Burchfield Penny great place for students to visit

Andrea Chevalier, Associate Culture Editor

Among all the opportunities SUNY Buffalo State has to offer to students, the Burchfield Penney Art Center is one of the most unique places for students to visit.

Established in 1966, the museum was originally inspired by the works of Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), one of America’s most unique artists. Burchfield was a watercolorist who focused his art on nature, specifically seasonal pieces.

“There are few universities or colleges in the country that have ready access to high-quality art museums on their campuses,” said Buffalo State Art Education Department Chair Michael Parks. “Buffalo State has two, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Burchfield Penney Art Center. The Burchfield Penney has been a particularly valuable resource because it features regionally, nationally and internationally known artists who have Buffalo connections.”

As the museum grew, the Burchfield Penney remained focused on the works of the man it was inspired by, but also broadened its horizons to not only focus on local art, but add concerts, literary readings, lectures, symposia, workshops and special events to the repertoire.

The goal of the Burchfield Penny is to provide artists, students, scholars, collectors and the general public with opportunities to learn and exchange ideas about how Western New York art reflects American culture.

“This is very important for art students and teachers to see,” Parks said. “It provides motivation and inspiration for (students’) own art-making. The Burchfield Penney Art Center has also been important specifically to the Art Education Department over the years. We have had a number of grants, working with art teachers in the public schools and incorporating works and resources at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in their classroom instruction.”

Burchfield Penney Art Center member Kathy Shiroki teaches two graduate courses for students in the fine arts program that introduces them to museum educational programming and potential career opportunities for art educators who might be interested in working in alternative teaching settings.

“We are just trying to connect students with the museum through the activities we do,” Shiroki said.

One way the museum connects with students is through the M&T Second Friday’s program. On the second Friday of each month, the museum hosts an event for not only students, but anyone who wants to come. October’s Second Friday event will be hosted by graduate students from Buffalo State on Friday, Oct. 10. The event will feature experimental poet Peter Ramos with musicians Dave Wasik and Joe Rosler. The event is free to Buffalo State students.

The museum also offers public and private group tours, as well as school and college tours. All events are free to Buffalo State students, who the museum works hard to include in its programming. They also offer students in the fine arts department volunteering, internship, work-study positions and research opportunities.

“They had a great photo exhibit last year where they would put your photo in this room with hundreds of other ones, and they have those live band nights which are awesome,” said Buffalo State student Edward Bryant.

A current exhibit at the Burchfield-Penny is called “Displacement: a Barge Prototype”, presented by the Cameron and Jane Baird Foundation and Howard and Leslie Zemsky with support from Niagara Transformer Corporation, Sam Magavern and Monica Angle and Niemiec Builders Supply Inc. This exhibit features an array of artists from Buffalo that explores the connection between art and the development of culture along the waterways of the Erie Canal. The exhibit runs through Oct. 19.

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