This is the first post in our series where we’ll try to give a brief biography of the artists who make the West End Gallery the special place it is. It’s only fitting that we start with Tom Buechner, who has influenced and inspired countless numbers of painters in this region and well beyond.
Born in New York City in 1926, Thomas S. Buechner attended Princeton University, The Art Student’s League in New York and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. In Amsterdam he studied old master painting techniques with M.M. van Dantzig, a pupil of Max Doerner’s.
Subsequently employed as a designer and graphic artist on the Governor’s staff in Puerto Rico, he specialized in exhibition design and was later appointed to the Display Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The first director of The Corning Museum of Glass (1950-1960) and then director of the Brooklyn Museum (1960-1971), Buechner simultaneously worked as an illustrator for the Chicago Tribunes’s and the Washington Post’s Book World and did cassette jackets for operas – a major interest of his.
In 1972, he became president of Steuben Glass, chairman of the Corning Glass Works Foundation and president of the Corning Museum of Glass. He helped to establish the Rockwell Museum in 1976, serving as its president for ten years. In 1985 he became a vice president of Corning Glass Works.
As author and lecturer, Buechner is known to glass scholars, artists and collectors. He wrote the glass section for the Encyclopedia Britannica and founded both the Journal of Glass Studies and the New Glass Review. He also wrote Norman Rockwell, Artist and Illustrator, in 1971, and, thirty years later in 2000, How I Paint, both published by Harry N. Abrams. His most recent book, Seeing A Life, was published by the Arnot Art Museum in Elmira, New York in 2007.
Painting full time since 1986, he is an established portrait, landscape and still life painter, Buechner has had many one man exhibitions in New York, throughout this country, and in Germany and Japan. He is currently represented by several galleries and portrait brokers . His paintings have been acquired by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Art, among others. He taught in Frauenau, Germany 1988-2007 and teaches in Corning, New York.
Tom and Mary Buechner were married in 1949 and have three children and seven grandchildren.
While this short biography, taken from his website , is very impressive, it only skims the surface of his accomplishments. He has produced an incredible body of work throughout his career , with sublime portraiture, masterful landscapes and highly distinctive still life pieces. His work has graced the walls of the West End since the beginning and his one-man show every autumn is a highlight of the gallery calendar, drawing the interest of savvy collectors from all over. The strength of his work and his knowledge has set the tone for this gallery and has helped us grow over the years.
His greatest legacy, however, may well be the artists of this region who have painted with and learned from Tom. Most of the artists in this gallery have gleaned great lessons, which has strengthened their own work, from their time in the studio and in the field with Tom.
For the artists out there, feel free to share something with us that you’ve taken from your time painting with Tom Buechner, something you’d like to pass on to other painters. We’d lover to hear your experiences.