The Painterly Voice

We Grow Artists Here

Art lives and dies in the unique heart of he who carries it. . . . There is no history of art—there is the history of artists.

—Marianne Werefkin

I’ve worked at the Michener for more than twenty years, and almost from the beginning I dreamed of doing this exhibit.

I’ve put together lots of shows about individual artists both living and dead, and organized plenty of shows that explore one idea or another. But this exhibition is different—not just because of its size (roughly 200 works in three galleries by more than forty artists), but because it gives you a taste of what I’ve seen while visiting countless homes and museums looking at Bucks County paintings.

Something special happened in this corner of Pennsylvania. Something unique. Something, dare I say, important. That “something” is a whole heckuva lot of really good paintings. More than any community that isn’t a big city has a right to expect.

This is one show that’s also twenty-five separate shows, most of which are devoted to a single painter. I freely admit that this structure comes from a personal passion. While many curators love to think up inventive and insightful themes, I’ve always been more interested in the artist as individual—not the rugged loner saving art one picture at a time, but the “connected” individual, the individual who is nourished by a community.

Every good painter learns much by absorbing what other painters have done. The best painters also understand that they’re on a solitary journey in search of that most holy of grails—the painterly voice.

Brian H. Peterson

Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest Chief Curator

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