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Dan Burgevin

A Yeoman’s Art

After attending the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1960s, Burgevin moved around the country painting murals and participating in anti-war and anti-corporate activism. He has painted murals in San Francisco, Hawaii, Chicago and New York. But despite all of his traveling, Burgevin says that he has always considered the Ithaca area to be his home.

“My kids were born here,” Burgevin said. “I love this place.”

Of the 13 murals he has painted in Ithaca, Burgevin says that about three-quarters of them have been painted over. But, he says, working as a public artist has forced him to become less attached to his art.

Food for life

One of Burgevin's murals at the old P&C on Hancock Street. (Emily Schuit/IthacaVoice)

Burgevin.VistorsCenter

Another mural by the artist in the Downtown Visitors' Center. (Emily Schuit/IthacaVoice)


“It’s okay,” he says, “I’ll do more! It’s like those Buddhist guys who take that colored sand and make that beautiful Mandala (http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/online/mandala/mandala.html), sweep it away, and dump it in the lake to make the lake sacred. I love that. Art isn’t a product.”

Although the Beverage Center didn’t offer him much to paint the mural, he said that he jumped at the chance paint something which would be seen regularly by the public.

“They offered me me $2,500 bucks to pain a 60 foot mural, and I was like ‘Sure!’ You know, some artists sell sketches for $2,500. Not me. These arms are strong! I work hard for my money.”

And when he’s done with the piece, Burgevin says he’ll feel like he’s given it away.

“I’m a Socialist,” he said. “It’s like: it’s not mine anymore. It’s for any person who’s thirsty and comes in for a beer.”

It may be about the customers when it’s finished, but Burgevin says it’s all about him while he’s painting it.

“It’s a show, you know. I’ve been trying to put myself on stage for years, and there it is. There’s my stage. It’s a scaffold, with me and a brush.”

Dan Burgevin. (Nate Taielleur/IthacaVoice)

Dan Burgevin. (Nathan Tailleur/IthacaVoice)

And the show goes on, but not for long.

During the interview, two women at the center listened on as Burgevin described his mural.

"You're like Ithaca's Michelangelo," one said with a laugh. "The Michelangelo of beer."

Burgevin says he hopes to have the mural finished by September 9. Until then, customers of the Finger Lakes Beverage Center who look up from their shopping will get to see Dan Burgevin, painting his sacred scene.