Friday, January 13, 2012

Be Bold

Spent yesterday in Buffalo museum hopping with one of my best friends Cathy Reda-Cheplowitz. We toured the Albright-Knox and then the Burchfield Penney Art Center.   One of the things that I love about seeing master works in person is that you can actually see how the artists painted, printed or sculpted the work. Recently I'd been to the Albight-Knox with Jim and when we visited, rediscovering its collection was amazing. Among the works are classics from Picasso, Van Gogh, Marin, Burchfield, Steiglitz, Matisse and more. Poignant at the museum is an exhibition that is "series of Kodachrome photographs pulled from the Library of Congress' Farm Security Administration collection that document the ravages of the Great Depression." ( The museum is a gem.

I had never been to the Burchfield Penney. Directly across the street from the Albright-Knox, its collection and curatorial style is a wonderful complement. Less focused on big manes, this museum seems to focus on high quality at both past and present. Currently it has an exhibit "Art in Craft Media 2011," with a range of thought provoking pieces in metals, glass, and wood.

However I was particularly excited about visiting the Burchfield Penney because it houses the work of one of my current favorite watercolorists Charles Burchfield (1893-1967).  Burchfield was an artist who painted in the Buffalo region and in his time was one of the best known American painters. I've been drawn to his work because he renders nature, atmosphere, and townscapes infusing the work with a profound passion of place.

Driving back from the galleries, the grey sky and the dark silhouetted trees had a new beauty. Were the trees always like that? Or did Cathy and I see trees with Burchfield's eyes?  Perhaps that is what art allows us—new vision and understanding.

Back in the studio today was a rougher start than I had imagined. I could not find this and that and then I could not find the feather I was using as a model. I tore apart the studio, searching through every bag and box, pulling up the floor tarp and going through the garbage. Finally I decided it was a lost cause. One of the dogs must have stolen it. And then I painted.

Charles Burchfield wrote "You are dead—devoid of any emotional attitude toward nature—wake up—be bold, make bold caricatures & conventionalizations."

So "The Wind Resounds—Leaving Addison" is now complete.

"Winnowing fear,
restless, feral winds

surge in my mind,
shifting directions,
gathering force.
I mistake it all 
for chaff —
husks of failure
and deprecation. 
But this wind resounds
from the ancient world
and release has always
been gleaned
from grains of doubt."
—Nancy Compton Williams

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