Manlius Ken Burke has been painting for more than 50 years and has never won an award for an easel painting – until now. This year, he decided to enter a picture he painted of Buster, a dog who belongs to his friend Corinne Cerminaro, of Liverpool. Burke saw a picture of the dog on Facebook and immediately asked Cerminaro for permission to paint Buster.
“The picture left an impression on me - he’s the kind of dog that jumps out of his skin – and that’s what I tried to show in the painting,” said Burke, who had only entered a picture in the State Fair competition once before.
Normally, Burke doesn’t paint on paper. He prefers to paint murals and signs – last October, he finished painting a bridge over West Onondaga Street in Syracuse, which he painted bright red for the Rescue Mission with the words “Lives change here.” He also painted signs on the sides of the old Carrier Building in DeWitt, which has since been torn down.
“This is the first award for an easel painting I’ve ever won,” said Burke. “I’m an expressionist; I try to accent the expressions of [my subjects.]”
Burke he was surprised to find that his painting, which he named “Buster Chops,” won third place out of 103 entries in the Fine Arts Amateur contest. He said decided to enter the amateur division because he doesn’t consider himself a professional due to the fact that he doesn’t make a living from doing easel paintings.
“I’m very flattered that they would choose to give me an award and I’m very grateful,” he said. “I was thinking if I wanted to have my work displayed in a restaurant or gallery downtown, I could now show that I’m worthy of having it shown because I’ve won a prize.”