When Jeremy Burger was asked to display his work at the Arts Center of St. Peter, he asked Garrett Steinberg, an athlete he formerly coached and also an accomplished musician, if he would play piano at the opening reception. Steinberg replied, “Yes! This will be fun. We are bringing sport, art and music together at the same time.”

Burger is the perfect example of combining diverse interests and talents. “I love Garrett’s quote because that is so true,” he responded.

“I don’t ask myself, my students or athletes to be the best at anything, but I do ask myself and others to try their best at everything they do.”

Long-time Resident

Work of artist Jeremy Burger - Mankato, MN
Work of artist Jeremy Burger – Mankato, MN

A life-long area resident, Burger lives in Mankato with his wife, Andrea and kids, Maxwell, Zachary and Whitney.

“I have been a wrestling coach for 22 years and a football coach for 21 years at East and West High schools as well as at Dakota Meadows Middle School,” he said. “Currently I’m a PE teacher at Monroe and Bridges Elementary Schools.

“I don’t ask myself, my students or athletes to be the best at anything, but I do ask myself and others to try their best at everything they do.”

Work

Burger works in colored pencil to produce drawings of nature in a style he has come to call Abstract Realism. “Real nature objects with a twist of my imagination,” he described.

His artwork is currently on display at the Arts Center of St. Peter alongside the work of artist Amber Rahe. The dual shows are titled ACCEPTANCE & REFLECTION: Paintings and Drawings by Amber Rahe and IMAGINE IF: Abstract Realism by Jeremy Burger. The exhibit runs through October 27th.

Journey

Work of artist Jeremy Burger - Mankato, MN
Work of artist Jeremy Burger – Mankato, MN

So how did this sports-minded teacher find his way to art?

“There was one individual who was very influential in this love of art and imagination and that was my aunt Jeanne, my mom’s sister,” Burger recalled. “As a young child my Aunt Jeanne helped me develop my love of both nature and art as well as using my imagination to the fullest.”

Burger attended both Southwest State University in Marshall and Minnesota State at Mankato. “I originally began pursuing an art major at both colleges, but art labs conflicted with my sports practice schedule so my art was put on hold. I continued to draw but more as a hobby.”

“Then, seven years ago,” he explained, “my wife Andrea encouraged me to get back into drawing and share it on a larger scale. I began doing juried shows locally and in the surrounding areas.”

The work was well received!

“When people say it makes them happy that is what I like best! I hope people leave with a smile when they see my work.”

“My wife and I became owners of the Anytime Fitness in Waseca. Two summers ago, we were manning our Anytime Fitness booth at the Waseca County Free Fair. I was walking through one of the art displays when Brenda Byron, the Executive Director of The Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council, introduced me to her husband as an artist from Mankato! It gave me goose bumps. That was the first time someone referred to me as an artist! It was a great feeling!”

Process

Work of artist Jeremy Burger - Mankato, MN
Work of artist Jeremy Burger – Mankato, MN

How does Burger come up with ideas and turn them into artwork?

“I often work from pictures I have taken while hiking with my family or just walking in my backyard. I take those pictures and sit down to draw and even escape,” he offered.

“Other times I just create a scene or an object in my mind. At times what I draw is intentional and at other times it is unintentional,” he said. “I made a reference in my artist statement about hearing a musician on the radio refer to their music as ‘Music through a Wizard of Oz lens.’ I guess that’s a great way to explain my style.”

The time it takes to complete one of his works varies, “It really depends on size and how many color layers I use. I would say 4-8 hours or more.”

When asked what he likes best about working on his art, Burger said, “I have heard different ways people explain my work but when people say it makes them happy that is what I like best! I hope people leave with a smile when they see my work.”

“Embrace all of life and try to be the best person you can be. I hope this is the legacy I leave my children, brother, sister, and all the students, and athletes I work with.”

Finally

“When Ann Rosenquist Fee asked me if I would be interested in doing my own solo show, my response was that it would be a bit overwhelming,” Burger remembered. “Then all I could think about was, ‘Is this really a possibility for me?’ Here we are, two years later and it happened! Yes, it was overwhelming at times, but it was so worth it to push and challenge myself. I cannot thank enough all the people who had a hand in this process and that includes Amber Rahe, my co-artist for this dual show.”

Finally, the artist said, “Embrace all of life and try to be the best person you can be. I hope this is the legacy I leave my children, brother, sister, and all the students, and athletes I work with.”

Burger will offer both originals and prints of his work throughout the exhibit at the Arts Center of St. Peter.

Additional Links

Jeremy Burger on Facebook