BURLINI'S Beach Painting Collection
"4th of July" by BURLINI
It is impossible to walk into Burlini Studio of the Arts in Boca Raton without immediately feeling enriched by the experience. From the moment you walked in, you discover that you are being offered the rare opportunity to learn not only from an Italian – master – trained artist, but from someone with a genuine passion to nurture creatively and artistic expression in others.
“Working with Chris Burlini gives people the ability to do things they never did before and never thought they could,” said art student Shirley Kayne.” “Chris and his wife Belinda have created a studio designed to provide an exceptional working environment.”
Burlini’s first teaching experience was literally a surprise. During his second year of college, Burlini asked to be accepted as a student at Michael Di Francesco’s Studio of the Arts. When Burlini arrived for his first lesson, he was told to teach the class.
The true lesson? Believe in yourself.
After training at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy, Burlini opened his own studio near Chicago. Burlini trained 350 students and developed teaching techniques adapted from many different methods of instruction.
Burlini has been featured in the American Art Collector and his work can be found in Chicago’s Field Museum. However, it is his passion for teaching that has earned him a legion of fans. While on staff at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, Burlini was asked to be one of four presentation artists. His first lecture drew more than 500 people - the largest turnout in the museum’s history. Burlini then decided to open his own studio again.
Painter and instructor, Boca Raton
Aspiring artists in South Florida will tell you that many of the area’s continuing education classes(i.e., painting, sculpting, pottery, etc.) leave them feeling a little…uninspired. So they’ll be thrilled to hear about the recent opening of Burlini Studio of the Arts,helmed by third - generation artist Christopher Burlini.
The painter studied art in his native Chicago-both in his father, Joseph’s s, studio and at the Illinois Institute of Art – as well as in Florence, Italy. Since then, his works, which he describes a “pop pluralism,” have been exhibited and collected throughout the United States and Europe.
After settling in South Florida about a decade ago, Burlini worked for the Boca Raton Museum of Art for three years and then decided it was time to branch off on his own. So Burlini and wife Belinda opened the Boca Raton studio in 2010 to share his years of experience with fledging artists in the area.
“At a lot of the art institutions in America, they tell the artists that they’re doing great and then kind of leave them alone,” he says. “But there are time-tested methods that can teach you how to think and see as an artist.” In addition to offering inspiration to the students in his studio, Burlini strives to inspire the less fortunate by auctioning off pieces for charity or donating works to children’s hospitals to brighten patients’ lives. “A little art can go a long, long way,” he says.
How did you become involved in art?
Without a choice. I was born into it – my father and grandfather were both sculptors. After an early age, I wasn’t going into the yard and playing ball; I was watching my father weld sculptures. His studio was a playground.
What’s the top highlight of your career?
There have been so many. I worked with 200 kids to produce a painting for the Field Museum of Chicago in under 12 hours, and that was definitely a highlight. That was inspiring.
What’s the atmosphere like in your studio”?
We do really motivating classes. Some of our students are in their 90s, and to see them come in and learn something and walk away smiling and feeling new, that’s wonderful.
What are Florida’s top art centers?
The Dali Museum. I tell all my students that it’s a must – see. It’s one of Florida’s biggest secrets. It’s a tremendous museum. [Editor’s note: The new Dali Museum in St. Petersburg opened this January.]
Who are some up-and-coming artists to watch?
I think the Chinese as a whole. When we look back years from now – just like we look back on the Renaissance, and it was the Italians and the Greeks - this period will belong to the Chinese. They’re learning from the past and then expanding upon it.
Art connoisseurs recently flocked to the first-ever encore lecture series “From the Artist’s Perspective” at the Boca Raton Museum of Art to view a video presentation filled with the Dali-esque “Circus and Sound” oil paintings by Christopher Joseph Burlini. The whimsical yet dramatically emotional portfolio features a private carnival with pinging arcade machine, a Warhol-style still life replete with playful artifacts like a pop-up clown box, as well as a red velvet-curtained stage of vividly scaled tropical fish playfully tantalized by a dangling carrot.
“All of my paintings evoke a dream-like state, with a blend of humanity and humor,” said Burlini. “Each piece demonstrates coexisting contradictions in life – like the security and childhood glee of a circus that masks the sometimes dark side of animal care.” In fact, the portfolio may be a surreal reflection of Burlini’s own past. Prior to arriving in Miami, he painted large murals for the eccentric Squished Eye Theatre in San Francisco, owned by Robert C. Pritikin, author of “Christ Was An Ad Man.” When the stage curtains came to a final close, so did Burlini’s time in San Francisco.
MASTER IN THE MAKING
Many of the great Italian masters became famous for their artistry post mortem, but some say Coral Springs resident Burlini is an up-and-coming modern-day master painter living among us. And while such a statement would make the down-to-earth painter shake his head in disbelief, there’s no doubt his collectors would agree. Burlini is a visionary artist attracted to subjects that explore trials and triumphs of human emotions through his classical, pop-surreal style.
Burlini, in his 40's, was an art instructor at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, launched his own Burlini Studio of the Arts in the same city in August, 2010. But reaching this impressive plateau hasn’t come without the notorious struggle many young artists must persevere
Prior to his trials, however, Burlini had the good fortune of growing up in a family of artists who were, and are, prominent sculptors near Chicago. His father, Joseph Burlini, is well known in the local art circuit for his metallic kinetic creations that can be found on display throughout the Windy City. Young Christopher was born with the family gift of artistic talent, but at the age of 3, he discovered his love was for drawing, not sculpting. “Everything I looked at I envisioned in paint,” Burlini said.
Burlini’s family encouraged him to go into graphic design. But he dashed that path after enrolling in his first painting class at the Illinois Institute of Art – a painting class he nearly failed. You see, after the very first class, Burlini immediately realized his passion for painting. He bought oils and brushes and the largest canvas he could find. Trouble was, the canvas was too big to transport to class, so he simply painted at home. On the last day of the semester, Burlini showed up with his completed canvas - and the result made the instructor’s jaw drop. This young man truly had God-given talent.
In his last year of college, Burlini created a portrait of Marilyn Monroe that drew the admiration of Richard Don of Edward Don restaurant supply family. Don purchased the painting and, upon delivery, offered Burlini the choice of two envelopes, one thick and one thin. The young artist instinctively selected the thicker one thinking it was stuffed with cash. But upon returning home, he later found the contents were actually old brochures of Italian master painters. A puzzled Burlini called Don. The savvy businessman explained that he wasn’t paying Burlini money for the painting, but rather something much more valuable; training at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy. It was an opportunity of a lifetime!
Yet despite the extravagant nature of the payment, Don didn’t intend the experience to be a vacation retreat. He wanted Burlini to seek the true meaning of becoming a fine artist. So, in addition to learning the importance of rudimentary drawing, proportion, shadowing and systematic progression, Burlini also experienced first-hand the plight that artists must endure on the road to success. And what a plight it was. A cash-strapped Burlini slept in bathrooms, alternatively slumbering on school classroom tables when necessary. He learned to love the art, not the compensation it could one day merit. “It was a real awakening to learn to survive,” Burlini said.
After studying in Florence, Burlini eventually relocated to South Beach with the dream of spreading artistic cultural awareness. He made ends meet by selling erotic paintings in the hot-spot’s night clubs. But over the years, Burlini stayed true to his love for pop pluralism. Today, his work can be found in Chicago’s Field Museum, has been featured in the American Art Collector Magazine, and a painting commissioned for the 2008 McDonalds World-wide Convention is hanging in the AES Gallery in Chicago. His steadfast attitude eventually earned him an invitation to be one of four presenting annual artists in the Boca Raton Museum of Art. A lecture on his first exhibit produced the largest turnout in the museum’s history – 500 arrived to an auditorium built to accommodate 80. And the rest is history.
Chris Burlini is a third generation artist and teacher who studied at the prestigious Florence Academy of Art in Italy. His work is described as “pop – surrealism,” an amalgamation of classical and pop-modern styles influenced by his paternal lineage of sculptors and the young artist’s early exposure to art fairs.
The Chicago native spent the past two decades honing his craft and, lucky for us at Polo Club, sharing it with others. For eight years, Burlini has been teaching art to Members through classes held at Polo Club and in his Boca Raton studio.
What began as a way to connect with the community has become a relationship that the artist himself describes as "invaluable."
"We don't teach at any other communities, but Polo is special to us. We are like family," says Chris.
With a mission to awaken and inspire artistic passion in others, what inspires him is the dedication he sees from his Polo Club students. "No matter what they are facing, from physical to emotional struggles, they still find a way to get here," he admires, sharing that he has students who started at age 90 and are still with him eight years later.
Many students who are Members exhibit at Polo Club's semi-annual Art Show and several have sold paintings as well. Still, not everyone who comes to him has aspirations of commercial success as an artist. For some students painting is a great portable hobby-something to do virtually anywhere and a way to capture a moment or an emotion on canvas.
At a glace, Burlini's class may look like any art class, but there is more here than meets the eye. "We teach from a really different angle than most teach," says Chris. "We teach how to get to know yourself through your paintings.
If you are having a good conversation with your painting, we never judge on appearance or beauty. Instead, we encourage them to paint how they see things through their feelings, not just paint what is in from of them. this helps build confidence that their feelings have merit."
If it sounds therapeutic, there is reason. For some students, painting is a way to process something they have experienced. "The story behind the painting can make the work remarkable," he adds. And we are really impressed by the work that is coming out of Polo Club."
Students appreciate nudge
they get from talented teacher
By Mary Jane Fine
There's an art to teaching art. Sometimes, it begins at the beginning with basic shapes and forms, sometimes, it's a mere nudge toward this color, that technique.
"I am a better teach than I am a painter." says Christopher Burlini, who teaches novices and near-professionals and anyone in beteween at this Burlini Studio of the Arts on Boca Raton Boulevard.
But no, no, no, look there, insists Marcy Appelbaum, gesturing toward a Burlini surrealist piece - a fish with fat red lips, a woman's leg encased in fishnet stockings, and more, more more - that hangs on a wall of his studio. In this warren of rooms, just before 10 a.m. on a recent Friday morning, painters of varying talent levels are honing their skills.
Appelbaum is a novice who seems a natural. Her delicate portrait of Catherine the Great, copied form a small likeness taped to her easel, quite equals the original. "I'm trying very hard," she says. "We owe it all to Chris."
To her right, down the row of easels, of painters, Chris Burlini perches on a metal stool, uses his index finger to blend a squiggle of yellow paint, a fanciful cloud on a red-skied landscape. The student whose painting it is hovers at his side, nodding. The brush alone gives one effect, the blending another. Yes, he sees. Yes, he'll try that.
Burlini, a Chicago native who says his father and grandfather were sculptors, leaned toward product design in college - "it came with a nice paycheck," he says, and smiles - but an oil - painting class inspired a more painterly path.
"I never attended class," he recalls, seated now at his computer. "I spent 13, 14 hours a day painting in my parents' basement. My teacher was failing me. On the last day of class, I brought in my painting, I passed."
He calls up a file, clicks on an image, the college painting titled Some Like It Hot: two digital - style Marilyn Monroes flanking a realist Marilyn in gold gown with plunging neckline.
But Burlini doesn't encourage following his style. Each painter must find his or her own.
And, here, no tow pieces by this morning's dozen or so students bear any likeness to one another.
Madeline Millman is outlining, in a marine - blue acrylic, two mirror - image vases: a floor cloth for her Polo Club home. She's out of wall space, she says, so concentrates on floor space.
This is her first year with Burlini, and she's most pleased. "What I'm getting from Chris is technique," she says. It was his idea to draw the bowl in charcoal, then mirror - image it, use tracing paper to transfer the images to her canvas.
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