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Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Fireflies and Lightning, 1964-65; watercolor, graphite and white charcoal, 40 x 54 inches; Purchase made possible with funds from M&T Bank, an anonymous donor, William P. and A. Laura Brosnahan, the Vogt Family Foundation and the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation, 1998

The First Exhibition: 50 Years with Charles E. Burchfield

Presented by Buffalo State College, with support from Francis and Cindy Abbott Letro, Dorothy Ferguson, New York State Council on the Arts, and ILove NY

On View Friday, November 11, 2016, 5:30 pm–Sunday, March 26, 2017 5 pm

Anthony J. Sisti Gallery   Charles E. Burchfield Rotunda   John R. Oishei Foundation Gallery  

This year marks our 50th anniversary. Charles E. Burchfield inaugurated the Charles Burchfield Center on December 9, 1966 when he cut the threshold ribbon on a brand new arts institution established to bring together people from the community and campus, with an outward focus on the nation. Former library space in Rockwell Hall—a Georgian-style building that served as an icon for Buffalo State University College—was converted to honor one of the most celebrated American painters of the 20th century, who had lived in the region since 1921 and had become a consulting artist for the college.

Now called the Burchfield Penney Art Center, the museum has grown exponentially, becoming the world’s largest, most comprehensive repository of Burchfield’s art and archives. From humble beginnings in a single gallery space, the museum now resides in the LEED silver-certified building designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects LLC which enables us to embrace a multi-disciplinary focus and explore ways to present visual and performing arts to reflect the dynamics of 21st-century culture and experiences. A suite of galleries is devoted to the ongoing display of Burchfield’s work, with the Charles E. Burchfield Rotunda being the architects’ concept of the building’s fulcrum point and primary destination for visitors.

To honor the museum’s growth in the past five decades, we reflect on our roots, celebrate our accomplishments, and imagine our future. The First Exhibition: 50 Years with Charles E. Burchfield reunites original Burchfield masterworks from public and private collections that have not been seen together for 50 years. The museum’s very first Burchfield painting for the collection, December Storm, is highlighted. Burchfield himself donated studies for this work, which are exhibited with studies and archival materials that the museum has acquired over the past half century. Combined, they elucidate such exceptional examples from the inaugural exhibition as Fireflies and Lightning, Dawn in Early Spring, North Wind in March, White Wings of September, Hemlock in November, and Afternoon Wind.

The exhibition has been curated by Nancy Weekly, Burchfield Scholar, Head of Collections and the Charles Cary Rumsey Curator, who is the leading authority on Burchfield after 35 years at this museum. The First Exhibition: 50 Years with Charles E. Burchfield will be presented November 11, 2016 through March 26, 2017 to launch a series of exhibitions and publications dedicated to our golden anniversary.