Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Storm Over Irondale, 1920; watercolor on paper, 24 1/4 x 29 1/4 inches; Image from the Burchfield Penney Art Center Archives
Charles E. Burchfield, Home on My Bicycle
On View Friday, April 12–Sunday, July 28, 2019
In August of 1920 Charles E. Burchfield wrote in his journal about riding on his bicycle from his hometown of Salem, to Irondale, Ohio, an industrial town to the southeast, near the Ohio River which forms the border between Ohio and West Virginia. His painting "Storm Over Irondale" was made based on sketches that he made during that trip. On June 8th of the following year he wrote about riding home from Cleveland to Salem, Ohio. During the trip of more than 70 miles, he stopped in various towns and even fell asleep in the deep grass in a gutter along the road.
On September 29th and 30th of 2018, Tullis Johnson, Julian Montague and Jim Cielencki rode more than 120 miles from Cleveland to Irondale, Ohio following the approximate routes that Charles Burchfield took in on his bicycle in 1920 and 1921. The ride began at the Cleveland Museum of Art in Wade Park and passed by Brandywine Falls in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, his childhood home in Salem, and a number of other sites that inspired Burchfield's paintings during his early career.
Footage captured during the ride will be part of the exhibition Charles E. Burchfield: Home on my Bicycle which will open in April of 2019 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. The exhibition will pair this footage with painting and drawings made by Burchfield at various sites along the route. The exhibition will utilize various objects and ephemera from the route to illustrate the transformation of the American landscape that Burchfield knew and loved. Shorter rides will take place in Buffalo during the run of the exhibition that follow routes that he once rode, or that pass by various sites that were inspirations for his later paintings.