Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Star Openings in the Woods- Wood Thrush, 1947; watercolor on paper, 39 3/4 x 25 3/4; Private Collection, Image from the Burchfield Penney Art Center Archives
Artist Brian Frink wrote this entry for the RACA (Rural America Contemporary Art) community on Facebook in response to a Charles Burchfield in his own words post on November 17, 2013. Read the post at www.BurchfieldPenney.org.
One of my all time favorite painters, he was also very rural. It makes me think of a question, or comment or...well...I'll see how it comes out. It may just be me preaching again.
So much art done today, so much that I look at, seems to be about "covering ones ass". Meaning the artist, rather than exposing themselves to an expressive moment or pivoting towards a particular awareness, covers their ass. They make sure all the bases are covered, all the boxes are checked, all the "i's" are dotted, all the "t's" are crossed and...(I'm out of those cliche's).
Burchfield, seems to do the opposite. His work feels exposed and raw. It's not programmed or even intelligent. In many ways it doesn't seem intelligent at all! It's almost like he is painting from some place of sublime ignorance. A simple response to the world.
That's what I love about his work. It is a simple response to the world.
(Don't jump on me because I know he was thinking about Theosophy and maybe even the fourth dimension, so not so simple)
Now the thought jumps into my head, "yes, but the world is not so simple is it?" Maybe artists today are responding to an increasingly abstract, multi-layerd and fragmented reality. To presume our world is more complex than any other time is the height of arrogance. To me a simple direct response to our world is what this "complex" reality needs.
Anyway...looking at this painting inspired my commentary. I'm working on a blog that will hopefully expand on these ideas. I do, however, think rural contemporary artists have this to contribute to the continuously evolving language of contemporary art...as cheesy or cliche' as it mays sound...we can contribute a raw honesty. An honesty that is, intelligent, ignorant, sophisticated, aware and raw. Such an honesty is apparent in this painting by Burchfield.
Brian Frink is a painter and the CEO of RACA and Editor-In-Chief of RACAonline. He lives in southern Minnesota in the town of Mankato. He and his partner, Wilbur, live and work in the old Blue Earth County Poor Farm, which they have remodeled and renamed as Poor Farm Studios. In it they have space for the creation of Brian’s large scaled paintings and work related to Wilbur’s social justice theater groups. Originally from Plainfield, Illinois (population 2,800), Brian attended undergraduate school at Illinois State University in Normal. In 1979 he moved to Brooklyn, New York, becoming an “urban pioneer” in the then-nascent artist community of Williamsburg. In 1984 he moved to Madison, Wisconsin, to attend graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. He and Wilbur, with their two children Blake and Annakeiko, moved to Mankato, Minnesota in 1989, where he began teaching painting and drawing at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Learn more about Brian and RACA at http://vimeo.com/71351779
In 1966, Charles Burchfield himself cut the ribbon to open the Burchfield Art Center, located inside Rockwell Hall at Buffalo State College. Today, the Burchfield Penney Art Center (renamed to honor donations from Charles Rand Penney) is the gateway to the campus.