Ecce Behind Closed Doors Part 3: The Burkland-Syverson Home
Photos by Hillary Ehlen
Ecce Behind Closed Doors is a series that demonstrates how anyone can purchase local art regardless of space and budget. This month, we visited with Melissa Burkland and Grant Syverson who have seamlessly integrated local and regional artwork into their 1898 home. Join us as we paint a picture of the story behind each piece they have been drawn to over the years.
MEET MELISSA & GRANT
Melissa is a Fargo native, and Grant is originally from Jamestown. The two met through a mutual friend while at UND. A few years later, the couple relocated to Wisconsin for work where they enjoyed living in Milwaukee and Madison. In 2017, Melissa and Grant moved back to Fargo. Today, they have settled into the historic Hawthorne Neighborhood with son Isaac (8), daughter Lauren (6) and their sweet rescue dogs, Charlotte and Atticus.
HOW THEY GOT INTO ART
Although neither Melissa nor Grant has a background in art, they both appreciate and try to support local art. “I’ve always loved art,” Melissa said. “We don’t have any background in art. Neither of us has a degree in it. We just really enjoy it and tend to plan our travel around visiting different art museums,” she revealed. For Grant, his love of art began to show itself in Milwaukee. “When we lived in Milwaukee, we lived across the street from the Milwaukee Art Museum. For me, that’s probably where I first started getting into art,” he shared. The Milwaukee Art Museum is an architectural landmark off of the shore of Lake Michigan that houses nearly 25,000 pieces of art.
ART AS A WAY OF FEELING CONNECTED TO THE COMMUNITY
Melissa and Grant were excited when they learned that Melissa’s childhood friend, Mark Weiler, had opened ecce gallery. “I grew up with Mark Weiler, so I was really excited when he opened his own gallery,” Melissa said. They started visiting the gallery just for fun and were drawn to the work of Andrew Stark. “Andrew Stark’s mother was one of my favorite teachers in high school. I didn’t know him, but she was really special to me. It was neat to have something I felt like I had a connection to. Even in Wisconsin, we tried to get things from local artists just because there’s something meaningful about having art that was created in your community.”
“It was neat to have something I felt like I had a connection to.” – Melissa Burkland
At the top of the staircase in the foyer is a painting by Walter Piehl. “I remember seeing it, loving it and not being able to stop thinking about it, so I knew I really wanted it,” Melissa shared. Luckily, she and Grant have similar taste in art. “Wade Square Skirt” was also one of their finds from ecce gallery.
Directly across from their Walter Piehl is Grant and Melissa’s newest piece. It was made by Eric A. Johnson during his artist residency at West Acres. “Grant and I saw this separately and both used the same word to describe it: happy,” Melissa divulged. The couple faced some challenges as they installed it above their staircase themselves. To anyone in a similar situation, they would recommend reaching out to a professional for help.This piece was shown at Jessica Wachter’s #nowords solo exhibition at The Capital Gallery in Bismarck last year. “Jessica was another artist I had loved for a long time, and I was excited to see this piece. It’s on linen, not canvas, which I think makes a really neat background, and I love the color, movement and brightness of it,” Melissa said.