Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), The Night Wind, 1918; watercolor, gouache, and pencil on paper, 21 1/2 x 21 7/8 inches; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Gift of A. Conger Goodyear, 1960
From NYC: BPAC Artist-in-Residence Entry 1, November 30, 2013
Sunday, December 1, 2013
I have spent the day reading the second half of Alana Ryder's thesis, By My Side: Charles E. Burchfield's Letters to Bertha K. Burchfield from 1923 to 1963. Above all, it reveals to me that Burchfield was in the public realm far more than I had realized--in New York to jury shows, attend his openings, and visit with Rehn and other friends; in PA and TX for commissions; and teaching out of state. And while he often expressed longing to be at home with his family, it is clear that he was nourished--creatively and psychologically--by these experiences and social encounters.
Sibelius was mentioned several times and so I finally--I write with some embarrassment--listened to his Symphony No. 2. I also watched a short video with Jeremy Geffen that Carnegie Hall produced as an introduction to Sibelius' Symphony No. 1. As you know me and a bit about my lack of relationship with music--probably related to sensory integration sensitivity--it won't come as a surprise that what resonated most was how important silence was to Sibelius--something he and "generations of composers learned from Tchaikovsky." Silence was something that Sibelius explored throughout his career and became
as much a part of his symphonies as any sound he wrote. He used as a dramatic effect and also to allow time for reflection on what was just heard. My curiosity is piqued, but unlike Burchfield, if I listen to Sibelius again, it will at least at first be to hear the pauses between the notes, rather than the music itself.
By My Side also led me to research about Salem and on the Burchfield Homestead Society's website I was rather delighted to find an interactive floor plan of his home, now a museum, with links to images of paintings attributed to views from specific locations in the house. Just last month I was studying The Night Wind (1918) for the first time at the current MoMA exhibition, American Modern: Hopper to O'Keefe. According to the plan, it was made or inspired from the view from the porch off of the kitchen.
My congratulations to Alana for a thoughtful, important work, and thanks to Scott for encouraging me to read it.
Janelle Lynch is the 2013 Burchfield resident artist. She has garnered international recognition over the last decade for her large-format photographs of the urban and rural landscape. Widely exhibited, her work is in several public and private collections including the Burchfield Penney, George Eastman House Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Newark Museum, the Fundación Vila Casas, Barcelona, and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Salta, Argentina.