Burke's work

Jun 15, 2005 at 12:00 am
Tim Burke
3647 Heidelberg St., Detroit

Though not technically part of Tyree Guyton's famed Heidelberg project, Tim Burke is profoundly influenced by both the artist and the street — that's why he decided to buy a house on Heidelberg Street four years ago.

"It's the place to be in Detroit," says Burke, who has known Guyton since 1986 and considers him a close friend. "I've been inspired by his work, and he says he's been inspired by some of my work as well. It's a mutual thing."

Burke knew from the get-go that he'd transform his home into a work of art, both inside and out. His house is hard to miss — it's drenched in an eye-popping shade of orange and yellow, the front dotted by mannequin heads and body parts spattered in red paint and draped in barbed wire. By contrast, his garden grows with sunny marigolds, cartoonish totem poles topped with moose heads, and boxy, open-mouthed figures made from scrap metal and old telephones. Many components of his sculptures stem from famous Detroit landmarks that have fallen under the wrecking ball, such as a red "dress" that came from the imploded Hudson's building. As for the mannequin heads, he stumbled across them — literally.

"Tyree sent me over to an abandoned garage; he said there was a bunch of cool stuff over there," Burke says, "And then I found the head, and at first I thought it was real. I almost called 911."

Burke says the severed heads piece represents casualties of war.

"That's what happens in war — severed heads, arms, feet. They don't show the gory realities of war; that way it's not happening in people's eyes because they're not seeing it," he says.

One of Burke's biggest influences recently died — his father, Liam Burke, who created metal sculptures and worked as a blacksmith. Burke is now searching for some of his father's work to add to his own sculpture garden.

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