Steven Burnham

Contemporary painter Steve Burnham turned to the genre of portraiture several years ago. This new body of work bumps into art history while carrying contemporary references. It's about uncertainty, contingency, and process via the portrait and abstraction.


Burnham earned his BA and MA in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, followed by a BFA in painting and drawing from UW-Milwaukee and an MFA from the University of Kansas. Both fields of study, literature and fine arts,  inform his work with words, puns and wordplay integral to the interplay of image and title.


Steadily moving away from his earlier style of illustrative clarity that focused on environmental issues, Burnham has embraced a more intuitive and painterly approach that encourages chance and accepts accidents, making use of techniques including collage, mosaic, recycling, subtraction.


Review, Steve Burnham's Bizarre Portraiture, Shepherd Express

Review, Mixed Up, Muddled Up, Shook Up World, Urban Milwaukee

 Selected Exhibitions

One and Two Person

Shared Terrain: Paintings of Steven Burnham and Robert Tarrel, Edgewood College, Madison, WI and UW-Sheboygan, 2011

Greater Milwaukee Foundation's Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowship Exhibition, Inova, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, 2005

Group Exhibition

Forward 2018: A Survey of Wisconsin Art Now, Charles Allis Art Museum, Milwaukee, 2018

The Nohl Fellowship at 15, Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University, Milwaukee 2018

NOW Figuration, Portrait Society Gallery, Milwaukee 2017

Sampling Treasures: AGSL Materials Used in a World of Ways, American Geographical Society Library, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 2017

Heads or Tails, Portrait Society Gallery, Milwaukee 2016

Nohl Fellowship Installation, MAM After Dark, Milwaukee Art Museum 2011

Orphans and Kitties Go to the Circus, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions Benefit, Los Angeles 2009


Collaborative installation with James Pederson in Fountain of Youth exhibition, MAM After Dark, Milwaukee Art Museum, 2009

Appeared in Flying: Practical Training for Beginners (1999), Film by Luca Buvoli, Premiered at John Weber Gallery, New York, 1999

Wall installation for La MaMa in Print: The Paper Trail: International Selections from the La MaMa Experimental Theater Archive, 1998, at Cooper Union, New York. Reinstalled in La MaMa Theater, New York, 1999


Greater Milwaukee Foundation's Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowship for Individual Artists ( Emerging Artist Category) 2004

Lockwood Scholarship, University of Kansas, 1994-95, 1995-96, 1996-97 


Historic Third Ward

207 E. Buffalo St. Ste. 526

Milwaukee, WI 53202

© 2020 Portrait Society Gallery​





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