Gerry Burke: a Quintessential New Yorker
Born and bred in Manhattan, its ineffable energy afforded me the opportunity to work at the elite Stork Club, even substituting for debutantes on Sherman Billingsley’s television show and promoting its Sortilege perfume as “Miss Sortilege” on special occasions.
The fun years progressed to an advertising agency with a more parochial view of Mad Men of Madison Avenue with an intriguing real-life cast of characters.
Then, my affinity for fashion led me to the designer-of-the-moment, Anne Fogarty. The excitement of Seventh Avenue is more aptly described by Kirk Douglas in his story; “Rag Man”.
Changing Careers in Mid-Stream
Moving to the desert presented the chance to become Director of Catalog Production for Ambassador Leather seeing it grow in seven years from a ten million to a one hundred million dollar company.
Change is Good; Change is Constant
For the next decade, I was on the staff of The Heard Museum which offered me insight into the art and culture of the world of the Native American. Actually seeing kachinas dance on the reservation is an indelible memory of the Southwest.
Answering a New Call
Heeding the community within me, I phased into serving on the boards of the Phoenix Art Museum League, the Friends of Channel 8, and the Friends of Mexican Art, to name a few. Soon, fundraising began in earnest with the opening of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
After a bout with breast cancer, I developed “In Celebration of Women: Reflections of Women Artists” and convinced 32 artists to generously donate paintings in perpetuity to the Thunderbird location of the Mayo Clinic.
Now, for the past ten years, as a professional consultant, I energized the Book and Author event for the Phoenix Chapter of Brandeis University National Committee, ultimately creating the concept “Writers Can Cook Too” which book won the chapter a national Creative Recognition Award.
Moving right along – like Betty White – Gerry Burke awaits another epiphany.