Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Evanston artist Daniel Burnett paints to bring awareness to the city

Elena Scott/The Daily Northwestern
Daniel Burnett in front of his mural inside Reprise Coffee Roasters.

Daniel Burnett, an Evanston artist whose work fills various coffee shop walls, draws inspiration from everything from Pablo Neruda to stories of acid trips.

His unique style of bright colors is easily recognizable to many residents, and his work adorns the walls of The Brothers K Coffeehouse, Reprise Coffee Roasters and the bar Bitter Blossom.

Burnett derives inspiration from his life experiences as he attempts to speak to residents, he said.

“My artwork comes from a place where I felt like I was really struggling and didn’t have anything else in life,” Burnett said. “I felt like art was able to help me through tough times, and if my art can do the same for anyone else — even just one person — then the entire thing is worth it to me.”

Growing up, he said he felt there was greater community support for marginalized groups at that time. He added that public support for people without homes has dwindled in recent years.

Burnett said art can be used as a medium to connect with underserved communities in Evanston, adding that the theme of homelessness is often present in his murals.

The theme also serves as a personal connection to Burnett, as his father struggled with homelessness, he said.

“Growing up when your dad is somebody on the street, it really recontextualizes the way that you see those populations,” Burnett said.

Apart from his murals, Burnett is alleged to have crafted multiple graffiti paintings around the city.

He was arrested in December 2023 on felony charges for alleged graffiti tagging on a local bridge.

He is currently working to get the charges dismissed.

Burnett said graffiti as an art form often is not given due credit. He highlighted Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning as influential figures in graffiti’s artistic history.

“Why is it denied being a formal art form? What it really comes down to is the same old story of small-minded suburbia,” Burnett said. “Where the problem lies is that the general population completely misunderstands it.”

He said graffiti has problematic elements, but he does not think that should completely invalidate its artistic nature.

Local photographer Diana Sanabria said she is often drawn to art around Evanston, especially graffiti.

Sanabria’s attention to detail often causes them to photograph and appreciate art that most people pass daily, she said. They have taken photographs of a number of works believed to be Burnett’s.

“There are some graffiti pieces that are really impressive that I feel deserve a spot out there in the world,” Sanabira said. “I feel like people decorate the world with their graffiti or their street art.”

Weinberg sophomore Erin Poe, a member of the Northwestern Art Review, said she sees a large value in appreciating Evanston’s local art scene.

Through Northwestern Art Review, Poe said she has gotten the chance to dive deeper into the city’s art scene.

“There’s so many cool local artists that we can shed more light on,” Poe said. “Focusing on smaller galleries and local artists can give so much more community to Evanston.”

Burnett said he hopes to continue to pursue art full time, but he has a hard time saying no to painting for free.

Burnett hopes he can continue to offer his art and perspective to the community.

“There’s maybe something missing here, and I feel like I could be a resource to the city for some of the voids I see,” he said.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @elenamarielll

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