French-born, Texas-based Chloe Burk barrel races and paints Western art with equal passion — as her special C&I collaboration, Western Voices, suggests.
We got to know Chloe Burk when we were producing a big fashion feature and she served as a horse-savvy model. It turns out, the barrel-racing beauty is also an artist. We talked with her about riding and painting, her special 30th anniversary poster for C&I and what Frederic Remington has to do with it.
C&I: What would you like people to know about you?
Chloe Burk: Maybe to introduce myself a little. My name is Chloe Burk (full name Chloe Marie Gaillard Burk). I am originally from France (born and raised), and I make Western art, mostly oil paintings. I have been represented by Parsons Fine Art in Taos, New Mexico, since 2018.
I am also a barrel racer and spend most of my days painting and working my horses. I come from an artisan and artistic family. My dad was a jockey racer and a farrier, and my grandmother was an oil painter as well as a pianist. Growing up riding English and jumping, I gave up my English saddle for a barrel racing one a few years ago. I am passionate about both my activities as they complete each other. I am based in Texas.
Women Through Tangerine Sky by Chloe Burk
C&I: How did you get into art?
Burk: I have always been in contact with art since a young age. Like I said, my paternal grandmother was a painter, a pianist, and also an opera director. We lived on the same property, where I was born and raised and lived till I went away for college. So I had access to paintings and a lot of art books right at home.
C&I: What is your favorite subject matter to paint?
Burk: Mostly horses. Whether it’s a cowboy scene or a Native American scene, there will be horses 90 percent of the time. I grew up surrounded by them. They have a deep meaning to me, keeping me connected to my roots and past as well as my everyday life.
Long Live Cowboys by Chloe Burk
C&I: Your work has a strong folk art feel to it. What kind of art has inspired you?
Burk: Before I got into Western art, I used to draw and paint a lot of folk- inspired art, still with horses, but with more of a bold line to it. I also did some tarot card designs, as well as a collab deck with UUSI. I used to be very inspired by American folk art, European folk art, almost medieval stuff, too. As well as embroidery, appliqué works that I used to make on the side of my paintings, kind of like manual studies. Until I encountered a book about Frederic Remington five or six years ago and that was it! That was what I had been looking for my whole life to paint.
Rain Showers on the Mountain Range by Chloe Burk
C&I: What inspires you creatively in general?
Burk: I am more of an introvert, so I study a lot of books about Western art. Western artists from the past, like the Taos Society of Artists. I sometimes go to museums, but I get more inspired intellectually than physically, so I prefer books. I really started from nothing with all this. I didn’t attend any school or study arts, so these guys were my teachers basically. I studied their paintings at the beginning so I could learn and find my own style down the road. I still didn’t want to give up folk art, so I decided why not mix up the wo!
On a Rocky Trail by Chloe Burk
C&I: You’re doing a special collaboration — a signed and numbered poster print of your artwork Western Voices — with C&I for the magazine’s 30thanniversary. How did you come up with the idea for the painting?
Burk: Western Voices was actually inspired by a study painting I did last year — a double portrait of a cowboy and a Native American man facing each other for the first time. This is a subject I have been meaning to cover for a long time. You can truly feel the millions of questions going through their heads about the future and what will be up next after those first encounters/experiences. In true reality, this is a sensitive topic, and more than ever today as the People are able to voice their opinion and speak up. I think it’s important to not forget what truly happened and not fall into a romanticized idea.
Western Voices by Chloe Burk
C&I: Did you model the cowboy and Indian on anyone in particular? How did you decide on how to dress and equip them?
Burk: This painting is purely from imagination, inspired by all the works I have done in the past. Just trying to express my message through the impact of the color palette and details. Most of my paintings are inspired by the previous one, and the one before, and before etc. Just layers of progress and studied details.
C&I: What do you hope people see/understand about what Western Voices is visually representing?
Burk: Simply to help share history and also the truth, through my humble brush. This did not just happen in the movies, I think it’s important to acknowledge the facts and reality. I am also very passionate and believe in what I do, and I hope people can feel it through this piece.
Garment of Many Colors by Chloe Burk
C&I: You make your paintings available for philanthropic projects. Tell us a little about that.
Burk: Yeah, I did a few fundraisers and donations in the past for the Native American community, especially through Sage to Saddle held by Nate Bressler (sagetosaddle.com), a strong organization aiming to support and take care of kids from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (Oglala Lakota/Sioux Nation) to fund the building of an indoor arena so kids can practice year-round even through the harsh winters. I am just happy to share with people the benefits I get from what I do. I don’t just do it for myself, actually not for myself at all since I don’t even own any of my paintings. I am just happy to help if I can. This is the best reward overall.
Mountain Trails by Chloe Burk
C&I: Where can people see more of your work?
Burk: You can mostly see my work on my Instagram page (@c.m.burk.westernart), where I post all my work and updates. But if you are in the mood to see it in person or purchase an oil painting, I invite you to travel to Taos, New Mexico, and go visit Parsons Gallery (Parsons of the West is where my art is displayed) in the Old Historical town.