Saturday, November 16, 2013

Weather Event, featuring the work of artist Charles E. Burchfield

The New York State Museum will open a new exhibition, Weather Event, featuring the work of artist Charles E. Burchfield and his colorful depictions of the weather south of Lake Erie on November 2, 2013.

On display in the West Gallery through February 23, 2014, the exhibition features over sixty works of art, including watercolors, sketches and Burchfield's journals. The exhibition was first organized by and presented at the Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State.

"Charles Burchfield (1893-1967) was an artist, writer, designer, and naturalist whose character was defined by his observation of the here, the now and the hereafter," said Anthony Bannon PhD, Executive Director of Burchfield Penney Art Center. "This exhibition, drawn from the 26,000 objects in the Burchfield archive at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, observes the artist's contemplative transcription of weather, the cycles of environment and atmosphere - and what it all meant to him. We are delighted to have the opportunity to share his vision with the thought leaders of our state."

Burchfield's representations of weather, wind, skies and sounds are unique historical records of the environment near Lake Erie, where he lived for most of his life. Burchfield Penney Curator and Manager of Archives, Tullis Johnson, worked with climatologist and Buffalo State College professor Stephen Vermette, Ph.D., to present the dramatic and complex natural phenomenon chronicled in more than 50 years of Burchfield's writings, drawings and paintings.

Dr. Vermette also worked with students from Buffalo State College to recreate historical weather forecasts for the days that many of Burchfield's early watercolors where made. These forecasts are accessible in the exhibit through the use of smart phone technology.

Burchfield's early works were imaginative, stylized landscapes and rural scenes that often incorporated a personal language of symbols. After moving to Buffalo from Ohio, he became engrossed in the city's buildings, harbor, rail yards and surrounding countryside. From this period, his works show an appreciation for American life and a complex assessment of urban life in comparison to the countryside and small town of his youth.

Burchfield's artistic achievement was honored by the inauguration of the Charles Burchfield Center at Buffalo State College on December 9, 1966. He died on January 11, 1967. The museum, now called the Burchfield Penney Art Center, holds the world's largest collection of his work.

Fireflies and Lightning, 1964-65
Watercolor, graphite and white conté crayon with masking tape on joined paper mounted on board
40 x 54 in. (101.6 x 137.2 cm) Purchase made possible with funds from M&T Bank, an anonymous donor, William P. and A. Laura Brosnahan, the Vogt Family Foundation and the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation, 1998

Untitled (Haloed Moon), ca. 1916
Watercolor and graphite on paper 11 x 8 1/4 in.
Charles E. Burchfield Foundation Archives, Gift of the Charles E. Burchfield Foundation, 2006

Afterglow, July 8, 1916
Watercolor and graphite on paper
19 3/8 x 14 in. (49.2 x 35.6 cm)
Gift of Tony Sisti, 1979

Sunburst, 1929-31
Oil on canvas
35 1/2 x 47 1/2 in.
(Frame: 41 3/4 x 53 5/8 x 2 1/2 in.)
The Charles Rand Penney Collection of Work by Charles E. Burchfield, 1994

Landscape with Grey Clouds (Heat Lightning), ca. 1962
Watercolor, charcoal, and white chalk on joined paper
58 x 45 in.
DC Moore Gallery, New York

The State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department's Office of Cultural Education. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is free. Further information about programs and events can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the Museum website at