“Wind Blown Asters”, watercolor, 1951
The Burchfield Penney Art Center
Buffalo, New York
Today, I travel west down the Thruway to Buffalo to see what I can see, and also do some work for my school at R.I.T. I want to start out early and get to the Burchfield Penney Art Center to look at the shows – then walk over to the Albright Knox Art Gallery since I promised that I would represent the School of Art in the search for young talent. Maybe I will see a friend, the Director of the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Anthony Bannon, but sadly, he is out of town.
Down on their main floor, there is some construction going on, I think they are creating a replica of a barge found on the Erie Canal – anyway there is a lot of hammering and sawing, so I am not going to stay too long. On the ground floor there is an intimate show of “Burchfield’s Botanicals” – something right up my alley. I was hoping for some of his sunflower compositions but I found a large watercolor of some fanciful asters in the wind. Burchfield may have spun some wonderfully gothic tales in the paintings that he made, so I was surprised to see the delicate botanical portraits on view in this select show. Also included were some samples of his wall paper designs which echo the art nouveau styles that the culture was just taking leave of when these were made in the early 20th century. Pattern design is part of the Burchfield story, but my sense is that we hold him in higher regard for his large scale watercolors that represent times of the year ( like “Retreat of Winter” ) – and he even goes so far as to try to represent the sounds of the meadows and fields that he loved so much.
Photographer Marion Faller in collaboration with Hollis Frampton
captures a falling watermelon
Just opposite the Burchfield Botanicals ( now until November 9th ), there is a large retrospective of the photographs of Marion Faller ( 1941-2014 ) and the show is titled: “Inquisitive Lens”. Along the first wall I found some structurally cinematic black and white photos that she made in collaboration with one of my old teachers from Cooper Union, the esteemed art film maker, Hollis Frampton ( Marion Faller’s husband ). This brings back memories of the years I spent studying film and the work of artists like Ernie Gehr, Paul Sharits and Frampton himself.
Marion Faller ” Road to Oklahoma “
Collage of color copies, 1979
Marion Faller’s photos in the show are mostly in color and they celebrate the American scene, a whole wall of photos document food signs. Another part of the show featured her collages of color Xerox copies pieced together like an American quilt. I especially liked her ” Road to Oklahoma ” from 1979 pictured above. I had seen these works when they were relatively new in a show in New York City, but I can’t remember the gallery now. I read that she attended the Visual Studies Workshop ( in Rochester ) where she no doubt studied with Nathan Lyons, and she also had a credit from the University of Buffalo.
Cambodian artist Sopheap Pich
After a walk across the street to the Albright Knox Art Gallery I found a dynamic construction made out of bamboo reeds, wire and glue that has an almost mathematical perfection that attracted me. The artist is Sopheap Pich, the work is called “Cycle” and it is BIG.
Clyfford Still “October” 1950
The Albright Knox has a new hanging of Clyfford Still’s paintings that gives them a different space to live and breathe in, and there was a special showing of works by Lucas Samaras. I am constantly reminded when I am in the Albright Knox that they have a very active program that highlights new artists and new acquisitions and the visit to the gallery is always rewarding.
Tacita Dean “The Friars Doodle”
Down a dark hall you can also stop and see a black and white film from Tacita Dean one of my favorite artists working today. Her film is called “The Friars Doodle ” and it is a minute – inch-by-inch cinematic study of a black ink drawing that takes in every cursive movement of the hand, and every recurve reminds me of a dream, or a regret, or a furtive emotion that I have felt….what else can I say?
Paul Feeley retrospective
Upstairs, at the Albright Knox, there is a retrospective for the painter Paul Feeley ( 1910 – 1966 )
and these big colorful abstractions edge towards and away from a minimalist position, strong in color and design -from the early 1950’s through the early 1960’s – and they leave a lasting impression.
While I was taking notes about Paul Feeley, I met the new Director of the Albright Knox – who I nearly bumped into – Dr. Janne Siren, who smiled, shook my hand, and was pleased that someone was paying so much attention to the art!