, you find that you’re just running.” But unlike Steve’s friend Trey McIntyre, with whom he used to be roommates and who was profiled in the April 2011 blog article An Offering of Suffering, Steve says, “I don’t offer up my suffering for anyone. I like to keep it all for myself, and a few choice members of Congress.”
Art critic Shana Nys Dambrot described perfectly the paradox of this interplay between intense discipline and the ability to simply get out of the way and let the art happen when she said of Steve’s work, "Burtch's paintings and drawings...are impossibly delicate, nuanced affairs, whose fine, almost maddening subtlety belies the controlled chaos of their making." If you want the chance to see his work in person, he is about to be featured, via Peter Blake Gallery, in the 17th Annual LA Art Show: Modern and Contemporary, and next month in the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair: Post War and Contemporary Art, all leading up to a Spring show at Peter Blake Gallery in Laguna Beach, California and a project with Devin Borden Gallery in Houston, Texas. He is represented by Peter Blake Gallery and by Devin Borden Gallery.
You can see his work and get more information on his website at steveburtchstudio.com. But you should know that there is no way that photography can capture the subtleties of his work and do justice to the relationship that the pieces have with the ever changing qualities of light, so do yourself a favor — go view it in person. You’ll see it, and it will stay with you. It has with me.