The rare detail in this specific print is that, on the building, you can spot a campaign sign for the late David Hoods unsuccessful congressional bid in 1980.
The inclusion of Hoods sign was once a puzzling detail: David who? These days, its the name on the milk bottle that might inspire confusion: Shouldnt that say Braums? So many of these landmarks that you drive by all the time, youre just so used to them, Burns said. All of a sudden, when one disappears, you dont even think about it until then.
Those changes can be particularly difficult if youre an artist chronicling a city that seems to be in as rapid a state of transition as Oklahoma City. Its clear when one looks at his newest work of Oklahoma Citys big-league skyline, and consider just how much has changed since his last skyline piece in 1985. That piece captured the newly finished Crystal Bridge at the Myriad Botanical Gardens as downtown skyscrapers loomed in the background.
That particular print was very successful, Burns said. And it was kind of homage to our city. And finally, things are changing.
That might be an understatement.
The differences between the skyline prints viewable at gregburns-fineart.com are not only a contrast in angles and architecture, but mood and history. Unlike the 1985 piece, which compacted downtown into an almost picturepostcard view, the new painting from its vantage point atop the parking garage next to the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark reflects a cityscape stretching well outside the borders of the piece. Quite the growth spurt, indeed.
Its easy to marvel at the story and accomplishments of longtime local artist Greg Burns. Due to arthrogryposis, a rare disorder that affects the joints and muscles, he creates his art with very limited use of his hands and paints with brushes lodged between his teeth.
Get around that basic human-interest story, however, and you find that his work has a uniqueness all its own.
Burns said he thinks of himself as a reverse-engineering architect with a true enthusiasm for finding out how these things fit together.
Fair enough. His work is intricately detailed with something of a dollhouse aesthetic that makes viewing it joyously time-consuming. His paintings of local landmarks are not unlike photographs where not only the focal point is of interest, but also what might be out of focus or on the margins.
The Townleys piece captured not only a moment in time when the milk bottle hawked a once-standard brand, but also a Classen Boulevard that looks so different than what it does now.
there does seem to be an ever-so-slight degree of sadness in Burns when
he speaks about some of Oklahoma Citys more unique architecture and
some of a gradual transformation toward a more modern look.
modern glass and steel structures, theyre futuristic and modernistic
and we all want to move forward, but still I think that we enjoy our
sense of place with these familiar things, he said. People have
history in those buildings and families, and thats important. Thats
important to the culture.
However, he was quick to add, New buildings can be extremely interesting, too. Im not saying we need to go backwards.
Regardless of the changes that occur, Burns will be there to document them in his work.
interesting about Oklahoma City is the human scale of it. Its not
oppressive, he said. And Ive been awakened by this whole thing again
and Im going to start seriously looking around downtown for some new
subject matter. Because its not blighted anymore. Its becoming
appreciated. A lot of these areas are becoming very sought after. It
really is an awakening.