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Walter A. Prochownik (1923 - 2000), Untitled, date unknown; oil on canvas, 80 x 60 x 1 1/2 inches; Collection of Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of Judith Fisher, 2016

Walter A. Prochownik (1923 - 2000), Untitled, date unknown; oil on canvas, 80 x 60 x 1 1/2 inches; Collection of Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of Judith Fisher, 2016

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. By profession, Prochownik was a highly respected painter, a professor of art at the State University of New York at Buffalo for 33 years, and proprietor of his own framing business. His art works were created with consummate craftsmanship. For example, gradated colors that appear to have been airbrushed were actually blended by hand. He took great pride in producing work that conveyed his commitment to conceptually rich, spiritually pure, and compassionate themes.

For his solo exhibition Apocalyptic Landscape, presented at The Center in 1989, Nancy Weekly wrote: “The paintings of Walter A. Prochownik challenge the conventions of American landscape painting, utilize strategies of contemporary abstract painting, and create a metaphoric visual language in a body of work that entices the viewer to rediscover the elements of our natural environment, and with that awareness, instill a passion for its preservation.”

The Center is the institution of record for Prochownik’s career, with holdings in a variety of media, such as this painting that balances geometric and organic abstraction within a single field. —NW