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Five decades of work Burlini: Longtime sculptor says 'creativity takes courage'.

Byline: Eileen O. Daday Daily Herald correspondent

Arlington Heights sculptor Joseph Burlini has achieved national acclaim for his contemporary sculptures, which often explore movement, balance and flight, and can be found on public display across the country.

Earlier this month, Burlini was on hand for the opening of a six-week retrospective of his works at the Koehnline Museum of Art at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines. The exhibit features more than 40 sculptures of Burlini's, including those cast in welded steel, bronze, Plexiglas and even gold, and representing his five decades of work.

"It's truly an exciting experience for me," Burlini says, "In a sense, it represents my life's work."

Oakton officials say the Burlini retrospective advances the college's commitment to Chicago art and to the medium of sculpture. Large scale sculptures can be found across the Des Plaines campus, most vibrantly in its sculpture park, which features 25 works.

Nathan Harpaz manages the Koehnline Museum at Oakton and serves as curator. Its stated mission is to "encourage an adventuresome environment for art."

Harpaz particularly likes Burlini's kinetic sculptures that explore movement and balance. They demonstrate not only his creativity, but his understanding of physics and engineering, Harpaz says.

"These kinetic sculptures are the most unique and innovative," Harpaz says. "They display Burlini's art as dynamic, energetic and full of joy."

Burlini's career has stretched more than 50 years. He began working in industrial design after earning a degree from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, but within a few years he left the field in order to pursue his artwork full-time.

He hasn't looked back. During his early years, he designed "kinetic do-nothing machines," and many of those can be seen at the Oakton show. They were made up of wheels, rods, rudders and wings, and were designed to be playful and appealing.

Burlini held an early retrospective in the late 1970s at the Museum of Science and Industry. The show featured 35 sculptures that were filled with motion and created their own sounds, inspired by circuses, parades, airplanes and trains.

Before long, commissions for large scale works came in from corporations looking to make a statement. Burlini's corporate and public commissions now range from the Pentagon in Washington, the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe and at the former Standard Oil Building, now Aon Center, in Chicago.

Local residents walk past one of Burlini's works every time they workout at Northwest Community Hospital's Wellness Center in Arlington Heights. It is a 28-foot aluminum sculpture at the building's entrance titled "Aspire."

More works can be seen at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, in the Rosemont Community Park, in downtown Arlington Heights and at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library.

On a smaller scale, Burlini has sculpted many awards for notable dignitaries, including the Athlete-of-the-Century award given to Muhammad Ali.

At the opening of the exhibit, Burlini mingled with a mix of college professors and collectors alike who came to see his work.

"I enjoyed seeing so many people who have collected my work over the years, all the different genres, and to know they are still enjoying them," Burlini said. "Creativity takes courage. As Picasso said, Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.' That's what I've done; I've kept working."

the Museum of Science and Industry. The show featured 35 sculptures that were filled with motion and created their own sounds, inspired by circuses, parades, airplanes and trains.

Before long, commissions for large scale works came in from corporations looking to make a statement. Burlini's corporate and public commissions now range from the Pentagon in Washington, the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe and at the former Standard Oil Building, now Aon Center, in Chicago.

Local residents walk past one of Burlini's works every time they workout at Northwest Community Hospital's Wellness Center in Arlington Heights. It is a 28-foot aluminum sculpture at the building's entrance titled "Aspire."

More works can be seen at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, in the Rosemont Community Park, in downtown Arlington Heights and at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library.

On a smaller scale, Burlini has sculpted many awards for notable dignitaries, including the Athlete-of-the-Century award given to Muhammad Ali.

At the opening of the exhibit, Burlini mingled with a mix of college professors and collectors alike who came to see his work.

"I enjoyed seeing so many people who have collected my work over the years, all the different genres, and to know they are still enjoying them," Burlini said. "Creativity takes courage. As Picasso said, Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.' That's what I've done; I've kept working."
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Title Annotation:Neighbor
Author:Daday, By Eileen O.
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Geographic Code:1U3IL
Date:May 31, 2019
Words:773
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