Wanna buy a Burchfield?

It was great to see so many of you tonight in our art class on Charles Burchfield. 

He really resonated with a lot of you, and the conversation about his work and style was quite spirited, with fantastic observations on his evocative style and varied images. 

Like the great Italian glass artists Pino Signoretto, Lino Tagliapietro, and Livio Seguso, Burchfield pushed his medium (watercolor) in a way that hadn’t been done before.

Many of you loved his use of tone and color, while others of you were enamored with his beautiful skies, often so moody and cloud filled, reminiscent a bit of Turner & maybe calling to mind a touch of Canaletto. His loose brush strokes evoke movement and comparisons to the Impressionists in general and Van Gogh in particular. 

Burchfield’s early work designing wallpaper in a sense parallels Grant Wood’s forays into textile design, and we can wonder at his influence on later artists (perhaps Hockney’s images of rural England and his Grand Canyon series…)

Some of you were quite taken with Burchfield’s extensive journals. He wrote notes on what he saw on location as well as writing on how inspiration took him while he worked. Whether he was working in watercolor, gouache or even the occasional oil, (all of which we will discuss at the start of next week’s class), he brought an emotional depth to his work that touches each of us in a different manner.  How can you not be impressed by an artist who surrendered himself so much to his painting that at one point he 

wrote that “the picture took the lead and I had to follow as best I could”?

An artist who explored many styles before truly finding his voice, Burchfield was quite prolific, leaving a treasure trove of thousands upon thousands of drawings, numerous journals, and nuanced watercolors behind. 

Once he signed with Rehn Galleries in New York in 1929, he was off and running. I thought you might be interested in one of the paintings the Rehn sold in 1960, and that passed down by descent 

until the last owners decided  to sell it at auction in May of 2018.  Dated “1917-45” with a note that the original study, made over ninety years ago May 22, 1917, was “incorporated in picture”, this painting,  CHERRY BLOSSOM SNOW, is definitely a much kinder and gentler snow than we had here last weekend. 

With lovely brush strokes invoking the wind, blowing spring’s white blossoms off the tree, and bending the heads of dandelions down below, CHERRY BLOSSOM SNOW has that beguiling

contrasting sky in the background. It’s no wonder that this work surpassed Christie’s pre-auction estimate of  one million dollars to sell for $1,812,500.

It was great to see so many of you this evening and I’m glad that the work of Charles Burchfield really struck a chord with you so much. I hope you can join us next week when we look at the differences between watercolor, gouache and oil, before continuing our look at the works of Charles Burchfield, his friend and colleague Edward Hopper, and the self proclaimed “least Pop of the Pop artists” Robert Indiana.

If you like, we are showing another great film this Friday, FACES PLACES, starring French New Wave film director Agnes Varda & muralist JR.

It’s an interesting road movie as the seemingly unlikely duo hit the pavement, creating portraits & images of the people they meet. 

See you next time! 



The Borgias

Just back from taking some of our art & film patrons on tour through the South of Italy & as always, I still can’t get enough of Italian history, culture, politics, etc., even while I am starting to plan next year’s tour.

My art & film lectures this month here at the Library focus on Italian heavy hitters (Art : da Vinci, & Donatello this Wednesday, Oct 17 at 6 pm & 7 pm respectively; Verrocchio oct 24 at 7 pm; & contemporary Italian artists oct 31 at 7 pm; & film: The comedy Buon Giorno, Papà, starting heartthrob Raoul Bova at 7 pm on October 19, & master comedic storyteller Leonardo Pieraccioni’s Al Paradisdo all’improvviso October 26 at 7 pm) and my reading is the perfect companion to this month’s lectures.

The Borgias, by G.J. Meyer ( who wrote an incredible compendium on the Tudors), takes us through the Borgia dynasty & political tumult, upheaval & intrigue of over 240-odd years leading into and through the Renaissance that propelled them into power.

Meyer brings the individuals to life in compelling detail, emphasizing the dangers of various political threats throughout Europe and the Middle East, while also explaining the nuances of diplomatic relations & royal egos at a time when 5 months was considered lightning speed to get a military action in place, and Twitter was just what the birds did.

(Heavenly Bodies @the Met; photo Val Franco, c, October 2018)

As a companion to the Metropolitan Museum’s recent Heavenly Bodies exhibit on fashion from design powerhouses of the 20th & 21st Century & religious artifacts from the Catholic Church, this book also serves to illuminate a segment of the far reaching influence the church held in Renaissance Europe.

Note: Congratulations to the Friends of the North Castle Public Library for the completion of the 58th Annual Armonk Outdoor Art Show in September. All of their amazing volunteer work to mount this incredible juried art show comes back around to support the great art, film and music offerings presented at the library, as well as children’s programming, guest lectures & series. Because of their generosity & hard work, most of these offerings ( like the Wednesday art lecture series & Friday film series) are open & offered free to the public.

Provenance : Author talk tonight at 7 pm : Exploring Art’s Great Con Artists

Some books look at art as a luxury, others look at art from an historical perspective and still others look at art from the down and dirty criminal side. Laney Salisbery’s book PROVENANCE, looks art & the art world from all these different angles as she explores one of the greatest and most elaborate cons ever perpetrated in the art world by con artist John Drewe & forget John Myatt.

Tonight, May 16, I will interview journalist and author Laney Salisbury on her novel, PROVENANCE, and the brilliant but twisted mind of international con artist John Drewe. Join us for a galvanizing talk as we look at this intriguing criminal, and the passionate art experts around the globe who had the tenacity to challenge the art market & bring him down. Free & open to the public.

Film weekend at Whipoorwill Hall:

Leonora Carrington

The next several days will keep you quite busy here at the library, with free film screenings this Friday evening , March 9, at 7 pm; Sunday afternoon, March 11 at 1 pm; and free art lectures this coming Wednesday evening, March 14 at 6 & 7 pm

Wednesday, March 14, the art lecture on the intriguing artist Leanora Carrington will start at 6 pm, to be followed at 7 pm by our scheduled class on photographer Margaret Bourke-White. 

As a bonus, we will also take another look at Columbian artist Fernando Botero between sessions.


(Pictures above: Operation Wednesday, 1969, tempera on masonite, by surrealist painter, Leonora Carrington)

I wanted to highlight several interesting female artists and issues this month of March, Women’s History Month, hence the choice of artists Carrington, Bourke-White & Lavatelli, as well as this month’s films.

One of the interesting things about Carrington was her surrealist style & her refusal to paint for the art market, instead choosing to paint for herself, regardless of whether her work would sell or not.

Born in Lancashire in 1917, Carrington’s life was quite tumultuous, including her heart-breaking relationship with artist Max Ernst and resulting mental breakdown and hospitalization.

Like numerous artists before her, her work, highly personal and symbolic, was central to her sanity & integrity. She wrote about her hospitalization in her book, DOWN BELOW, which was quite controversial at the time of its publication for its indictment of the brutal treatment she received as part of her “care and rehabilitation”.

( it is available through the Westchester library system if you are interested in seeing how Carrington wrote about her confinement).

One of the last active Surrealist painters, Carrington died in Mexico City in 2012 after a life that took her from England to France, Spain, Portugal, the US and finally Mexico, where she was quite politically active.

A strong-willed and passionate person, Leonora was instrumental in founding the Women’s Liberation Movement and did not shy away from the direction her beliefs took her.

During class, I will discuss comparisons between her work and life, and that of other artists and contemporaries including Pollack, Claudel, Kahlo, Eluard, Miller and Ernst.

(Above: Messen, Ernst, Carrington, & Eluard as captured by photographer Lee Miller; Lee Miller Archive)

NOTE: Miller, a fashion model for Vogue, collaborated with and served as the artistic muse for Man Ray. A Surrealist artist in her own right, she also reported on the London Blitz and the Second World War. I will be discussing her work at greater length in April.

I look forward to seeing you next week for an overview of the incredible Leonora Cartington, and her unbelievable personal & artistic journey.

As a reminder- this Friday night, March 9, the film screening of The September Issue,  the documentary on Anna Wintour & the making of fashion mag powerhouse Vogue, is scheduled for a 7 pm start. 

Also, please join us this coming Sunday afternoon for the rescheduled screening of the classic Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn film FUNNY FACE. The movie will screen with an intro Sunday afternoon, March 11, at 1 pm in Whipoorwill Hall.

The following week’s schedule, barring any new storms, hurricanes, floods, plagues, or earthquakes, is as follows:

Wednesday, March 14 – Art- Women’s history month continues with a look at Margaret Bourke-White and thought-provoking images from this internationally respected photographer/artist.

Friday, March 16- film – The Devil Wears Prada- Starring Meryl Streep & Anne Hathaway, this bitingly funny look at what it takes to make it in the high-pressured world of fashion is based on the book of the same name, & the author’s experiences working under Anna Wintour.

Looking forward to seeing you at any or all of the great art and film programs I’ve curated for us this spring!



Valentine’s Day at the Library- no RSVP needed!!!

Come join us for Valentine’s Day art history classes at the North Castle Piblic Library- no reservations needed!!!

We’re covering Georgia Okeefe at 6 o’clock & Amadeo Modigliani at 7.

Little snack will be served!


Free French comedy tonight!

Free tench film

Join us tonight for a free screening of the French political comedy, THE FRENCH MINISTER.

The film, with English subtitles, is about a young writer who gets a job crafting speeches in one of the most dangerous environments in the world: the upper echelons of French politics…A place where nobody wants to get left behind, but nobody wants to admit to being left or right. This is a place where one wrong word can get you fired.

This intriguing comedy is a very timely one indeed. See you at 7 pm in Whipoorwill Hall.

Jan 14- Sunday afternoon at the movies!

Join us at 1 pm in Whipoorwill Hall for a free screening of the classic musical THE BAND WAGON!!!!

A must see for everyone, THE BAND WAGON is consistently rated one of the top 50 films of American cinema! With lush color, memorable songs that are part of the Great American Songbook, gorgeous dancing by Fred Astaire & Cyd Charisse, this funny film is a hot way to spend to a cold afternoon.