I went recently with a friend to visit the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, New York which neither of us had yet seen although the new building was opened in November 2008. It stands on the Campus at Buffalo State College at 1300 Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo.
We were able to familiarize ourselves with the works of Charles Burchfield while walking through pristine rooms in the Art Center, inviting us to stay as long as we wished. Admission is very reasonable – adults are charged $9 and senior citizens pay only $6.
Burchfield has a unique, recognizable style, somewhat eclectic since his choice of subjects is varied. He has painted a great deal from memory of his home surroundings in Ohio where he was raised; small-town and industrial scenes are prevalent, using grays, blacks, ochre and tan rather than the brighter, more splashy colors of the spectrum. His medium is mainly watercolor. A series of paintings depict what appears to be a haunted house which again evolves from an actual structure near his childhood home. His other great passion was painting scenes from nature in which he then employs the richer colors we see outdoors.
Charles Burchfield is a well-known name in western New York. The Charles Burchfield Center was created in 1966 to exhibit the works of this renowned local artist, as well as his diaries and journals. In 1994, the Center was renamed the Burchfield Penney Art Center to honor the gifts and contributions of Dr. Charles Rand Penney, another prominent local figure. A significant gift from William J. Magavern II in 1998 prompted a plan for the construction of a new museum building which is now in its second year of existence.
Through the generosity of Charles Rand Penney, one room in the museum contains pieces of Stickley furniture – chairs, tables and desks – which were prominent in the Roycroft movement established in East Aurora, New York by Elbert Hubbard at the turn of the century.
We were also able to view paintings as well as pieces of pottery from other well-known artists in western New York since part of the museum’s mission is to feature local artists. Altogether, the Burchfield Penney Art Center is home to 7,500 works of art by more than 600 artists.
The Center is open daily except on Mondays. A gift shop and café are also open during gallery hours. If you are planning a trip to the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area, you should include a visit to the Burchfield Penney Art Center. The phone number is 716 878 6011.