Static Clears the Air at Durden and Ray

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With a politically and socially powerful exhibition in Static, at Durden and Ray through December 30th, the art collective marks the perfect end to their empowered year. Static investigates the electric buzz of communication and its effect on the tellers and receivers.

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Taken as a response to and protest of our current political climate, the show offers pointed insight into both the nation’s emotional state and political system. Curated by Dani Dodge (above) and Alanna Marcelletti (below right, with artist Samuelle Richardson, left) the opening began with a half hour panel discussion Fake News, Real News, and Trust in Journalism. 

 

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And words and discussion are in part the medium – along with sculpture, paint, mixed media, and video – of the show. Including the art of journalists, and of artists speaking about the impact of media, the show thematically explores the emotional context of art and the factual content of journalism and whether the pairing offers a comprehensive view of the world at present or is just a “more beautiful form of static.”

Artists and Journalists exhibiting include: Lili Bernard, Jennifer Celio, Molly Crabapple, Dani Dodge, Jose Galvez, Emily Goulding, Kio Griffith, Anne Elizabeth Moore, Danial Nord, Sean Noyce, Max Presneill, Walter Robinson, Steven Wolkoff, and Samira Yamin.

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Above, “Macy’s 5-day Special” and “Shoes,” two acrylic on paper works by Walter Robinson, the former news editor of Art in America and founding editor of Artnet magazine, bases his paintings on department store flyers inserted into a newspaper. His interpretation of the ads can be seen as a commentary on merchandising, capitalism, and the seduction of objects.

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Above, Dani Dodge, who spent two decades as a newspaper reporter and editor, blends the voices of Republicans and Democrats in a video installation that is a kind of unintelligible auditory poetry accompanied by abstract video images.  As always with Dodge,  her work here with “News Cycle” has an immersive quality;  listening for the indefinable inflections that make – or don’t make – those registered for different political parties “different,” one is struck by the detail, precision, and beauty of both the visual images and the buzzy sound. We are all, to some extent, abstract ciphers, as lovely as we are discardable – our words like analog TV monitors on an AV cart,  as quickly dated. What remains, perhaps, is the perpetual, unintelligible buzz.

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Above, Jennifer Celio’s “Just like a work of art, baby,” watercolor on Yupo and cut paper with spray paint on Duralar. The image evokes the crudity of American politics, media, and the dumbing down of just what is worthy in U.S. culture.

Below, Max Presneill’s “RD 170” offers bold and abstract images that resembles letters, computer screens, television screens, and the overall visual performance of communication.

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Below, the lush, passionate self-portrait in mixed media by Lili Bernard. “Self Portrait as Yemaya Under Attack” uses sequins, acrylic paint, photos, pills, glitter, a section of nylon Afro-wig, ribbon, pipe cleaners, and costume jewelry among other mediums on canvas. Beset on all sides, the titular character may be slightly bowed, but she is unbroken. A gorgeous, powerful, commentary that takes on the voraciousness of our culture – and our news cycle.

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Above and below, Steven Wolkoff’s “Static Pile” pile consists of shredded acrylic paint on a mirror top, referencing shredded tweets by Donald Trump. On the wall behind Wolkoff, below, is “Interference,”  an all-black digital print that contains the complete collection of Trump’s tweets from January 20 through November – an appropriate black void, as dense as it is bleak.

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Below, artist Kio Griffith with “I have nothing to make and I am making it,” a mixed media work of painted wood and vintage butcher paper with text. His impactful description of the piece expresses both the poetry and the self-expressed emptiness he intends.

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Above,  Daniel Nord offers a different type of poetry of repeated language patterns and facial images in televised politics. The piece, titled November 28, 2007 has analyzed and reconfigured facial expressions and rhetoric from the 2007 Republican presidential campaign debate of that year. Yellow-shoed feet emerge from analog televisions, rendering the boxes, and the video images on them, into robotic creatures with a life of their own – possibly a life more fully realized than that of the politicians on screen.

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Above, Alana Marcelletti’s “Hive Mind” is a construct of crocheted newspaper; it also is a pointed reference to both the ways in which we are connected via the news cycle and condemned to be a part of what the media presents.

Special holiday hours are Tues.-Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 23rd and Saturday, December 30th. On the 23rd, meet artist Jennifer Celio; on the 30th, Max Presneill and Dani Dodge. Taking this exhibition in is the perfect way to celebrate the end of the year.

Durden and Ray is located at 1923 S. Santa Fe Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90021

  • Genie Davis; photos: Jack Burke, Genie Davis; Alana Marcelletti image provided by gallery.

 

The Brewery Art Walk – Spring 2017 Edition

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Above, the work of Sean Sobczak Sandman Creations.

As always, DTLA’s awesome and eclectic artists lofts, studios, and galleries – the Brewery – offered up a tremendous wealth of art to peruse at the April edition of their twice yearly art walk.  Take a look at some of the artists and art – and if you missed it this spring, be sure to mark the walk on your calendar for October. So much to see, intimate conversations with artists, brilliant art work at reasonable prices. Hard to top that, but this being LA, we threw in a bright, sunny day, some gourmet food trucks, and beer. The Artwalk IPA was perfect.

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Above and below, artist Samuelle Richardson with her wonderfully haunting “Ghost Dogs” sculptural installation. Richardson created these beautiful pieces especially for Art Walk.

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A magical energy in these sculptures, which use fabric and wood to shape powerful and poignant beasts.

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Chenhung Chen’s fluid, alive wire sculptures dance with kinetic energy, below.

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The artist’s wall art, many utilizing staples, is a fresh take on abstract imagery, works that shine literally and figuratively.

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Below, Glen Waggner creates intense and diminutive drawings that tell succinct, perfectly realized impressionistic stories. The prolific artist creates both figures and landscapes.

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Kristine Augustyn, below, offers both lush abstracts and figurative pieces that edge into the surreal. Both Augustyn and Waggner showed works at the Brewery’s Jesus Wall Gallery.

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Below, a work inspired by a trip to Disneyland.

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Randi Hockett’s studio-grown crystals dazzle, below. These raw and glittering works offer a wonderful contrast of sharp crystal textures and the softness of the wax surfaces. This is work that is hard to look away from, which evoke the feminine and the fairy tale.

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Kristine Schomaker, below, has reconstructed and reimagined her own work in an exhibition titled “An Ode to a Lost Love.” Tackling complex issues from body image to gender identity, her sculptural installation below explores both the personal and the universal – and still evoke a fantastical candy store.

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Bill Leigh Brewer, below, creates photographic works that are painterly in style, mysterious and magical in perception.

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From the California desert to the snowy hills of Vermont, Brewer fills his landscapes with a subtext of wonder and loss.

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Winnie Brewer, below, has painted bees and other creatures great and small in exquisitely detailed works that glow with light and color.

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Below, Tony Pinto, in residence at Shoebox Projects, created dimensional paintings and photographic portraits in his exhibition “Art Seen.” His ability to capture the innate essence of artists, writers, and gallerists in LA’s art scene is revealing and insightful.

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While her studio was not open for art walk due to deadlines on completing works for other exhibitions, we had a sneak-peak at a piece currently on exhibit at Durden & Ray’s “Going Native” show from installation and sculptural artist Dani Dodge. Here a deeply layered image invites second, third, and many more looks beneath the surface.

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Her work, above, is like accessing an archeological dig: there is so much going on beneath the surface, an intense energy breaking through.

Below, Ryan McIntosh and Kati Milan share studio space and a wealth of evocative art.

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Artist Ted Meyer, below. A little bit Picasso, a little bit Modigliani in great faces, forms and familiars. These are portraits that tell a story worth “reading” often. Stylized, riveting, and exotic, Meyer’s figures also serve as a healing document for those affected by trauma. Brewery ONE

Below the incredibly rich partnered work of Anna Stump and Daphne Hill blossoms with life – lush and sensual florals.

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There is such an overflowing cornucopia of art at The Brewery that we could not do justice to all the artists here – or even those in this article. Find your own overflowing artistic joy at the next art walk come October.

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  • Genie Davis; Photos: Genie Davis

 

Durden and Ray: New Space, Same Passion

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Art collectives are a wonderful thing. They bring together and support groups of artists whose eclectic and powerful work deserves a showcase which it might not find with a solo approach.

Durden and Ray are one such collective, and they have recently made a move – from a loft space across the street on Santa Fe Avenue to a pristine, white-wall gallery in the same complex as CB1.

Above, left, Tom Dunn’s “Mesopotamia #36,” a marvelous mix of the abstract and figurative in oil. Alongside, to the right, the brilliantly textured acrylic on canvas of Jenny Hagar, “Roja.” Both leap off the wall, as different as they are well-matched.

Yes, the space is lovely and airy, the light dancing off the walls and works, but it is the art itself, and the passionate spirit the collective represents that shines.

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Above left, artist Dani Dodge with curator Steven Wolkoff.

The opening exhibition in the new space, Round Won was curated by Steven Wolkoff, the show features artists: Dani Dodge, Tom Dunn, Roni Feldman, Jon Flack, Jenny Hager, Ben Jackel, David Leapman, Alanna Marcelletti, Max Presneill, David Spanbock, Jesse Standlea, and Alison Woods.

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Above, Alison Woods with her “Utopia,” acrylic on canvas, we have geometric patterns and vibrating lines so intense that the canvas appears layered; there are elements that evoke a collage or puzzle pieces. Viewers see a city landscape that is exploding with flora and fauna.

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Above, Allana Marceletti, left, near her “Daae,” a sculptural collage of found objects, acrylic, and metal on organza with seatbelt straps. Hang on for the ride. Next to her is Dani Dodge, whose installation, “Ashes,”  is comprised of glass containing the burnt ashes of articulated, written fears.  While very different conceptually, both pieces feature sheer, almost fragile visual depth, and pull the viewer into a landscape that is shimmery and mutable.

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Max Presneill stands before his oil and enamel “RD 141.” Bold graphics and lines, shapes that stand entirely on their own yet coalesce into a vivid whole.  Presneill wants viewers to experience his bright, visceral work from the perspective of the “system of languages we call painting.”

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David Spanbock’s candy colored acrylic on linen, “The Politics of Transformation,” is a dimensional, unique take on urban life and environment.

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And what would an urban environment be without a few fire hydrants? Ben Jackel’s “Large headed hydrants (youth, middle age, elder) are stoneware and beeswax, and serve as a kind of ‘in memoriam’ to the vicissitudes of city life. The black color renders them tomb-like, yet the overall affect is lighthearted.

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Jon Flack’s “Backyard Sermon,” rear wall, takes an entirely modern approach to an iconic American subject, the itinerant preacher. Juxtaposed with Marcelletti’s sculpture and Dodge’s installation, the three works make an engaging commentary on things both profound and redemptive.

Both collectively and through each artist’s work, Round Won is more than ready for prime time.

This will be a two-part opening introducing the 24 members of Durden and Ray  – Round Too, curated by Max Presneill, will open April 1st.

The show runs through March 19th. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday noon-4 p.m. The new space is located at 1923 S. Santa Fe Ave. in DTLA.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Genie Davis

Afterfear Comes Beauty

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“If we can’t banish our fears, we must learn to live among their ghosts.”               – Dani Dodge

Installation artist Dani Dodge has done it again, taking on the enormity of human emotion and shaping it into an art form.  Her Afterfear, now at HB Punto Experimental in San Diego, is a revelation in its beauty, and a passionate extension of Dodge’s work.

“The exhibition is directly related to Peeled & Raw, an installation I created originally at LA Artcore in December 2015, and then brought back for an encore at my studio during the April 2016 Brewery Artwalk. The installation encouraged people to purge their fears by tearing the wallpaper from the walls, and writing their fears upon the scraps,” Dodge explains.

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The catalyst for Dodge to create that piece was the mass shootings at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, and the aftermath of that attack.

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“I was tapping into the material’s metaphorical potential as both a critique of Western values as well as an opportunity to peel it back. At the end of each show, I burned the fears in a symbolic exorcism,” Dodge relates.

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Afterfear goes even bigger. Gallery owner Hugo Heredia Barrera gave Dodge the ultimate “canvas” – an entire gallery for her to fill.

“Rather than making a single installation, I created a three-part story. In Part 1 I deal with my own fear, in Part 2, I deal with global fear, and then in Part 3, I deal with how the inability to rid ourselves of fear leads us to be forever haunted.”

One of the things that is the most fascinating about Dodge’s work is her ability to seamlessly meld deep meanings with installations that are simply gorgeous to look at. Like all the best art, her work illuminates; however it can also simply be viewed as a sculptural, immersive work that is pleasing to the eye. There is a trick and a gift to doing this: appealing to a visual aesthetic that a viewer can easily tap into, while delving deep into her own, and the viewer’s psyche.

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“As people walk into the gallery, the first thing they see is the results of me facing my own fears. Ever since 2003 when I covered the war in Iraq as a journalist, I have had a fear of the sound of explosions and guns,” she attests.

Dodge went to the desert to confront this fear. “The desert is a mystical and inspiring place for me. For all appearances it is a place that is dead, but you look intently and you see life teeming under your feet and all around you. It always reminds me to look beyond the surface of not only what I see, but what I say with my art. To understand that even if people don’t look beneath the surface, that all the work that goes into the invisible layers adds to the richness of the ultimate expression.”

So it felt natural and right to Dodge to use the desert as the location to mine the fears in her own heart.

“The Fourth of July is difficult for me because of the anxiety caused by the noise of the fireworks. As part of this exhibition where I deal with other people’s fears, I figured it was only fair to face with my own. I lit the fuse on firecrackers in a remote desert area to create art for the show. The video is here: https://vimeo.com/194511343 It was empowering. And I loved using the source of my fear to create something beautiful.”

Dodge was originally invited to cover the Iraq invasion after the assignment was turned down by a reporter not eager to be on the front lines. Unlike her peer,  she didn’t hesitate to take the assignment. But she felt her stories of calamity, bravery, and loss only scratched the surface of the war, and she was compelled to turn to the creation of art.  The tales she tells now through her installations are powerful indeed, visceral, and comprehensive. Starting the Afterfear exhibition with her own fear is brave and bold; it immediately creates a connection with viewers. Who has not been afraid of something? Who does not feel fear?

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“As people continue into the gallery, the come to a low wall, built with more than 100 glass bricks with the ashes of the fears burned from Peeled & Raw suspended inside them. The wall is translucent. Some of the bricks are cloudy white, some are crisp and clear and the ashes distinctly visible,” Dodge reveals.

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This is such an incredibly moving section of Afterfear.  The idea of containing one’s fear, destroying it yet retaining its aftermath, is potent. But it is the image itself that resonates. If the viewer did not know what he or she was seeing, it would be just as strong. The bricks glow. They are ice, they are X-rays of the human spirit, vessels for passing down, for remembering, for separating. They are the DNA of human nature, captured and preserved as if they represented a prehistoric creature caught in amber.

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“As gallery visitors turn the corner into the main room the simplicity of the first two parts of the exhibit are lost in a cacophony. I created the wallpapered effect in Peeled & Raw by covering 8 x 4 foot panels with about six layers of wallpaper, starting with wallpaper from the 1940s and ‘50s, and using current wallpaper as the final layer. So as people tore the wallpaper to write their fears upon it, they revealed earlier and earlier vintages of wallpaper, and created a time-based work of art,” Dodge explains.

When Peeled & Raw opened, the artist said “We’ve covered up beauty by letting our fears run amuck instead of dealing with issues in positive ways.”

In today’s politically inspired emotional context, this is truer than ever. And Dodge has not only transformed the panels she utilized in that previous exhibition, she has mutated the fear itself into something gestational, something from which things grow – in some cases good things.

“I took those panels and painted them to enhance the designs created through the process of people tearing, but also used spray-paint to desecrate them simultaneously. The pieces now are the walls in the back gallery, or Part 3 of the show,” Dodge relates.

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“Then, within the room I piled 13 totems, each one relating to previous installations I had done where people shared secrets, dreams, burdens or sins with me. The predominant material of each of the totems is Styrofoam, recycled from packing boxes. As I created it, what I had in mind was a place where the past doesn’t die, such as a grandmother’s home where mementos from the 30s are crowded together with the image of their newest great granddaughter on a digital photo frame. At the opening, one person remarked to me that they were ‘experience embedded in object.’ Another person related that they reminded her of ancient ruins.”

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Viewers – and it would be a mistake, perhaps, to call those who visit the exhibition merely viewers, participants is perhaps more apt – pick their way through the totems, some as tall as eight feet, to get to a blank wall.

“There they can write what haunts them on wallpaper, and glue it to the wall face down – making their own specter into a communal work of art,” Dodge reveals.

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In short, the artist is helping us to learn to live among the ghosts of our fears.

Interestingly, when people responded with their fears during Dodge’s Peeled & Raw,  particularly during the shows April 2016 revival, many had fears of the future. “At least two dozen wrote Donald Trump. And one wrote Hillary Clinton,” Dodge says.

“I burned those fears of a certain presidential candidate, along with fears of death, rape, injustice and snakes. I made glass bricks and suspended the ashes inside. My intent was to build a wall that was unlike Trump’s proposed border wall; it would be a wall we could see through, past our fears incinerated within. We could walk around the wall to find hope and joy and each other.”

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The poetry in what Dodge says is fully expressed in her art. That is perhaps one of the most striking things about this artist’s work: it is as large scale, in a visual sense, as a novel is to the written word, yet what one takes away from her installation is a kind of emotional haiku. It is a shorthand for life. Nothing more or less.

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“My art is not overtly political. It is about showing people their better selves by helping them to confront their secrets and emotions. Now more than ever, that is important for our country. This election has torn us apart. Our civil liberties face assault. The value of basic human dignity has taken a nose dive,” she asserts. “Now is the time for art to elevate, to inspire, to hold up a mirror to our country and shout, ‘Look at yourself. Is this who you really want to be?'”

Dodge has recently received a number of well-deserved accolades.
In 2016 Americans for the Arts named her installation CONFESS as one of the previous year’s outstanding public arts projects. CONFESS debuted at L.A. Pride in West Hollywood, CA, in 2015.

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“I sat in a confessional and allowed participants to share their worst sins with me. The result was not sacramental grace but a twisted penance and an anonymous typed note that detailed each transgression on a gold piece of paper. Thus absolved, at least in the eyes of art, confessors could move forward unburdened,” Dodge states. “The confession booth was within a 20-foot-square space with walls on three sides covered by black fabric. As the weekend went forward, the walls went from black to gold with people’s deepest sins revealed.”

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Dodge was also honored with two of ArtSlant’s 2016 juried winner awards, one for the installation Night Clouds, above, the other for the new media of Losing Perspective.  

“The accolades are great, but for me, success is about connection, when an artwork reaches people emotionally and mentally.”

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On Facebook Kelly Brumfield-Woods remarked about Afterfear:  “I walked away realizing we all have the same fears and it strangely made me happy.”

As Brumfield-Woods aptly notes, there is something about Dodge’s work that not only tackles our fears, but allows us to embrace them, and reveals that we are all, each of us, vessels, which, after fear, contain beauty. And that does indeed make one strangely happy.

Next up for Dodge:

January 27-29, 2017: Exhibiting at stARTup Fair LA, in Los Angeles.

April 2017: Solo show New Museum Los Gatos, in Los Gatos, California.

June 2017: Solo show MOAH: Cedar in Lancaster, California.

October 2017: Solo show A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, New York.

Afterfear runs through February 11th at HB Punto Experimental

The gallery is located at 2151 Logan Ave Section B, San Diego, California 92113

 

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Courtesy of the Artist; Peeled & Raw, Jack Burke