Burchfield-Penney Art Center

Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State College

Buffalo, NY




Charles E. Burchfield Paintings Donated to Burchfield-Penney Art Center at Buffalo State College


The Burchfield-Penney Art Center at Buffalo State College recently announced (May, 2000) the donation of two important watercolors by Charles E. Burchfield through the generosity of Dr. Meyer and Mrs. Ann Riwchun. Their bequest of Winter Sun and Backyards (1947) (see left) and Early Spring Sunlight (1950) (see right) vitally contributes to the holdings in the Center's nationally significant collection. The Riwchun donation will be presented to the public in a special exhibition opening June 10, 2000 and continuing through October 1, 2000.

"These watercolors are crucial additions to the Burchfield collection," stated Nancy Weekly, head of collections and programs and Charles Cary Rumsey Curator at the Center. "They represent the post-war years when Burchfield frequently transformed familiar sights from his Gardenville neighborhood into poetic visual statements about the vibrancy of life, the beauty of the natural world, and his ecstatic personal regard for the physical change of seasons as a metaphor for hope."

Large watercolors of the late 1940s and early 1950s had been underrepresented in the collection prior to the Riwchuns' donation. Both Winter Sun and Backyards and Early Spring Sunlight demonstrate Burchfield's unique ability to capture the lilting sunlight, graceful tree limbs, and shadow-laced ground that surround average family homes and often go unnoticed. Both paintings are views from Burchfield's backyard on Clinton Street.

Dr. Riwchun passed away in 1997, followed by his wife in 1999. They were very community-minded people. Wayne D. Wisbaum, the Riwchuns' friend and counsel and a senior partner in the Buffalo law firm Kavinoky & Cook, said that "it was always the Riwchuns' wish that these two beautiful paintings be given to the Burchfield-Penney Art Center to be enjoyed by the people of Buffalo and Western New York."

The Riwchuns were well known for their lifetime contributions and leadership in the community. Dr. Riwchun was a renowned ophthalmologist. His illustrious career included being the head of all eye services for the United States Armed Forces during World War II. Headquartered at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., his patients included such historic figures as General of the Army George C. Marshall and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko. After the war he returned to Buffalo where he became chairman of the departments of ophthalmology at both Buffalo General Hospital and Children's Hospital. He also became chairman of the department of ophthalmology at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and was later an adjunct professor at the University Medical School, lecturing widely throughout the United States and Europe. He maintained a medical and consulting practice into his eighties. Charles Burchfield was one of Dr. Riwchun's patients.

Ann Riwchun contributed significantly to the community in a volunteer capacity. She was the first woman president of the Blind Association, president of the Buffalo Red Cross, and president of the Women's Committee of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. She was named Woman of the Year by the Buffalo Philharmonic. During their time in Buffalo, the Riwchuns developed close relationships with Charles and Bertha Burchfield and acquired Winter Sun and Backyards and Early Spring Sunlight directly from them. The works were hung in the Riwchun home in a place of distinction, reflecting the Riwchuns' love of the arts.

Director of the Burchfield-Penney Art Center Ted Pietrzak stated, "The Riwchuns' donation reflects their commitment to this community and their belief that the finest examples of our cultural achievements should be shared with the public. The Center wishes to thank family and friends of the Riwchuns who encouraged their gift, including Ann's brothers, Mortimer Spiller and Dr. Henry Spiller and their wives Harriet and Jeanne; their friends, Peter and Ilene Fleischmann; and the Riwchuns' attorney, Wayne D. Wisbaum, executor of the Riwchun estate."

Read more about the Burchfield - Penney Art Center in Resource Library Magazine

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 2/4/11

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