Jeanette A. Blair (1922-2016), Field of Flowers, 1970; watercolor on paper, 11 1/2 x 15 3/8 inches; Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of Charles Rand Penney, 1991

Jeanette A. Blair (1922-2016), Field of Flowers, 1970; watercolor on paper, 11 1/2 x 15 3/8 inches; Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of Charles Rand Penney, 1991

Jeanette A. Blair (September 21, 1922-January 6, 2016)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Jeanette A. Kenney attended the Art Institute of Buffalo in 1942, where she met Robert N. Blair, who was her teacher. Later she became a teacher at the Art Institute and he served as director from 1946 to 1949. They married in 1943 and raised a family of three children: Jeanne, who died in 1965, David, and Bruce. It was a family committed to art.

 Both Jeanette and Bob were supportive and exhibiting members of the Associated Artist Organization, Watercolor League of WNY, Patteran Society of Buffalo, and the Buffalo Society of Artists. Jeanette earned many awards at local and national exhibitions including such venues as the former, annual Western New York exhibitions held at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY; the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio, and the Cooperstown Art Association in Cooperstown, NY.

The Burchfield Penney Art Center is proud to own two of Jeanette’s watercolors, as well as a print:

  • Field of Flowers, 1970, watercolor, 11 ½ x 15 3/8 inches, Gift of Charles Rand Penney, 1991
  • Plowed Field, c. 1985, watercolor with charcoal on Arches paper, 22 3/8 x 30 inches, Anonymous gift in honor of Dr. Edna M. Lindemann, 1986
  • Field of Daisies, 1969, 4-color linocut, 37/50, 8 x 10 inches, Gift of Charles Rand Penney, 1991

In addition, Jeanette helped to develop an archive about her career and Bob’s.

Our museum gave Jeanette a solo exhibition in 2007 as part of the series, A Life in the Arts, and her paintings have been included in several exhibitions including Women’s History through Art, shown at the Kenan Center in 1999; Robert N. Blair and the Watercolor Tradition in Western New York presented in 2000, and An Alternative Course: The Art Institute of Buffalo (1931-1956) presented in 2006. In 2012, her painting was among the very first to see in The Artists Among Us II, and most recently, Plowed Field was exhibited in Patteran: A Living Force & A Moving Power in 2015.

Both Meibohm Fine Arts Inc. in East Aurora and Art Dialogue Gallery in Buffalo have featured Jeanette’s artwork. That same year, the Benjaman Gallery in Buffalo presented a solo exhibition of her work, considered by many to be a fitting tribute to a long career. I feel fortunate to have been asked by Nan Clarkson to give a presentation at The Buffalo Club in May 2013 about the family exhibition shown on two floors called The Blairs:  Jeanette, Robert, and Bruce. Six of Jeanette’s landscapes were included, ranging from Backyard Ferns and Dandelions Along Olean Road that conveyed the warmth of the season, to the narrative Americana in The White Fence, Arcade and the lyrical, monochromatic Ravine in Winter.

Clearly, Jeanette Blair embraced the watercolor medium, painting picturesque landscapes that promote the textures and colors of nature that remain unspoiled by humanity. Her underlying ethics of peace also permeated her orientation toward the aesthetically beautiful. Her presence in the art community will be missed.

Nancy Weekly
Head of Collections and the Charles Cary Rumsey Curator