MONTCLAIR ART MUSEUM PRESENTS EXHIBITION OF
AMERICAN MODERNIST CHARLES E. BURCHFIELD
See stormy skies, cool breezes, and sunbursts like never before
in an exhibition celebrating the intersection of art and science,
climate and weather
September 16, 2017–January 7, 2018
MONTCLAIR, NJ, August 10, 2017—Opening September 16, 2017 at the Montclair Art Museum (MAM), Charles E. Burchfield: Weather Event is an exhibition of more than 40 of the renowned artist’s lyrical landscape watercolors and drawings that trigger the memories and moods inspired by weather and climate change. His works invite the viewer to experience through the artist’s eyes the environments in Ohio and New York south of Lake Erie. The exhibition will be on view through January 7, 2018.
Individual weather events are examined through both an artistic and a scientific lens. Weather refers to the state of the atmosphere for a given time and place, while climate is the sum of weather events that describes a place or region. Burchfield’s works capture both, with “all day sketches” conveying snapshots of past weather on specific days as well as later watercolors painted over a number of years conveying the character of a place.
The exhibition is organized around themes that inspired Burchfield: the sky, changing seasons, haloed moons, sunbursts and cloudbursts, heat waves, and wild weather. The works convey the artist’s emotional responses to the weather and his desire to portray the invisible aspects of nature, such as sounds and heat waves, by means of visible signs and symbols.
“Burchfield saw nature as a source of spirituality and was especially awed by the changing of the seasons,” said Gail Stavitsky, MAM chief curator. “His works are a reminder that we constantly experience a glorious transformation of the seasons, and a celebration of the skies.”
This exhibition was organized by The Burchfield Penney Art Center at Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY. It was curated by Tullis Johnson, curator and manager of archives at The Burchfield Penney Art Center, and Dr. Stephen Vermette, climatologist and professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at Buffalo State College. It is arranged at the Montclair Art Museum by Gail Stavitsky, MAM chief curator.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
“To me, the artist, interested chiefly in weather—all weather is beautiful,
and full of powerful motion.” — Charles E. Burchfield, 1943
Charles E. Burchfield (1893–1967) was one of the great visionary modern painters of the 20th century. Burchfield started his artistic career at the Cleveland School of the Arts in 1915. His artistic influences include the stylized, simplified forms and vibrant colors in Japanese prints by Hokusai and Hiroshige, Chinese scroll paintings, and Cleveland modernists Henry Keller and William Sommer. Moving to Buffalo in 1921, Burchfield’s foray into realism at this time was inspired by what he saw as the uniquely American aspects and romantic picturesque qualities of Buffalo and its environs. In the 1940s, Burchfield returned to more abstract forms of his earlier landscapes, following this artistic vision until the end of his life.
ONSITE EXHIBITION INTERPRETATION
The Montclair Art Museum will serve as a conduit for connections between art and science through onsite exhibition interpretation and educational resources.
Family Learning Lab
Explore art and science connections in the 3rd floor Family Learning Lab, which has been transformed into a weather station. Let the art of Charles E. Burchfield inspire your own weather-related artwork.
Audio Tour and Radio Broadcasts
Look for the cellphone symbol on select object labels and dial in to an audio tour. The tour includes simulated weather broadcasts for days that Burchfield’s paintings were made between 1915 and 1917. Content for each forecast was taken from a precisely dated watercolor by Burchfield and the associated National Weather Bureau weather map for that date. Conditions were interpreted by Stephen Vermette, Ph.D. and Buffalo State College student Robert Moore.
Share your stormy skies, cool breezes, and sunbursts! Visitors are invited to post photos of their own weather events with #MAMweather. Selected photos will be displayed in the gallery and on MAM’s social media @MAMmontclair.
RELATED PROGRAMS AND ART CLASSES
The Vance Wall Art Education Center at MAM presents a series of programs and art classes for all ages in conjunction with the special exhibition Charles E. Burchfield: Weather Event. Offerings include:
- Landscape Inside/Out, an adult art course starting September 20 focused on simplifying the landscape en plein air.
- Exploring Charles E. Burchfield: Weather Event in Watercolor, an adult art course starting September 21 exploring Charles E. Burchfield’s preferred medium of watercolor.
- Studio Explorers: The Environment We Share, a children’s art course starting September 18 designed to inspire budding artists to create their earliest masterpieces in response to the exhibition.
- Fall Educators Evening, Charles E. Burchfield: From Cloudbursts to Haloed Moons, a free event on October 11 for pre-K–grade 12 educators offering ideas and strategies for integrating art into the science curriculum.
- Weather Week, October 15–22, will feature a series of programs and events addressing current issues of weather and climate change in partnership with other community-based Montclair organizations. This month marks the 5th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.
- 31st Annual Julia Norton Babson Lecture, Charles E. Burchfield: Wind, Sunshine, and Sky, a conversation on October 19 about the life and art of Charles E. Burchfield among three panelists: Tullis Johnson, curator and manager of archives at the Burchfield Penney Art Center; Martha J. Fleischman, president of Kennedy Galleries NYC and chairman of the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution; and Stephen Vermette, climatologist and professor of geography and planning at Buffalo State University.
- iPhone Photography: Capturing Our Environment, a one-day adult art workshop on October 21 that goes beyond the simple snapshot to provide the tips and tricks of taking stunning landscape photos with a smartphone.
- Depicting Nature: Monotypes with Gelatin Plates, a one-day adult art workshop on October 21 taking inspiration from Charles E. Burchfield’s watercolors and applying his symbols, patterns, and color palette to printmaking.
- MSU/MAM Art Talk, In Burchfield’s Wake: Artists Respond to the Environment, an environmental artist panel discussion moderated by Montclair State University Professor Julie Heffernan on October 26.
- Art Forms in Nature, a 3-day adult art workshop starting October 29 exploring the beauty and function of forms in the natural world.
- Family Day: Exploring Our Environment on November 12 invites families to participate in a day of themed exploration inspired by MAM’s current exhibitions.
Image: Charles E. Burchfield (1893–1967), Sunburst, 1929–31, oil on canvas. The Charles Rand Penney Collection of Works by Charles E. Burchfield, 1994, 19994:001.052. Reproduced with permission from the Charles E. Burchfield Foundation and the Burchfield Penney Art Center.