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Walter A. Prochownik

Walter A. Prochownik

Born: Buffalo, New York, United States of America

Walter A. Prochownik was born in Buffalo in 1923, but soon was taken by his parents to Poland where he was raised until the age of 17. He returned to Western New York in 1940. He began his study of art following service in the U.S. Army during World War II in Africa and Europe where he was taken prisoner and held for four months in a German prison camp near Munich. After the war, Prochownik studied in New York at the Art Students League of New York with Louis Bouché and John Carroll, and later he studied with Edwin Dickinson. He also studied with William Rowe and Robert Blair at the Art Institute of Buffalo, which was supported by the Works Progress Administration. His earliest paintings were figurative. By the 1960s, he artist became concerned with depicting light and atmosphere in works that abstractly suggest aspects of the visible world. Sometimes he combined figurative elements within geometric abstractions in some series. His late works reflect his concern for the natural landscape, its fragile beauty threatened by industrial pollution.

Among his accomplishments, Prochownik was named an Outstanding Citizen for 1975 by the Buffalo Evening News, in part for his creation of the Erie County Rath Building mural titled You, the People. It measures 14 feet high by 60 feet long and depicts clusters of people of various ages and ethnic backgrounds who are united within a community that embraces peace.

Prochownik spread his knowledge and passion for painting to many others over his career. He was a professor of fine art at SUNY Buffalo for decades, and also taught at Millard Fillmore College and Empire State College. His works can be found in collections throughout the country including the Burchfield Penney Art Center, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Minnesota Museum of Arts, Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences and the San Antonio Museum of Art.