Pattie C.S. Burke
My Mother -- My Muse
My mother, Pattie Cotter Slattery Burke, was a beloved art and architecture teacher at De La Salle High School in New Orleans in the 1970s and professor of design science at Arizona State University in Tempe in the 1980s.
I grew up in New Orleans immersed in the early days of her emerging art career in the 1950's and 1960's. My brothers and I were not only surrounded by her canvases throughout our home, but we tagged along with her to many art shows throughout New Orleans. I treasure the memories of running around Pirates Alley next to St. Louis Cathedral while mom displayed her art on the wrought iron fence directly across from the entrance to the William Faulkner House. I also remember the embarrassment when friends came to visit our home and saw her oil paintings of plump naked women -- most famously "The Blue Nude" above the piano. We four boys would go to Audubon Park with her and ride our bikes endlessly up and down Monkey Hill and through the bamboo trails while she painted the scenery.
I never thought about becoming an artist; in fact, I avoided art in favor of sports, debate, and theatre. It was not until my 20s that I seriously studied art and began to enjoy art museums. In 1975 I was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and retreating in Abiquiu. This was shortly after my father's tragic death, and mom came to visit and explore Abiquiu. I will never forget her insistence that we go to see her favorite artist, Georgia O'Keeffe, at her home at Ghost Ranch. I was too young to appreciate the event at the time.
Mom exerted tremendous influence on my own emerging aesthetic sensibilities, and we shared many conversations about our favorite artists and styles constantly over the next 40 years. Whenever I traveled to an art museum, I would call her and we would talk about the art for an hour or more as I walked through the galleries. She never lectured; she always asked penetrating questions that led me to understand the art and artists from my own perspective. I still cannot imagine going to a museum without Pattie --- but in a spiritual sense she is always with me. Mom offered honest critical analysis of all of my paintings, and then once the canvas was completed and "perfect" she became my most vocal cheerleader. I deeply appreciated her perceptive honesty. In fact, in later years I intuitively knew what recommendations Pattie would give for a canvas. I would ask for her critique and smile when her reactions matched my own. She was an incredible teacher who inspired her students to achieve greatness. She evaluated every canvas and offered loving and thoughtful analysis.
I hope that you will enjoy looking at some of Pattie's art work on the links on this page. Watch her video to get a sense of how she integrated her art into the entire fabric of her life. My daughter Michelle is in the process of scanning and cataloguing all of Pattie's paintings, sketches, and sculptures. We hope to one day offer reproductions for sale. Check back in late 2014 or early 2015 for our progress.