Burchfield Homestead Society

Charles Ephraim Burchfield, b 1893- d 1967
867 E 4th Street, Salem, OH 44460 - view on Google Maps
330-717-0092
“A house is often more moody than nature. What a rare thing it is. They are built by men as dwellings; windows are put in to let in light - and this strange creature results. In the daytime they have an astonished look, at dusk they are evil, seem to brood over some crime committed or begun. Each one is individual.”
—Charles Burchfield, journal entry, September 15, 1916
Between the ages of 5 to 28 (1898-1921), Charles Burchfield lived in this house with his widowed mother and five siblings. Here he originated his distinctive watercolor style that seems to visualize the vibrations of nature.

ABOUT

Burchfield grew up in this humble frame house and lived here until 1921, when he was 28, already an active and prolific artist. He began painting in high school, even suffering from nervous exhaustion in 1911 in his attempts to depict bouquets of spring flowers. He attended the Cleveland School of Art, where he was exposed to modernist and traditional art. He painted scenes that he saw out his bedroom window, or in the family’s garden, or on walks in the neighborhood. Half his lifetime output of art was produced while living in Salem. The artist said, “Most adults spurn the things of their childhood and consider the yearning for such things in a grown man as a weakness…it is still my belief that …the same relation to nature as an adult as he had when a child, it will not be like it, but the ratio of emotion will be the same.” This home was the bedrock of his art. After his marriage in 1922 to Bertha Kenreich, Charles Burchfield made a living as a designer of wallpaper, living first in Buffalo, NY, and then in Gardenville, NY. By the late 1920s he was able to work full-time on his art, selling his work through the Frank Rehn Gallery in New York City.

Named “Best U.S. watercolorist” by Time magazine in 1856 and “artist to America” by President Lyndon Johnson, Charles E. Burchfield is known for his depictions of everyday American streetscapes and backyard landscapes imbued with vibrant, mystical energy. His talent was described in 1917 by one of his teachers: "Mr. Burchfield sees nature with keen penetration. To him nothing is commonplace, everything is radiant, with beauty all its own. His pictures shock the observer into looking at nature from a new angle. Burchfield paints not merely what he sees, but in addition what he feels about what he sees. His pictures reflect states of mind induced by experiences with the outside world. His pictures reflect moods. They must be judged by those who feel, rather than those who carry a Kodak."

In 1917 Burchfield experienced his most intensive creative streak, completing more than 400 paintings; he called it his "Golden Year." The Burchfield Homestead Society has restored the floorplan that existed in that golden year. The backyard flower garden replicates the 1913 garden Burchfield wrote about in his journals, and painted so often. A small cottage west of the house that Burchfield depicted in his famous “The Night Wind” serves as a visitors’ center.

Did you know...?

Charles used the signs of the zodiac to refine the style of his signature.

SPECIAL RESOURCES

The museum is home to Charles Burchfield’s painting jacket and apron, and many family photographs.

WHAT TO DO HERE

  • Tour the home and garden. The garden is a replica made according to notes from Burchfield’s journal.
  • Visit the “Night Wind” house, the subject of a famous painting by Burchfield, now the visitor’s center.
  • Attend the Art/Artisan Festival, featuring local artists and activities.
  • Attend the Trees and Trains Festival in November and December. This recalls Burchfield’s love of trains and celebrates Christmas with artist-decorated trees.

YOU CAN ALSO SEE THE ART HERE:

  • Burchfield Penny Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State, Buffalo, NY
  • Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • De Young, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York City
  • National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, NY
  • Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, NY
  • Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NY