FARMERS’ CASTLES by ROBERT STRONG WOODWARD
Memorial Hall Museum, Deerfield, MA
September 1 to October 30, 2016
Contact: Suzanne L. Flynt, Curator, at email@example.com
DEERFIELD, MA Farmers’ Castles by Robert Strong Woodward, an exhibition of western Massachusetts paintings, opens at Memorial Hall Museum on September 1. Organized by the Friends of Robert Strong Woodward, a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the artist’s life and art, this exhibition features the painting Farmer’s Castle, a dynamic canvas of the Warfield barn in Charlemont recently donated to Memorial Hall Museum by John Warfield Glaze and Shirley J. Glaze, and five privately-owned and rarely-seen paintings of Buckland, Colrain, and Charlemont barns.
No farm is complete without a barn. Using perspective to literally heighten the barn on the canvas and in our minds, Robert Strong Woodward (1885-1957) succeeded in dignifying this rural structure to a position of honor. Referencing Woodward’s painting Farmer’s Castle—a play on the maxim “a man’s home is his castle”—if a farmer’s land is his kingdom, then the barn is his castle. Essential for housing livestock, grain, hay, manure, and equipment, it is the center of the farm.
Born in Northampton, MA, Woodward turned to painting as a profession after a gunshot wound paralyzed him from the waist down. He found refuge at his grandparents’ Buckland, MA, farm, and in 1910, he briefly studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Woodward ultimately settled in Buckland, MA, and had a successful career.
Surrounded by rolling hills and farmlands, Woodward found beauty and inspiration in his neighbors’ barns. Depicting the barns in nearby Buckland, Charlemont, and Colrain, Woodward sometimes painted the same barn many times. In a 1938 letter to art critic Royal Cortissoz, Woodward wrote “My paintings have something beyond – merely the representation of factual truth… All the tragedy, humor, and struggle of New England farm life are found in this painting of mine.” Especially fond of his barn paintings, Woodward always hoped to mount an exhibition of them, but they were often the first to sell and he could never keep enough in stock.
Robert Strong Woodward was represented by the Vose Galleries in Boston, and Macbeth and Grand Central Galleries in New York. His still lifes and landscapes were exhibited to critical acclaim in New York, Boston and throughout New England. Over his three-decades-long career, Woodward completed over 750 oil and pastel paintings.
The exhibit can be viewed from September 1 to October 30, 2017 at Memorial Hall Museum, 8 Memorial Street, Deerfield, MA. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday (closed Monday) from 11 am to 4:30 pm. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for youth and students (6 – 21). For more information, call 413-774-3768 x 80 or visit our website www.deerfield-ma.org.
Photo Caption: Featured in FARMERS’ CASTLES BY ROBERT STRONG WOODWARD is the oil painting Farmer’s Castle, c. 1940. Courtesy Memorial Hall Museum, PVMA, Deerfield, MA