Joe Orffeo

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March 2014 Retropective Exhibition Part I  link             March 2015 Retropective Exhibition Part II  link

Joseph Angelo Orffeo (American, 1926-2013) Western New York artist, painter, sculptor, and WWII Veteran studied at the Art Institute of Buffalo in the 1940’s and 50’s with influence from the likes of Robert Noel Blair (American, 1912-2003) and Charles Ephraim Burchfield (American, 1893-1967). Orffeo’s art developed in an atmosphere of experimentation, spanning several decades and through multiple mediums.

Whether inspired by the local countryside, southwestern mesas, or pure imagination, Orffeo’s watercolor works might best be described by Anthony Bannon, Director of the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, “…Orffeo reduces, simplifies, clarifies the visions that are given to him. But his is a vision that begins in a voluptuous manner, in many colors, and absolutely unheard of before.”

Nancy Weekly, curator at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY, likens Orffeo’s approach to a concept quoted from Georgia O’Keeffe, “I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at - not copy it.” Weekly asks of Orffeo’s work, “What greater equivalent could exist?”


1926- Born, January 5, Buffalo, NY.

1942-43- Studied at the Albright Art School, Buffalo, NY and at the Art Institute of Buffalo, NY.

1943-46- Served in World War II, in the Navy Armed Guard, South Pacific, received Combat Medal, China Service Medal and several other service medals.

1946-50- Studied at the Art Institute of Buffalo, Art Diploma Projects, Buffalo, NY.

1947- Acted in and designed set paintings for the 13 minute short black & white film, “Seven Beers with the Wrong Woman”, directed by Anthony "Tony" DeCorse and is a parody based off the original 1932 song 'Seven Years with the Wrong Woman', first recorded by Cliff Carlisle September 29, 1932, and first parody recording of 'Seven Beers with the Wrong Woman' by Karl and Harty in May, 1940. The 1947 short film is a pantomime drama that uses paper-mâché masks & cardboard painted scenery to illustrate the folk song about true love lost. Joe Orffeo did the set paintings and also played the 'Piano Player'; Tony DeCorse sets, music, masks & costumes and he also played the 'Singing Waiter'; Mary DeCorse played the 'Woman'; Jim J. Tuttle producer & cameras and he also played 'The Drunk'; and John Cosline as the 'Bartender', Medusa Films Buffalo, NY. The film was shown at the Buffalo Film Makers, CEPA Gallery and at the International Cinema, Toronto, ONT, Canada. In the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library permanent collection (VHS tape).

1947-48- Exhibited, three-man show, Midtown Theater Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1950- March 10-April 2, exhibited, group juried show, "16th Annual Western New York Exhibition", juried by Frederick A. Sweet, Associate Curator of Paintings & Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1951- Exhibited, first solo show, Art Institute of Buffalo, Buffalo, NY.

1952- Exhibited, three-man show, Junior League Gallery, Buffalo, NY. Exhibited, juried group show, Cortland County Fair, Cortland, NY.

1953- Exhibited, three-man show, Ten Yellow Steps Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1954- Exhibited, juried group show, Springfield Art League (Award), Springfield, MA.

1954-55- Exhibited, juried group show, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH.

1955-57- Exhibited, juried group shows, Western New York Shows, Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1956- Exhibited, juried group show, Smith Art Museum, Springfield, MA.

1960-64- Art Instructor at the Hamburg Central School District, Adult Education Program, Hamburg, NY.

1968- Exhibited, solo show, Lakeview Gallery, Hamburg, NY.

1971- Head of Art Department and instructor for the Urban Art Project, Buffalo, NY. Exhibited, juried group show, Buffalo Society of Artists, Buffalo, NY.

1972- Exhibited, juried group show, Daytona Art League (Award), Daytona Beach, FL. Exhibited, juried group show, Stetson University Annual Exhibition (Award), Deland, FL.

1974- Painting instructor at the Center for Exploratory and Perceptual Art, Buffalo, NY. Wrote an article on contemporary art for Snapshots, a CEPA magazine, Center for Exploratory & Perceptual Arts, Buffalo, NY. Exhibited, juried group show, Buffalo Society of Artists, Buffalo, NY.

1976- Exhibited, two-man show, Gallery Wilde, Buffalo, NY.

1978-79- Exhibited, group shows, Burchfield Arts Center, Buffalo, NY. Exhibited, juried shows, Buffalo Society of Artists (Award 1978), Buffalo, NY.

1978-79-80- Exhibited, juried group show, Patteran Society of Artists, Buffalo, NY.

1980- Exhibited, group show, Kenan Center, Lockport, NY.

1981- Exhibited, group show, Carriage House Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1982- Exhibited, group show, "The 25-Year History of the Art Institute", 2 works shown, each artist submitted two works, one associated with the Art Institute and one made in the last year or two, The Artists Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1982-83-85- Exhibited, juried group shows, Members Gallery, Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1983- Exhibited, group show, Tonawanda’s Council on The Arts, Tonawanda, NY.

1984- June 22-July 26, exhibited, group show, "COBRA II", Tonawanda Council on the Arts, curated by Tony DeCorse, Carnegie Cultural Center, 240 Goundry St., Tonawanda, NY.

1986- Exhibited, solo show, Burchfield Art Center, Buffalo, NY.

1987- Exhibited, group show, New Visions Gallery, Ithaca, NY.

1991- Exhibited, solo show, “New World Order”, Big Orbit Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1992- Cover art for Buffalo Spree, Volume 26, No. 1, Spring, Buffalo, NY. Exhibited, group show, Big Orbit Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1993- Exhibited, group show, Big Orbit Gallery, Buffalo, NY. Exhibited, group show, “The Masters of Western New York”, Waligur-Doering Gallery, Hamburg, NY.

1999- Exhibited, two-man show, Arts Council of Buffalo/Erie County, Buffalo, NY.

1999-2000- Exhibited, group shows, Daemon College Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

2002- Exhibited, one-man show, “Shadows in Shadows”, Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY. Exhibited, group show, Anderson/Big Orbit Gallery, Buffalo, NY. Exhibited, group show, Art Dialogue Gallery, Buffalo, NY. Exhibited, group show, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY. Exhibited, one-man show, at the Olean Public Library Gallery, Olean, NY. Exhibited, group show, “Big Orbit Gallery: Ten Years of Spin on Western New York Art.”, Big Orbit Gallery, hosted by the University at Buffalo Anderson Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

2004- Exhibited, group show, “Wet & Fresh: A Survey of Current Watercolor in Western New York”, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY.

2005- Exhibited, solo show, “Fluid Elements”, Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY.

2006- Exhibited, solo show, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY. Exhibited, group show, “An Alternative Course: The Art Institute of Buffalo”, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY, and on Sunday, August 27, as a follow-up to the exhibit, Joe co-hosted a discussion with fellow artist David Pratt (American, 1918-) titled "The Art Institute of Buffalo As They Knew It", Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY.

2010- Spring, solo show, “Progressions”, thirty watercolor paintings shown, Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY. May 22, participated in a panel discussion titled "Charles E. Burchfield Remembered" along with fellow artists David Pratt, Wendy Warner and Burchfield's next door neighbor Jackie Albarella and others who knew and worked with Burchfield, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY. Exhibited, August 3-September 24, group show, "Invitational 2010, Beginning With Nine: An Expanded Invitational", Nine artists associated with the Museum invited nine other additional artists to join the exhibit resulting in a very connected look at how creative minds not only interact but inspire each other, Joe was invited by his friend and fellow artist Wendy Warner (American, 1926-) and had two pieces shown "Red Sun" and "Dark Landscape #7", The Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts, 124 E. Leasure Avenue, New Castle, PA.

2011- July, exhibited, group show & sale, "Echo Art Fair", with three other artists represented by Meibohm Fine Arts to include Dennis Barraclough, Richard Kersting and Agnes Robertson, Buffalo Central Terminal, Buffalo, NY.

2012- April 11, gave artist talk, "An Evening with Joe Orffeo", at the Springville Center For The Arts as part of their ongoing Artist Development Workshop Series, 37 North Buffalo St., Springville, NY. May, exhibited, group benefit show, "Mill Road Scenic Overlook Benefit Exhibition", Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY. Exhibited, May 11 - August 26, group show, "The Artists Among US II: The Burchfield Penney's Members' Exhibition", Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY. June-July, exhibited, group show, 'Summer Feature', "Recent Works by Joe Orffeo", show included 'Friends of Joe' (back room), Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY. In July, Joe became part of the Burchfield-Penney Art Center's Arts Legacy Project (ALP) initiative called The Living Legacy Project (LLP). The ALP is a free, publicly accessible online database celebrating the artists, institutions, and movements that have played important roles in shaping this area’s vibrant arts community. This program was in the planning stages for many years and finally launched in 2012, and was made possible with generous funding from the John R. Oishei Foundation. The Living Legacy Project is one of the largest and most exciting initiatives within the Arts Legacy Project. Beginning in 2012, each year the curatorial staff of the Burchfield Penney selects a diverse “class” of 15 to 20 living artists, both established and emerging, from all disciplines, as a representation of the range of talents, skills, and creativity that characterizes our region. For each LLP artist listed on their site, you will find not only biographical information but images and/or video footage of his or her work, a C.V., an artist statement, and other online resources where available. In addition, members of the Burchfield Penney staff conduct audio and/or video interviews exploring these artists' education, influences, and motives. They also discuss their connection to Buffalo, reveal why they work in their chosen disciplines or media, reflect on key WNY organizations they have been involved with, and offer advice for emerging artists. Joe was fortunate to have been included with the LLP and you can see his page here, and you can also listen to his interview with Heather Gring of the Burchfield-Penney Art Center conducted on July 6, 2012, here.

2013- March 6, Joe passed away at the age of 87 at Mercy Hospital, Buffalo, NY. April 6-May 3, two of Joe's paintings were featured alongside many well known WNY artists in the group exhibition entitled "Water in Motion: Current Watercolor Paintings in Western New York", curated by artist Rita Argen Auerbach, Meridian West Art Gallery, 1209 Hertel Ave., Buffalo, NY. December, 112 of Joe's paintings were donated to the Burchfield-Penney Art Center in Buffalo, NY by Joe's widow Linda Orffeo, chronicling select artwork from his entire lifetime as an artist from the 1940's through 2013.

2014- March 21-April 19, exhibited, solo show, "Joe Orffeo (1926-2013): Retrospective Part I (1940-1980)", Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY. June 6, at 9:00am, Joe Orffeo's ashes were interred at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors, for his WWII service as Seaman 1st Class, United States Navy (Location in Cemetery: Court N70, Section J, Column 25, Niche 3), Arlington, VA.

2015- March 20-April 18, exhibited, solo show, Joe Orffeo (1926-2013): Retrospective Part II (1980-2013), Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY. April 10-May 9, exhibited, solo show, "Joe Orffeo, Retrospective (1980-2013): The Sacrifice", presented in conjunction with Eleven Twenty Projects, the gallery space located at 1120 Main Street, Buffalo, NY, and continuing the journey of discovery of Joe Orffeo’s later works, Eleven Twenty Projects hosted a gallery talk “A Remembrance of Joe” with Burchfield Penney Art Center director Anthony Bannon on Wednesday, May 6, 6:30pm. May 12-July 31, solo exhibition, "Joseph Orffeo: Earth, Sky, Galaxy", Paintings & Sculptures, The Hoyt Center for the Arts, New Castle, PA.

2018- November-January 2019, exhibited, solo show, "Image of Man",  West Falls Center for the Arts, West Falls, NY.

2019- February-June, exhibited, solo show, "Renewed-Abstraction of Color and Form", West Falls Center for the Arts, West Falls, NY. June-uly, exhibited, juried group show, "Along the Rivers Edge", Thousand Island Center for the Arts, Clayton, NY. November, exhibited, group show, "Western New York Artists X8", Carnegie Center for the Arts, North Tonawanda, NY.

Collections: Burchfield Penney Art Center permanent collection, over 112 works of art, Buffalo, NY; 17 paintings in the Collection of Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Roswell Cancer Institute Art Foundation, Buffalo, NY; Vern Stein Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Dean Perry, University of Buffalo, Buffalo, NY; Rich Products Corporation, Buffalo, NY; Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Buffalo, NY; Two paintings in the permanent collection of St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, NY, donated by collector Gary Keem and the estate of Linda Orffeo.

Publications: Hawaiian Weekly, "Genius For Living", by Grace Perkins Oursler and April Oursler Armstrong, unknown page number, also published as a syndicated newspaper, September 11, 1955; Buffalo Evening News, “Beards and Brawn in Boston—The Harbor’s Opening Day”, Picture Page, “They’re pulling for a Big Celebration of the Town of Boston’s Sesquicentennial”, Tug-of-war team photo, Herbert H. Klein, Harold Dinse, William Christen, Joseph Orffeo, James VanLare, Rollin Pfanner, and Louis Liebler, Saturday, April 15, 1967; Snapshots, a CEPA magazine, article by Joe Orffeo on contemporary art, unknown issue and page number(s), Center for Exploratory & Perceptual Arts, Buffalo, NY; Welcome-Western New York, Owl Professional Publications, Inc., Buffalo, NY, pg. 44 with interior artwork, (1981); Buffalo Spree, (cover art), Volume 26, No. 1, Spring, (1992); Western New York Artist Coloring Book, Buffalo, NY, (1993); Big Orbit Gallery: Ten Years of Spin on Western New York Art: Selected Exhibitions, exhibition catalog, pgs. 5, 25 & 78, Buffalo, NY, (2002); Watercolor-An American Artist Publication, (2004); Multicultural Education, the Internet, and the New Media, edited by Roberto Muffoletto and Julie Horton, (cover art), Hampton Press, Inc., Cresskill, NJ, (2007); Burchfield Penney Art Center: Grand Opening November 22, 2008, Burchfield Penney Art Center at Buffalo State College, inaugural exhibition catalog, pg. 58, (2008); Richard Hamilton Stamps, “The Masters of Western New York”, Waligur-Doering Gallery, October 31st to November 24th, (1993); East Aurora Advertiser, Life & Leisure Section, "Artists Open Show", Pg. 4, picture of David Pratt, Joe Orffeo, Catherine Parker and Sarah Prochownik at the opening of Parker's exhibit at Meibohm Fine Arts titled "A Visual Dance" held in the spring, May 20, 2004; and, online biography, "Adele Cohen: A Life in Art".

Other Projects: International Cinema Exhibitions, Philadelphia, PA, (1981); Half Reel Cinema-Channel 7 TV, (2005).

Joseph published numerous art books available for purchase or download (PDF format) through, which he has designed and published himself. The different book series feature numerous watercolor & oil paintings, drawings and other works on paper, that chronicle his works from 1946-2013. Another book, titled 17 Artists, features seventeen well known Western New York Artists. Please follow the link

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For additional information on this artist or for other possible examples of his works, please visit the AskArt link

(Written & compiled chronologically by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., East Aurora, NY, sources: Too long to list here and are furnished upon request.)