July 2016 marks the beginning of the Burchfield Penney Art Center’s year long 50th anniversary celebration, and we will look intensely at the work of Charles E. Burchfield and consider what his work means for our time. We will look at what the region represents and what it means to be of Western New York and consider our collections and the exemplary works by our artists.
To lead into this experience we celebrate and pay homage to a group of artists that defined the arts community at the time of our inception. Charles Burchfield, Harriet Greif, Seymour Drumlevitch, Virginia Cuthbert, Philip Elliot, Virginia Tillou, and Martha Visser’t Hooft are all captured in the painting, The Birthday Party (1956-57), by Virginia Cuthbert. It is because of these artists and those that preceded and followed them that The Center exists.
Nancy Jewett a founding member of the Burchfield Penney, who passed away in January of this year, shared a story with us about our origin – about why Buffalo, NY needed a museum dedicated to its artists. During a panel discussion about our history she conveyed, “At the time [early 1960s] many of us were involved in the arts in Buffalo, as artists, members of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and a variety of artist organizations. There seemed to be so much going on with art in the city that expecting that the Gallery could recognize them seemed impossible. It became important to think about something new, just for the artists of the region.” ... It was Charles Burchfield and the other artists in The Birthday Party that they thought about when creating something meaningful and lasting. ...
The selection of work for this exhibition involved all of the members our curatorial team setting out to create something that was greater than a simple encyclopedic representation of each artist – an honorific remembrance.
Exhibition overview from museum website