Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), American Village, 1923; wood engraving, 10 1/8 x 6 3/8 inches; Purchased with funds from the Margret L. Wendt Foundation, 1980
The composition in American Village was taken from the group of false-front buidlings depicted in the watercolor Noonday Heat (1921). By changing the time of day to a placid, cool evening, Burchfield refocuses his subject and tone, becoming more critical of Mid-Western small town life. Instead of three men perched on a front bench outside a store, a group of wicked revelers sit indoors around a table at 3 o'clock in the morning. The drucken card players are oblivious to the decrepit, percariously braced building and their faithfully waiting steeds. Based upon the strict tenets of Methodist evangelism the molded Burchfield's beliefs, the bulding's state of deterioration symbolizes the moral decay he saw in such flawed human subjects.