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Robert Xavier Burden paints toys. He is a modern-day, classically-skilled, master artist. For the last ten years, the focus of his work, and consequently his life, has been creating grand-scale paintings that interweave the toys of our collective youth with ornate patterns and motifs inspired by gothic stained glass, French tapestries, Eastern mandalas and even the wallpaper and rugs of his childhood home.

Robert’s current solo exhibition is running a few more days at the Gregorio Escalante Gallery in LA. Among the works displayed are the epic pieces entitled Optimus PrimeHoly Batman, Space Opera, Flight and Dinosaurs (1/3 of a planned triptych, with aliens and robots being the subjects of the remaining pieces).

I met with Robert at a busy, French Quarter-inspired, counter-style restaurant in Chinatown (definitely not conducive to an audio recorded interview, but I’m a rookie at this). I propped my iPhone against the pepper shaker, pointed it in Robert’s direction, and as we lunched, recorded incredibly interesting stories about his family and childhood; his art, inspirations and sacrifices; and his views on being an outsider in the art world.

I spent the next couple of hours back at the gallery reconnecting with the precious articles of my youth and, surprisingly, longing for the toys and childhood I wish I had.

In the near future, I’ll post the in-depth conversation I thoroughly enjoyed with Robert, over po’ boys.