Birdsong: Things Absolutely Nobody But Charles Burchfield Would Think of to Paint




Charles Burchfield, Telegraph Music, watercolor
Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY


We cheat ourselves out of meaningful experiences. 

So often we're too quick to turn the page and move on. We overlook things that matter. A job of artists is to say "Not so fast, there's still something here you should see." Art helps to enlarge and to deepen our experience.

I can't think of a better example of this than the painter Charles Burchfield, an artist who loved to leave the well traveled path and find subjects in the unlikely and unexpected places. The sounds of nature fired up his imagination. 

Burchfield Penney Art Center has an exhibition organized by Curator Nancy Weekly on just this topic- Birdsong: Audio-visual Art by Charles Burchfield, but it ends soon- Nov. 29, 2020. Here's a link to the museum's page on the exhibition.

It's odd how birds, while so ever present when we walk outside are notable by their absence in most of American art history. Some great exceptions come to mind (Adubon, the Wyeth's, Joseph Stella). But overall nobody made birds and their sounds a central part of their art the way Burchfield did.




Birdsong installation view at Burchfield Penney 
Art Center, Buffalo, NY



Charles Burchfield, Song of the Redbird, 1917-60,
watercolor, Burchfield Penney Art Center

Daily routine tends to dull us down. Our vision can start to take in less and less of the world. I know looking at Charles Burchfield's paintings about the songs of birds has reminded me to open up my ears again. He's just that kind of guy, sort of treasure really with his unusual and even eccentric view of the world.  

It's not related to this exhibition, but want to sneak in a painting that I consider perhaps the most unlikely subject in American art history- who else but Charles Burchfield would ever think to make a painting out of such an unlikely subject as an exploding seedpod? 
Gotta love it...




Charles Burchfield, Ezploding Witchhazel Pods,
watercolor

 

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