Burchfield-Penney Art Center

Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State College

Buffalo, NY



The Poetics of Place: Charles Burchfield and the Cleveland Connection


The Burchfield-Penney Art Center at Buffalo State College and the Cleveland Artists Foundation will present The Poetics of Place: Charles Burchfield and the Cleveland Connection, on view at the Burchfield-Penney February 17 through April 22, 2001. It opens with a members preview on Friday, February 16, from 6 to 8 p.m. (left: Charles Burchfield (1893-1967), Euclid Avenue,1916, watercolor and graphite on paper, 20 x 14 inches, collection of the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, gift of Tony Sisti, 1979)

The exhibition began when Christine Shearer, executive director of the Cleveland Artists Foundation, and Jay Ferrari, one of the foundation's vice-presidents, proposed a collaborative traveling Burchfield exhibition that would be based on works from the Burchfield-Penney's collection. The resulting presentation of Burchfield's early works in association with works by Cleveland artists who were his teachers, colleagues, and associates provides a greater understanding of his development as an artist. Nancy Weekly, head of the Burchfield-Penney's collections and programs, concentrated on works that illustrate the significance of place, a subject that has fascinated a number of Burchfield scholars over the past thirty years. (right: Photograph of Charles E. Burchfield by William Doran)

The Poetics of Place: Charles Burchfield and the Cleveland Connection concentrates on Ohio subjects. Weekly selected Burchfield's paintings from 1915 to 1916, representing his final two years at the Cleveland School of Art, as well as later works that were created when he lived in Salem, Ohio. (At the age of five, Burchfield moved from Ashtabula Harbor to 867 East Fourth Street in Salem with his widowed mother and siblings. He lived there from September 1898 until moving to Buffalo in November 1921.) In his watercolors, Burchfield transformed familiar sights from his everyday experiences into documentary, yet symbolic, visual statements about the vitality and tenuousness of life, as well as the ever-changing environment that is susceptible to nature's unpredictable power and mankind's destructiveness. Burchfield hoped his artwork would awaken a greater appreciation for life by inspiring enhanced powers of observation of the natural world.

Shearer selected works by Burchfield's Cleveland School of Art teachers Henry George Keller, Frank Nelson Wilcox, and William Joseph Eastman and a fellow student, Paul Bough Travis. Keller and Eastman promoted innovative design and introduced their students to Oriental art. The lyric abstraction and poetic rhythms of Chinese landscape painting were studied and adapted to Western subjects. Shearer also chose works by Cleveland artists, including many who were identified with the Berlin Heights style that flourished from 1910 to 1919 and advocated inventive color applications derived from postimpressionist and fauvist painters. The Eastern Ohio artists include George Gustav Adomeit, colorist August Biehle Jr., Carl Broemel (who specialized in urban and industrial subjects), Clarence Holbrook Carter, Clara L. Deike and Grace Veronica Kelly (who were two of the founders of the Women's Art Club of Cleveland in 1912), and modernist William Sommer. Their art capitalized on the use of familiar American subjects, particularly the Mid-Western landscape. (left: Clara L. Deike (1881-1964), Farm, Berlin, Ohio, 1919, oil, 17 x 21 inches, Collection of Jay and Kathryn Ferrari; right: Henry George Keller (1870-1949), William Lee Farm, Berlin Heights, c. 1915, oil on board, 19 x 13 inches, Cleveland Artists Foundation Collection, Gift of Karl Humm)

In addition to the Burchfield-Penney, lenders include the Cleveland Artists Foundation, the Inlander Collection of Great Lakes Regional Painting, Rachel Davis Fine Arts Collection, Helen C. Biehle, Jay and Kathryn Ferrari, Dr. and Mrs. Michael Dreyfuss, Elaine and Joseph Kisvardai, and the Vixseboxse Art Galleries Inc. Funding has come in part from the James Carey Evans Endowment. (left: William Sommer (1867-1949), The Rabbit Hutch, 1913, oil on cardboard, 26 x 20 inches, The Inlander Collection of Greatlakes Regional Painting)

The exhibition premiered at the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, from October 1 through November 27, 2000. It was expanded for presentation at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center.

Please also see: The Poetics of Place: Charles Burchfield and the Cleveland Connection (10/11/00)

rev. 2/28/01., 3/1/01

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. 5/23/11

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