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Nancy Dwyer (b. 1954), Mayhem, 1988; Flashe on canvas, 90 x 70 inches; Burchfield Penney Art Center, Anonymous gift, 2008

Nancy Dwyer (b. 1954), Mayhem, 1988; Flashe on canvas, 90 x 70 inches; Burchfield Penney Art Center, Anonymous gift, 2008

Moxie & Mayhem: Acquisitions for The New Museum

On View Friday, June 11–Sunday, September 5, 2010

East Gallery   

The Burchfield Penney Art Center’s collection is always growing, representing a wider array of contemporary Buffalo-Niagara and Western New York artists and improving the representation of those who are well established and historically significant. Exciting selections of artwork acquired in the past three years are featured in this exhibition.

Consider this to be chapter two, following our proud display of noteworthy acquisitions in November 2008 in the inaugural exhibitions throughout our contemporary building designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, LLC. Moxie & Mayhem: Acquisitions for the New Museum features many artworks that have been acquired since that triumphant new beginning. The exhibition’s title literally derived from titles of two artworks: Fool of Moxie in Tin Canoe (a photograph by Justine Kurland) and Mayhem (a painting by Nancy Dwyer). I plucked those words to reflect both the staff’s vigor in pursuing exciting art for the collection and the whirlwind of exhibitions that have been presented in our award-winning building.

A team, comprised of Director Ted Pietrzak, Exhibitions Manager Scott Propeack and me, assembled the exhibition. Together we have worked with the museum’s Collections Committee (comprised of board members, artists and other arts advisors) to seek donations and to raise funds to purchase historic and contemporary art by Western New York artists, including the museum’s namesake, Charles E. Burchfield. We also have worked with a special Collectors Club, founded in May 1986 by a group of museum members interested in collecting and studying Western New York art. After we make a presentation about artworks we would like to purchase, Collectors Club members decide which they will support with their pooled annual dues. We especially want to thank our outstanding acquisitions collaborators: the generous artists and patrons who offer us donations, placing the artwork they prize in a public institution so many more people will benefit by seeing it. What we all have in common is the recognition that art contributes to our quality of life and understanding of the world.

Highlights of the exhibition reflect the pride we take in our cultural landscape. They include 19th century genre painting by an émigré artist in Europe (Burr H. Nicholls), different transcriptions of the regional countryside (by Arthur Kowalski and Charles Clough), surreal images about human interaction (by Virginia Cuthbert and Martha Visser’t Hooft), and large-scale paintings and sculptures that comment on social issues or the persistence of war (by Jackie Felix and Ben Perrone, respectively). We will show just a few photographs from the enormous collection donated by Dr. and Mrs. J. Patrick Kennedy that spans Milton Rogovin’s career and significantly bolsters the museum’s holdings on this internationally recognized documentarian. A few items, such as our first fiber work by Wilhelmina Godfrey and a video by John Pfahl, fill voids in representing artists’ careers more completely. Thanks to generous donors, the collection now has work by artists who had not yet been represented, such as Willard R. Harris, Jacqueline Welch, Alice O’Malley, Megan Greene, Hubert Raczka, and Carl W. Illig, among others. Artworks by William Y. Cooper and John Drummer that the museum hopes to purchase are shown to encourage prospective patronage.

On behalf of the staff, board of trustees and council of the Burchfield Penney Art Center, I want to thank all the individuals who have made the collection as strong as it is today. We also want to thank all those who will become future patrons in support the museum’s mission.

Nancy Weekly
Head of Collections and the Charles Cary Rumsey Curator