Burbank Creative Arts Center Holds City Secret

(Photos by David Laurell) - Virginia “Gini” Causton-Keene showing off two of her works in ceramic and pen and markers that are currently on display in the 2022 Instructors Show at the Betsy Lueke Creative Arts Center and Gallery.

First published in the Sept. 10 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

While secrets are meant to be kept, there is one secret about Burbank that should be screamed from atop the Verdugo Mountains; revealed to the point that it is blabbed about at every place in which two or more are gathered.
That secret is that, since 1989, the Burbank Creative Arts Center, known as the Betsy Lueke Creative Arts Center since 2018, houses a spectacular art gallery and ceramic studio that presents free exhibits that change on a monthly basis. The center also offers a variety of art classes for all ages which include drawing, painting, jewelry-making, weaving and ceramics.
Nestled in the northern corner of George Izay Park off West Clark Street, people who enjoy the center have, for too many years, called it one of Burbank’s greatest secrets. Having been open since the first Bush administration, it is way past time that this gem of the city should no longer be a secret to anyone.
This past week, the center held an opening night reception to kick off their latest exhibit, the 2022 Instructors Show which features paintings, drawings, mixed media work, ceramics, digital illustration and textile creations of 14 artists who also serve as the center’s class instructors.
Michael Hirsh, one of the featured artists who has been teaching ceramics at the center for 17 years, said he and his fellow instructors were glad to be back with a show in the wake of the pandemic.
“We used to do this once every three years,” Hirsh said. “But, now that we are back we have decided to make it an annual event. It’s not just a great way for the instructors to showcase their work, it also gives people the chance to come in and learn about all the different classes we offer.”
A highlight of the current exhibit, of which most of the pieces are available for purchase, is the display of oil paintings by one of the center’s newest instructors, Kevin McCants.

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A graduate of the prestigious Art Institute of Pittsburgh, where he studied fashion illustration and commercial art, McCants has been teaching the basics of fine art for more than 18 years. He has just started teaching in Burbank and next month will be featured at the gallery with more than 75 pieces on exhibit.
The show “Reflect: Reveal,” which will run from Oct. 7-27, will provide his creative view as he incorporates his loves of fashion, high-end store and boutique window displays, with fine art.
“At the most rudimentary level, I paint the images I find in commercial windows, from New York to Los Angeles, from Bergdorf’s to Beverly Hills, reflecting fashion trends and styles, from the past, present and into the future,” McCants explained.
“[My work] features imitation human beings — mannequins — integrated with the real world, the outside looking in. I do that by the use of glazing to capture images of one another floating both inside out and outside in. In some cases, this glazing also gives the viewer the opportunity to see his or her own image floating in the painting as well.”
Along with the works of Hirsh and McCants, the current show features the work of Margo Gravelle, Debbie Henson, Deborah Jenkins, Fran Kissel-Powell, Michael Law, Pam McDonald, Tina McKenzie, Jack Paul Miller, Jay Ribeiro, Paulette Rousset, Anna Zinsmeister, and the gallery’s director, Virginia “Gini” Causton-Keene.
The Betsy Lueke Creative Arts Center and Gallery is named after a Burbank Parks and Recreation Department employee who served for 36 years. Lueke, who died in 2011, was also the founder of the Burbank Fine Arts Federation and served as its executive director from 1976 until 1993. She was an instrumental force in the creation of the city’s art master plan, the establishment of the city’s Art in Public Places program, and the building of the arts center and gallery that now bears her name in the Izay Park complex.
The center and gallery are located at 1100 West Clark Ave. For more information on upcoming exhibits, classes, or to attend the opening night reception for McCant’s “Reflect: Reveal” show that will take place on Oct. 7, call (818) 238-5397.

DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.