Public artist

Erik Burke

Photo By David Robert

Erik Burke is a 27-year-old artist, muralist, documentary filmmaker and bicyclist. The Reno artist’s work can be viewed in the (Con)temporary Gallery, an alleyway at 1251 S. Virginia St. Burke has worked to help create a free outdoor gallery in Carson City, which will showcase his mural, commissioned by the Capital City Arts Initiative’s new Art in Public program. The opening reception is Sept. 20 from 5-7 p.m. in the alleyway between 1801 and 1805 N. Carson St.

Burke’s film, Road to Colossus, will also premiere in San Francisco on Oct. 13 at the Live Wurms gallery, kicking off a West Coast tour of about eight cities. The tour ends in Reno with a screening at the Nevada Museum of Art on Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. In Road to Colossus, Burke and his friend Derek Yost ride their bikes from Reno to Arkansas to meet a boxcar tagger, who’s just retired from the railroad after 42 years of tagging his moniker—Colossus of Roads—on boxcars across America.

What goal is driving the gallery project in Carson City?

I am trying to merge the gallery concept with public art.

What types of works will be on display?

Painted murals, sculptural work, sound and video installations, as well as traditional paintings, will all be on display. Everything is going to be about bicycle culture.

Who will be participating in this project?

I am working with the Carson City High School art department. I would also like to have a “critical mass” bike ride from Reno to Carson City. I think that if people wanted to ride there it would be great, but we may get stuck there if people don’t want to ride back.

What will you be highlighting in your mural?

Glenn Lucky, an iconic character in Carson City. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was just 2-months-old. He rides his bike through town every day, and local businesses give him advertisements. Glenn is 54 now and still riding. So, I wanted to paint a mural about him. I think it’s important to celebrate the small individuals who are characteristic of our environment.

What inspires you?

People, places and traveling. I enjoy seeing how the other part of the world lives, even if it is your neighbor. I just got back from Brazil. I went to paint murals for three weeks. It was fun the whole time. I traveled around on my own accord. Did you know that voting is mandatory in Brazil at the age of 18?

How did you become such an avid cyclist?

When I moved to Seattle, it was much easier to get around the city on a bike. I have taken two trips across the country. I’m addicted. I love riding my bike, and I’ve got a geography addiction.

What would you like people to take from the experiences you create?

The small little gem is right around the corner. Oftentimes, we need to escape our cubical-style life. We have so many interesting spaces around town that could be made into cultural centers. I would like to make an epicenter that could grow with the city. Even Petri dishes need culture.