Local woman starting upscale art catalog

From left to right: Doug Burkman, a photographer from Ketchikan; Ann Burkman; Penny DeLance, a quilter from Canada; and Hugh Fraser, a landscape photographer from Canada. The Burkman's met with the artists recently to discuss their participation in the 40NorthArtists catalog. The couple met DeLance and Fraser while in Canada. Photo courtesy Ann Burkman

Just because Patricia Burkman is starting a catalog for local artists, doesn’t mean her photographer husband will be guaranteed a spot in it — according to her, he’ll have to go through the application process like everyone else.

Burkman, who moved to Ketchikan in 2008, is in the process of setting up an upper-scale art catalog and website for artists in Ketchikan, Alaska and Canada. She wants to focus mostly on artists in the First City, since that’s where she found the inspiration for the company, called 40NorthArtists.

“You go on these websites where artists sell their stuff, and they just get lost in this huge, huge ocean of other artists. It’s hard to be discovered,” Burkman explained. “What we will do is develop a website and a printed catalog with about five pieces of art per artist; some more, some less, but about five on average.”

Burkman hopes to feature 40 artists in the magazine, from any art background. She plans on having around 100 to 150 well-connected marketing agents across the country, knocking on gallery doors with the catalogs and introducing artists to high-end galleries in the top markets.  

Burkman was in Idaho on Thursday afternoon, where her web and catalog designer lives, when she took a phone call with the Daily News. What she’s doing now is developing those marketing materials and is seeking artists for the trial run of the catalog in November.

“What comes first — the chicken or the egg? The artists or the company, right? You can’t have one without the other,” Burkman said.

The goal of 40NorthArtists is to gather artists in remote, isolated areas, and be able to introduce them to buyers in Miami, Dallas and many other places. Burkman wants to limit the artwork to the “very best” that can she get, and not everyone who is interested will be granted a contract.

She said she was inspired to create the business by local artists in Ketchikan, like Terry Pyles and Mike Gates. Burkman also has artist friends in Canada, and most of the artists she knows are in remote areas.

One man is a mechanic in a nickel mine in Thompson, Manitoba, Canada — which is “the furthest north you can drive in Canada, and the road ends there.” He works underground every day and takes “the most beautiful photographs you’ve ever seen,” according to Burkman.

“If you’re in New York City and you have talent, man, that’s easy; you could be making a good living,” she said. “But if you’re sitting in a place like Ketchikan, where there’s no roads to anywhere, it’s really hard to make a living I would think.”

She hopes it will beneficial for everyone involved, and after the trial run in November, Burkman plans to launch 40NorthArtists in January. Although it will take months to plan, the deadline for artists to apply is April 30, and Burkman will decided what artists make the cut on May 30.

So far, she’s had 22 artists interested, and is accepting more applications. Those interested in applying should email 40NorthArtists@artlover.com. In the email, the artist should talk about themselves a bit and send a link with their artwork, or they can scan photos to her.

Although not an artist herself, she has an extensive marketing background. Burkman has been in the business since she was in her 20s, and she’s now 61 years old. She has owned retail businesses in the Washington, D.C., area, and she has turned around businesses and a bookstore that was losing large amounts of money and had it profitable within two months.

Burkman wants to represent as many Ketchikan artists as possible, and said she can relate to them in a way.

“I think this will work, because you know, I’m kind of determined to make it work,” Burkman said. “Just as the artists have trouble making a living, there’s not a lot of job opportunities for someone of my background in Ketchikan either, so you kind of have to make your own way.”