Brief-description: Explores Charles E. Burchfield’s Passion for Trees and their Conservation through Jan. 17.
Event url: www.burchfieldpenney.org
About: On November 2, 1914, Charles E. Burchfield wrote about dreaming of a group of American elm trees that grew in Salem, Ohio, near his childhood home. “The Three Trees”, as they were locally known, would appear first in a sketch from July 2, 1915. These same trees resurface later in the masterwork of The Three Trees, 1932-1946. By the time the painting was finished, two of the trees were destroyed by a tornado and the third was cut down for the construction of new houses. Burchfield’s love of trees is the focus of the exhibition. Burchfield’s Arboretum.
In July of 1947, Burchfield went on a trip with his wife, Bertha, that ended in Cook Forest, in Pennsylvania. After visiting an old growth section, he wrote: It is impossible for me to write here anything adequate about the beauty of Cook’s Forest. It was beyond anything I had ever imagined—I can think of nothing better than Longfellow’s impressive lines in the prologue to his Evangeline “This is the Forest Primeval”. The glory of these ancient gigantic hemlocks is beyond me to describe.
Two years later in May of 1949 Burchfield wrote about another dream, this time lamenting the destruction of various kinds of trees. Dream Fragment—In Salem—High Street—great open fields with gigantic trees, elms, buttonwoods and maples, with blue-jays flying about—It seemed as if someone on the excuse that the trees were a menace to surrounding houses had cut off the upper branches much to
my disgust. The “scars” where even the highest branch were cut off, were as big as ordinary stumps.
A work from late in Burchfield’s life, Summer Solstice (In Memory of the American Chestnut Tree), 1961-1966, is a eulogy for a lost giant. The American chestnut was devastated by a fungus, which was accidently introduced into North America in the first decade of the twentieth century.