Artist Interviews 2023

Beverly Buchanan: Northers Walls and Southern Yards  
By Julia Siedenburg

Beverly Buchanan: Northers Walls and Southern Yards
March 25 – May 13, 2023

New York City is lucky to be the place to premiere rarely seen works by the late artist Beverly Buchanan (1940-2015) in the exhibition Northern Walls and Southern Yards, held at Andrew Edlin Gallery at 212 Bowery. Curated by Aurélie Bernard Wortsman, this playful and joyous show gives its viewers an intimate look into Buchanan’s life’s work. From artworks made in the 70s to the early 2000s, this exhibition features paintings, photographs, wood and cast concrete sculpture, and mixed-media assemblages.

About the artist:
Buchanan is noted for her exploration of Southern vernacular architecture through her art, as well as the relationship between memory and place. She was born in 1940 in Fuquay, NC, and died in 2015 in Ann Arbor, MI. While she was influenced by some of the most vanguard movements of her time (i.e. Land Art and Post-Minimalism), she also focused on political and social consciousness in combination with the formal aesthetics of abstraction.

Andrew Edlin Gallery wrote the following about her on their website: “Buchanan grew up in South Carolina and subsequently earned several university degrees in the sciences before beginning her professional career in New York as a healthcare educator. However, about two years later, in 1971, she enrolled at the Art Students League, where she studied with renowned painter Norman Lewis (1909-1979). From that time on, Buchanan devoted her time to making art, eventually moving back to the South. It was here that she developed her practice of exploring Southern vernacular architecture. Buchanan used found wood scraps or sometimes foam-core to build her “shacks,” a term she bestowed upon the sculptures. Whether inhabited or abandoned, her structures were meant to embody the spirit of those who lived there, what she referred to as “emotional groundings.” According to the artist, “I’m interested in their shapes and how they’re made and how they reflect the people who built them. I consider my shacks portraits. It’s the spirit that comes through the forms.” The winner of numerous honors during her long career, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Buchanan’s work is in the permanent collections of the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Whitney Museum, among others. Her recent retrospective Ruins and Rituals held at the Brooklyn Museum in 2017 received high acclaim.” Despite the rain, patrons did not stay home on opening night. After all, who would want to miss Buchanan’s work being celebrated in a solo show setting? Not us, that is for sure! We were ready to mingle with the excited art lovers and gallery supporters. Young and hip to older and classy, creative enthusiasts to museum representatives, this show had something enjoyable for everyone.

After entering the gallery and making our way past Buchanan’s minimalist self-portrait, we arrived in the first exhibition room. This space featured Buchanan’s artwork from the 70s and ’80s: Early Abstraction. Wanna know a fun fact? These acrylic paintings have not been shown for over 40 years and have, in my opinion, been waiting to be placed back in the spotlight.

In addition, two vitrines with archival material, including a black and white photograph of Buchanan as well as old brochures and descriptions of past exhibitions, were featured in this room. In the middle of the space stood a low pedestal on which were displayed differently shaped dark-colored cast concrete sculptures, which were crafted in the 1980s.

After having spent time admiring the canvases splashed with vibrant colors, sometimes multiple shades dancing in harmony on one canvas, we entered into the second space: Return to Southern Roots. This one radiated with even more colors. Playful flower works on paper done in oil pastel hung on one wall while adorable robots, built out of the most surprising items, such as wooden blocks, buttons, marbles, and ribbons, were exhibited on small shelves. Depending on the angle, one could spot different kinds of small and quirky accessories.

No one could hide a smile when seeing those robot-like sculptures. Overall, the opening night was a complete success in my eyes. More and more people kept arriving. Some seemed familiar with each other, others seemed to have been making new acquaintances that night. I for one would not have missed this event!

So, if any of you should find yourselves walking down the buzzing streets of New York City anytime between now and mid-May, I very strongly encourage you to stop by the Andrew Edlin Gallery and experience this amazing exhibit for yourself. The 6-week-long exhibit is one of the longest Edlin will have running, and that my dear readers, does mean something!

Website: Edlin Gallery

Picture and Story sources:
Met Museum Collection 1

Met Meseum Collection 2


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