Wednesday, February 9, 2011

sloppy

February Thaw, 1920, Charles Burchfield








Main Street, Salem, Winter Day, 1917
Like most in the Midwest, we've had an unusually cold, snow-laden winter. I have loved every minute; breakfasting around the fire, furry hats, fat woolly socks, steaming homemade soups and the pristine monochrome view from my frozen manor windows. Everyone seems anxious for spring, but I dread the sloppy thaw. Main Street, Salem, Winter Day, 1917, by one of my favorites, Ohio surrealist Charles Burchfield, captures this winter perfectly.


Most of Burchfield's (1893-1967) works were inspired by the rural surroundings in his hometown of Salem, in northeast Ohio, many from his own backyard. Dynamically working with watercolor, his paintings have a broad, mystic quality I absolutely adore. Burchfield is regarded as one of the key figures in early American Modernism and one of America’s masters of watercolor. I make it a habit to look for his pieces when I visit my local Columbus Museum of Art.

North Wind in March, 1960-66
Orion in December, 1959

53 comments:

  1. Great post. The first painting says it all. Have you heard about all the buildings and barns which are collapsing around New England. There's a record snow -- then it warms up a bit -- then a cold front comes through, turning the pack of snow to ice -- and the buildings tremble and buckle in the knees and go down. Yikes to think of all the rivers swelling with runoff when Spring comes. Not that it's much of an issue here in Florida these days. (Instead, we've been infested with bluehairs escaping the cold weather of home). Glad to hear you take pleasure in your own back yard. -- Brendan

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  2. It looks different over here! I've missed you Madam Willow!
    Suzy

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  3. Wow! I've been browsing his work online...Thank you for making me aware of this artist. I particularly like a painting called "Study". On one auction site (Cottone?) one of his paintings sold for over $58,000. Guess I can forget about owning a Burchfield !

    Rick

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  4. You may already be familiar with this link, but here it is anyway:

    http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/burchfield_charles.html

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  5. Burchfield has a strange allure, fecund, really. Thanks for highlighting him (art = inspiration).

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  6. oh, I like what you've shared here.

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  7. Rick, I just googled Burchfield's "Study" and it is wonderful. Fantastic color. Thanks for the link. I love that site.

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  8. I'm finished with the cold and I'm not a fan of monochromatic landscapes, but as you know, I'm all about the soup! I've been a cooking maniac this winter!

    But I really commented because I love this painter! Thanks for introducing him!

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  9. Truly beautiful work, Tess. 'Main Street, Salem, Winter Day' is my favourite. It really feels as though the street is melting.

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  10. I've always loved his work, which is rarely mentioned nowadays. Thanks for showing these to us. No thaw here although today a bit of snow is melting.

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  11. Thank you for introducing this amazing artist. How wonderful!

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  12. Wonderful post Tess. I have never heard of him and appreciate the introduction. I love "Orion" that would look fantastic in my house; however, the best I could afford would be a poster. I will enjoy reading about and viewing more of his work.

    I wrote a Haiku about Scottish Lilt and for some reason I thought of you. I am not sure what clan I am from, must research that!

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  13. Gorgeous artwork, Tess. I'm usually not a fan of watercolor, but Burchfield is now my exception...his use of watercolor is what it's all about!

    We've had the most extraordinary photofriendly winter I can remember in years. I've enjoyed it tremendously, but now the kids are sick, the family is tired, and the snow JUST WON'T STOP.

    You mention the sloppy thaw. I told my husband just yesterday to please stop complaining about the winter, as the spring is bound to bring snowmelt and flooding with it. In just a few weeks, we may all well wish for winter to return!

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  14. Tess,

    Oh, gosh.

    You know from some responses and postings of mine that I'm just not that kind of 'winter appreciator' you so ably portray yourself to be.

    Basically 'a Malibu man', snow is at best an amusing oddity or something one may appreciate if it's coming down in a studio while two loving actors are in a fake sleigh.

    To work in it, to drive in it, to negotiate mountains in it . . . well, this isn't a fright wig, it's my own 'electro-shock' hair.

    TFool

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  15. Beautiful! I so wish I had some talent in this area. I guess that is why I so enjoy the work of others! this is no exception. Nice post...

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  16. Yay! So glad to find a new artist to love. Thank you for sharing this.

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  17. I was going to say I'm like you and would like winter to last a few more months but I realize my winter here in Phoenix isn't really "winter", still I prefer the chill to the sweat. The building in the first painting look like faces to me.

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  18. Burchfield was always one of my favs. Great post. I love winter's transformation, and don't care much for the mud of spring. But all will be green again soon.

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  19. A great post, Tess. As a painter who started in watercolors, which I still regard as "the master's medium," I have always had great admiration and respect for Burchfield's work.

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  20. I wanted you to know that I wrote about you today!

    http://www.livinginthemiddle.com/2011/02/education-american-art.html

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  21. Let's hope the mid west 2011 has a February thaw a bit different than Burchfield portrayed...although his work is lovely

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  22. Mmmm...lovely paintings. The Burchfield is magical; I love his work.

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  23. I have to admit that Burchfield's paintings are an acquired taste- he certainly had a very unique and unusual vision of his world.

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  24. tess these works and the artist are new to me but the sensibility of melding the mudane with that world that hovers one step away is something i have always appreciated in artists like klee, lawren harris and now charles burchfield. thanks for turning my head! steven

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  25. Thank you for the introduction to this artist.

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  26. love it...just did an acrylic painting today myself...

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  27. I just commented on someone else's blog how I don't mind February...I still love winter in February...but March, for me, is the never ending month. One reason I dislike March is because of this "sloppy thaw". Everything beautiful is take away. The first painting reminds me so much of the flooding we had last spring. Love your posts that highlight different artists!

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  28. He created that in watercolor? Wow! I love it. Thanks for bringing his art to my attention.

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  29. ah! another mark against snow! I know so many people love it but I am thankful I do not have to deal with it.

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  30. I love the top one. I've seen some of his work before and I always try to figure how who he reminds me of--Great photo of him "in the act!" Wonderful, Tess!

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  31. I love his take on the prominent Orion, about the only thing I look forward to every winter sky.

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  32. "breakfasting around the fire"--sounds luxurious indeed. Sloppy is a good word for this time of year indeed.

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  33. TF and I are of one mind when it
    comes to snow, ice, and the dangers
    of living in the Northwest, where
    foothills for the Cascades and Olympics
    come down into our yards, and sledding
    is all a vehicle can do, as the accidents
    pile up like cordwood, people die,
    people freeze to death stuck in an
    all stop traffic jam on I-5. I used
    to dream of becoming a comic book
    hero, Snowslayer, the man who can
    strangle snow flakes bare handed,
    can throw epithets at the sky and
    halt the snowfall, thwart the thunder,
    lasso the lightning; but alas I find
    that I am just another old fat man
    who struggles with winter.
    Burchfield's work is incredible. Like
    many who hover at the monochrome
    windows at the Manor, on the outside
    looking in, we look to you for our
    Art Appreciation, homespun menus,
    recipes, and wisdom, and poetics
    that are only rivaled by your photography.

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  34. Quite an eerie quality to his work.

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  35. Thank you for the introduction! That first painting is remarkable -- they all are, to me, but that first one is just so wonderful --

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  36. Love his art- Perfect- I feel every chillingly sloppy slushy squish of the boot - the sliding slipping anti gravity result- tail bones take it hard!

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  37. Burchfield is GooooD. And he brings the taste, feel of the chill above the actual cold, the dreariness, the tiredness right to me front door--in Naples FL! Thank you for showing us some of hie 'winter-pieces', Tess.
    PEACE!

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  38. What very interesting paintings. I've not heard of this guy, but (thanks) I shall look him up a bit more.

    I was getting to think that all around the world we were having the same weather, but here we're now well into spring. Lovely warm days, and everyone outside again, doing outside things.

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  39. Thanks for the intro to Burchfield. In such a connected world where we now even get marvels like the new google Art Project to let our eyes take in art from anywhere and everywhere, there is something nice about feeling a special affinitiy for an artist who is almost a neighbor. The North Wind in March sends a chill through me.

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  40. I adore North Wind in March - a beautiful image which depicts winter in our far north of England.

    CJ xx

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  41. I have not come across the artist before so thanks for bringing him to my attention. "Main Street, Salem, Winter Day" is so unmistakably American and twentieth century : painting at its best.

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  42. Love this post. He is one of my favorites too. I knew him better when I was still painting.

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  43. what a wonderful, informative post...almost makes me like winter again :)

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  44. Thanks for introducing me to Burchfield's work. His paintings seem to have a lot of feeling in them. I really like Orion in December.

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  45. I so hate a northern early spring because of the initial ugliness it brings. Dirty and wet. Yuck. We lived for three years in Beavercreek, Ohio and I loved the climate - perfect amount of winter and snow and an earlier spring than Northern Michigan. I so enjoyed traveling to the Cumberland Gap area, too. I love the artwork you posted - I will have to google his name.

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  46. Very arresting paintings, Tess. Quite remarkable.

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  47. Thank you for introducing me to Burchfield. I find these paintings totally mesmerizing. It seems your February slppy, drippy, melty February is just as ours!

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  48. Tess -- Nice to know Charles Burchfield. I was unaware of this great Ohio artist. This was a very interesting post about his work -- thanks -- barbara

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  49. the last is my favorite image.
    so beautiful and the colors are nice and dark.

    xx happy V Day xx

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  50. Well that is definitely extra real!
    extra wet, windy and melting. Thanks for posting these works.

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)