Artist motivated by 'nostalgia' making his mark on the Milwaukee art scene and beyond

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- When you look at a piece of art by Burton Gross, it's a unique piece of work that may take you on a trip down memory lane.

"I'm 100-percent motivated by nostalgia," Gross said. ""I loved how cameras were on the Muppet puppets and the lighting and things like that, just as a young kid. I love taking those scenes that I remember, everyone remembers them differently, and I will paint them how I remember them."

Inspired by the works of Jim Henson, Gross has been bringing scenes to life for years through paintings, sculptures, and other interesting projects. For the last year and a half, it's not only been a passion, but also his livelihood.

"It's going better than I thought it would right now, at this point," Gross explained. "I'm learning a lot about doing things on my own and that sort of thing."

Gross considers himself an all-around artist, focusing a lot of his projects on pop culture. He says his clientele is just as open-ended as his next project.

"I've got zero demographic. It's from the entire range from children to senior citizens; everywhere in between," Gross said. "From a creative point of view, it's whatever I feel like making. I know there will be someone out there that will probably be interested in it."

Gross studied art and film at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. That education then led him to Florida where, after studying sculpturing and 3-D modeling, he was given an opportunity to work for Pixar.

"I was actually the top of my class and was recommended to go onto Pixar. That's like becoming a Rockstar," Gross said. "It was sort of the dream."

His dreams, however, changed.

"Working for a big place like Pixar is very monotonous and very tedious," Gross said. "The end result is awesome, of course, and you're part of history when you work on something like that. "In studying and learning how that industry works, it became less of something I wanted to do."

Gross returned to Wisconsin where he took a job as the lead artist at the Mitchell Park Domes. There, was able to use his own creative decisions to bring a piece of Milwaukee history for life for over a decade.

"It was a great opportunity to show off my artwork and bring something to people in a venue that is affordable for people," Gross said. "I very much tried to make it super kid friendly and something above and just different from anything else you'd see in the city."

Now, for the last year and a half, he's his own boss, working from a small room in his west side apartment bringing projects to live for not only himself, but loyal followers that have begun to seek out his work, and recognize it across the nation.

"I'm now at the point where people are out of town and ask if this is something I painted, hanging in this house somewhere and, it is. That's kind of a cool thing," Gross said. "I make things for people who want unique and special things."

As he continues to find joy in creating those special things, he hopes people will continue to seek his expertise for years and years to come.

"I don't hope for anything like massively huge, no fame or anything like that," Gross said. "I just want people to keep coming to me for it and to keep me busy until I'm gone. Just keep coming to me with cool ideas or things that are really meaningful to you, and I'll make it happen."

Burton gross can be contacted through his website: https://www.burtonjgross.com/

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