Excerpted from "Outside-In: The Drawings of Thomas Burleson," The Sienese Shredder, 2009

Even in the earliest pencil drawings, Burleson's touch is assured and expressive. His pictorial range was limited for the most part to what he could draw well-- that is, machinery patterns, abstract shapes, walls and other architectural structures-- which he combined into fantastically dense and inventive capricci.... There is something both gameboardlike and maplike in Burleson's work, with a direct correspondence between the visual journeys that the drawings invite, through machine workings or mazelike enclosures, and the exploratory, improvisational nature of the drawings' invention. The drawings go where Burleson is compelled to let them go, and he is experiencing these places as he draws them.... Created not "outside" the dominant culture but at the very dark heart of the military-industrial complex, these mysterious, elegant, contradictory and ultimately moving works must be considered one of the great unexplored oeuvres of graphic art of the twentieth century.

-Nathan Kernan

Selected Chronology

Born in Waxahachie, Texas
Works as minor-league baseball player, soda jerk, material handler, ad salesman
Navy seaman on a minesweeper in the South Pacific. Convalesced in Santa Cruz, CA before early discharge due to emotional instability
Owner/operator of grocery store/gas station, traveling salesman
Shipping inspector, Bell Helicopter, Fort Worth, TX
Shipping inspector, Lockheed Missile & Space Co, San Jose, CA
Retires and continues working on his paintings, which began in the late 60’s and became his main occupation
Dies in Fort Worth, Texas

Solo Exhibitions

New York, NY; Thomas Burleson: Lone Star II, Luise Ross Gallery
Winston-Salem, NC; Thomas Burleson: Compulsive Complexity, Charlotte and Philip Hanes Art Gallery, Wake Forest University
New York, NY; Thomas Burleson: Lone Star, Luise Ross Gallery

Selected Group Exhibitions

Little Rock, AR; Arkansas Arts Center Collector's Show, Arkansas Arts Center
New York, NY; Pretty, Strange, Luise Ross Gallery
New York, NY; Rare Birds, Luise Ross Gallery
New York, NY; Outsider Art Fair, Luise Ross Gallery booth
Chicago, IL; Intuit Fair of Folk and Outsider Art, Luise Ross Gallery booth
New York, NY; NEW: Thomas Burleson, NOUVEAU: Jean-Pierre Nadau, Nieuw: Jeroen Pomp, Luise Ross Gallery
Jackson, MS; 2005 Art Ball and Auction, Mississippi Museum of Art
Little Rock, AR; Collector’s Show and Sale, Arkansas Arts Center

Recent Literature

Kernan, Nathan. "Outside-In: the Drawings of Thomas Burleson." The Sienese Shredder, 2009, p. 228 - 234 (with color reproductions).

Rexer, Lyle. "Pure Drawing: Looking into the mind of the Late Thomas Burleson." Art on Paper, November/December 2008, p. 22 - 23 (with color reproductions).

Taylor, Alex. "Thomas Burleson." Art News, September 2008, p. 152 (with color reproduction).

Karlins, N.F. “Thomas Burleson.” artnet.com, 15 February 2007.

Glueck, Grace. “A Convocation of the Visionary and Disenfranchised.” The New York Times, 26 January 2007, p. E38 (with color reproduction).

Baker, R.C. “Best in Show: Thomas Burleson.” The Village Voice, 24 – 30 January 2007, p. 53.

Luise Ross Gallery. Thomas Burleson: Lone Star. Illustrated catalog for Luise Ross Gallery exhibition, 2007. Essay by Edward M. Gómez.

Gomez, Edward M. “From the outside in.” Art + Auction, January 2006, pp. 72-77.     (full page color illustration)

Gomez, Edward M. “Thomas Burleson.” Raw Vision, Spring 2005, p. 73. (color

Karlins, N.F. “Is Autistic Artistic?” artnet.com, 21 January 2005.

Public Collections

Collection de l'Art Brut, Neuve Invention Collection, Lausanne, Switzerland
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX