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Artists in Palm Beach County Take Part In New Innovation Fellowship Program

Artist Innovation fellow Anthony Burks Sr. poses in front of two paintings at the opening celebration for an exhibition at the Cultural Council’s headquarters
Jacek Photo
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Artist Innovation fellow Anthony Burks Sr. at opening celebration for an exhibition at the Cultural Council’s headquarters in Lake Worth Beach on June 19, 2021

The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County selected five innovative artists for their inaugural Artist Innovation Fellowship Program. One of the fellows, Anthony Burks Sr., says it’s a sign that the cultural sector is on the rebound during the pandemic.

Burks has spent more than 25 years as a mixed media fine artist and curator, exhibiting his various types of work throughout museums and showcases in South Florida.

The West Palm Beach native, whose works were recently acquired by the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, says his colored pencil project, “Natural Beauty/OneLove,” is a series of “soulful” fine art portraits of random people he encounters in the streets.

“I have to turn around and literally give them my business card. Pull my cellphone and the images I’ve created and tell them ‘Look, I need to create you — if you give me permission to use your image,” Burks said. “So far that’s been working beautifully. No one has ever rejected me.”

The portraits — created with colored pencils, charcoal, watercolor, pen and ink — are like “capturing a snapshot of the community," he said.

Burks, alongside other multi-disciplinary visual artists Isabel Gouveia, Amy Gross, musician Joshua Lubben, and choreographer Donna Murray, were awarded $7,500 grants to fund their creative process. Artists can use the funds for research, travel, or any endeavor that will help foster innovation.

Artists Fellowship Group.jpeg
Jacek Photo
2020 ARTIST INNOVATION FELLOWS (L TO R): ANTHONY BURKS, SR., ISABEL GOUVEIA, AMY GROSS, DONNA MURRAY, JOSHUA LUBBEN, AND CULTURAL COUNCIL PRESIDENT & CEO DAVE LAWRENCE (FAR RIGHT)

Burks used the funds to open up a studio space in Palm Beach Gardens, get some of his works framed and produce his first coffee table book.

The fellowship is sponsored by the Leonard and Norma Klorfine Foundation. In a statement, Dave Lawrence, president and CEO of the Cultural Council, said the program is meant to “highlight their remarkable talents, unique discoveries, and contributions to our vibrant arts community.”

The selected works of the five fellows are on display at the Cultural Council headquarters in Lake Worth Beach and the exhibit runs through Aug. 27.

Burks says fellowships help artists connect with people and evolve their work. One of his greatest joys is standing in the background at in-person exhibits, watching people try to interpret his pieces.

He’ll chime in, at times, to provide context and says that experience is part of his creative process — and the ideas have continued to flow throughout the pandemic.

“No matter what we are going through, we've got to create, said Burks. “We can’t stop that drum from beating in our heads until we get it on paper, on canvas, or on some metal or some wood or something, it’s gonna drive us stone crazy.”