Artist creates first Strasburg mural of the year

Through the Staufferstadt Arts Artist Apprentice program, artist Erik T. Burke works on the first Strasburg mural of the year with the help of Strasburg High School sophomore Alexa Halterman. Briahnna Brown/Daily

STRASBURG — Artist Erik T. Burke is installing the first mural of the year in downtown Strasburg as part of the Staufferstadt Arts mural project. It is expected to be completed today.

Burke, who is based in Reno, Nevada, creates “place-specific” murals across the globe, which was why Staufferstadt Arts, a nonprofit dedicated to installing contemporary mural art in Strasburg, selected him to do the first of three mural projects this year. Daniel Lefkowitz, who works with the nonprofit, said that he thinks the mural on the west side of 238 E. King St. will fit well in Strasburg because it is inspired by the town.

“Like most of the artists we’re trying to get for this program, they are coming to a place and trying to get a feel for a place and doing work that speaks to the community that the art is in,” Lefkowitz said.

Burke said that he found a lot of inspiration for the mural from the Shenandoah River’s scenic route, noting how it twists and turns, and in wanting to create something that also has a universal message, he decided to convey a family as well, connecting the two concepts through the “different pathways we all take,” he said. He also noted that he wants citizens to find their own meaning in his work.

“I wanted to try to create something that was open to the public to put whatever narrative on it they thought fit them and the place,” Burke said. “Not, ‘you can make whatever you want about this and it makes sense,’ but something that kind of leads them in a certain direction but then they still come to their own conclusion and it’s close to the concept.”

This is also the first year of the Staufferstadt Arts Artist Apprentice program, which matches art students from Strasburg High School with visiting artists as they work on the mural together. Sophomore Alexa Haltermanm, who was selected by her art teacher to assist with the new mural, said she’s really excited about the opportunity to work with Burke and Staufferstadt Arts.

“They’re all very nice and kind and welcoming. I felt like a part of the team on my first day yesterday,” Halterman said. “Even though I’m only doing small stuff, it’s still fun to be a part of something so cool that’s gonna be here when I visit after college.”

The two are creating the mural with materials that can be bought at any hardware store: exterior house paint and traditional spray paint. Burke said that he prefers to work with common materials over the more expensive art store products because the regular supplies are more accessible to the public, and creating art with the regular supplies shows that it’s possible for anyone to create works of art.

Weather permitting, Lefkowitz said that they hope to have an unveiling of the mural tonight when residents would get the chance to meet the artist.

Contact staff writer Briahnna Brown at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or bbrown@nvdaily.com