Robert Lyall Flock
(American, 1928-2017) noted Western New York Abstract-Expressionist artist, painter, illustrator and teacher, born August 12, 1928 in Buffalo, NY, to parents Baldur A. Flock (1899-1970) and Ruth M. (née Harwood) Flock (1899-1998). Robert is primarily known for his oil and mixed media paintings, mixed media and paper collage work, as well as ink, charcoal & graphite drawings.
Robert’s primary education was at Kenmore High School where he graduated in 1946. He served as a medic in the Korean War from December 12, 1950 until he was discharged on September 12, 1952. Seven days after he got back from Korea, he enrolled at the Albright Art School where he graduated in 1955. He also studied at the University of Buffalo, where he received his B.F.A. in 1958. Robert received fellowships at the Yale-Norfolk Summer School of Music and Art in 1956, and with the State University of New York Faculty Research Foundation in 1970, 1974, and 1976. He taught art in the Kenmore Public School System at Herbert Hoover Junior High School from 1960-68. Starting in 1969, he was an Assistant Professor of Art at Niagara County Community College in Sanborn, NY, and was later promoted to Associate Professor of Art in 1981, where he retired in 1988. He had also briefly taught at Buffalo State College. Robert participated in artists’ cooperative galleries in the 1960’s, including Gallery 10 in 1963 and the Tomac Gallery in 1965.
His artwork has been exhibited in galleries and museums regionally and across the United States, and he has won numerous awards for his work, which can be found in public, private and corporate collections, as well as the permanent collection of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and the Burchfield-Penney Art Center in Buffalo, NY. Robert passed away January 10, 2017 with internment at Forest Avenue Cemetery (Center Section D, Grave 232), Angola, NY.
"Bob Flock was such a bundle of energy, bubbling over with smiles and chatter, that it’s hard to imagine him gone. Few among us could match his enthusiasm. Foremost, he was one of the most vigorous artists in our region. He transferred his physical dynamism onto canvas and paper in artworks that at times reflected his inner emotions, and at other times, the vigor of landscapes in Western New York and Ontario, Canada. His depiction of Niagara Falls is almost synesthetic. He made the hypnotizing power of water crashing into boulders at the base of the iconic waterfalls more intense by resisting the stereotypical use of rainbows, as centuries of artists before him have painted. Instead, Flock’s light refracts into dissonant forms, thick wedges, spiraling lines and stippled notes as if musical notations were torn from a behemoth’s score to play in another dimension. Rather than showing us what we would expect to see, he makes us first hear the awesome, thunderous roar to ponder how Devil’s Hole may have gotten its name.
Camaraderie comes to mind, especially in connection with Bob’s sketching companions Robert Baeumler, James Vullo, and Roland Wise. Their stylistically distinctive interpretations of the Niagara Glen, one of their favorite sites, were exhibited at the (then) Burchfield Center in 1982. That’s probably when I first got to know Bob. All of them were teachers as well as practicing artists—and each, to a greater or lesser extent, taught at Buffalo State College. How interesting to note that the quiet, brooding personalities balanced the more ebullient ones. They respected each other’s work; indeed, they may very well have drawn assurance for pursuing their own directions by contrasting with their colleagues. By all accounts, Flock’s students also appreciated his guidance and encouragement.
Rather than use “Untitled,” Bob often used “Work” as the title for his ongoing series of large-scale paintings. The Burchfield Penney acquired its first in 1991, when Charles Rand Penney donated his collection of Western New York Art. Prior to that, the museum acquired Devil’s Hole, 1985, as the First Prize Purchase Award from the juried exhibition, Niagara Falls: New Impressions, held in 1985. The artist gifted two works after that: Rehearsal for Harriet, November 1988 (a memorial homage to his friend Harriet Greif, who was a beautiful dancer and painter of exquisite non-objective landscapes), and Port Dalhousie, 2003 (an abstract pastel landscape to represent his more recent achievements). In a remarkable gesture of generosity, Bob invited several of us at the Burchfield Penney to visit his studio in 2011 to pick a wide selection of works to represent his career more fully. He was moving out of his home and studio, and valued the museum’s mission to collect, exhibit, and interpret the art of our region. His magnificent gift included 118 works in mixed media, as well as his sketchbooks from Korea, and archival materials, as unique as cow markers that he used in drawing rural landscapes. Our meetings at that time were bittersweet, realizing that our occasional visits to his studio were coming to an end. Nevertheless, the Burchfield Penney Art Center is honored to be the institution of record for Robert Lyall Flock. While his artwork has been included in various thematically based exhibitions, an upcoming exhibition of selections from his 2011 gift is planned for this spring. I am greatly saddened that he won’t be able to visit the exhibition, but his presence will certainly be palpable." —Nancy Weekly, Burchfield Scholar, Head of Collections & Charles Cary Rumsey Curator, Burchfield Penney Art Center and Burchfield Penney Instructor of Museum Studies, SUNY Buffalo State, "Remembering Robert Lyall Flock (1928-2017)", January 12.
Selected Solo & Group Exhibitions:
1956-60- Exhibited, group shows, Annual Western New York Exhibitions, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.
1959- June 7-24, exhibited, group show, “2nd Annual Exhibition of the Kenmore Art Society”, held at the Kenmore YWCA, Kenmore, NY.
1963-67- Exhibited, group shows, Annual Western New York Exhibitions, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.
1965- Exhibited, group show, “Northeast Regional: Art Across America”, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA.
1967- May 28-June 16, exhibited two man show, “Robert Flock & Francis J. Toole”, paintings and sculptures shown, Tomac Gallery, 585 Potomac Ave., Buffalo, NY.
1970- Exhibited, group show, Faculty Research Foundation, State University of New York (SUNY).
1972- Exhibited, group show, Faculty Research Foundation, State University of New York (SUNY).
1974-75- Exhibited, group shows, Annual Western New York Exhibitions, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.
1976- February, exhibited, solo show, Niagara County Community College, Sanborn, NY. Exhibited, group show, Begegnung Mit Buffalo, Auslands Institute, Dortmund, W. Germany. Exhibited, group show, Faculty Research Foundation, State University of New York (SUNY).
1978- Sept.-Oct., exhibited group show, “NCCC Faculty and Guest Artist, Susan Walp Show”, Niagara County Community College, Sanborn, NY.
1979- Exhibited, group show, Western New York Exhibition, Buffalo, NY.
1981- Exhibited, group show, Western New York Exhibition, Buffalo, NY.
1982- Feb. 21-March 16, exhibited, three person show, “1,2,3”, abstraction and landscape paintings show, works by Robert Flock, Roman Zabinski and Kenneth Klier, Niagara County Community College, Art Gallery, D Building, which was held in conjunction with the performance of the student theatre production of “Cyrano de Bergerac”, Sanborn, NY.
1984- March 9, exhibited, group show, Buscaglia-Castellani Art Gallery, Deveaux Campus of Niagara University, Niagara Falls, NY.
1987- Exhibited, group show, “The Wayward Muse”, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. November 6-23, exhibited, group show, Niagara County Community College, in recognition of the 25th Anniversary of the college, Sanborn, NY.
1990- Exhibited, group show, W.N.Y. Exhibition, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.
1994- Exhibited, group show, W.N.Y. Exhibition, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. May 20, exhibited, group show, “X-Sightings”, featuring 50 artists, Anderson Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.
2002- Exhibited, group show, W.N.Y. Exhibition, Buffalo, NY.
2003- Sept. 13-Oct. 31, exhibited, group show, “Invisible Archives Vol. 4: 120 Years of Landscape”, Selections from the collection of Gerald Mead Part 2, Hallwalls Barwalls, Buffalo, NY.
2005- Aug. 27-Nov. 20, exhibited, group show, “Abstraction”, Burchfield-Penney Art Center, featuring works from the museum’s permanent collection, Buffalo, NY.
2011- June 12-July 1, exhibited, group show, “In Plain Sight: Landscapes from the Collection of Gerald Mead”, Kenan Center House Gallery, Sponsored by M&T Bank, Lockport, NY.
2012- Sept. 5-Oct. 30, exhibited solo show, “Robert Flock Exhibition: Paintings & Drawings Over the Years”, Jewish Community Center of Greater Buffalo, Bunis Family Gallery, 2640 N. Forest Road in Getzville and also at the Holland Family Gallery, 787 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, NY.
2013- March 22-April 20, exhibition, solo show, “An Impassioned Decade”, paintings, collage and drawings (33 works), Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY link to our Exhibition Page
. September 27-October 25, exhibited, solo show, "WORK", at the Villa Maria College Paul William Beltz Family Art Gallery, for more information please visit their website link
2017- Robert passed January 10, 2017. January 12, "Remembering Robert Lyall Flock (1928-2017)", by Nancy Weekly, Burchfield Scholar, Head of Collections & Charles Cary Rumsey Curator, Burchfield Penney Art Center and Burchfield Penney Instructor of Museum Studies, SUNY Buffalo State. Internment and small gathering of friends for Robert was on Saturday, April 1 at 12:00 noon at the Forest Avenue Cemetery in Angola, NY. Robert's ashes were placed with his mother's family in Center Section D plot #232. Donations in Robert's memory may be made to the WNY SPCA.
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; and the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY.
Robert J. Rich, Jr.; Mr. & Mrs. Michael Joseph; and Mrs. John T. Elfvin.
Computer Task Group-Buffalo Rich Products Corp., Buffalo, NY.
Western New York Exhibitions, 1956, 1959, 1963-67, 1994; The Ringling Museum, Sarasota, FL, 1958; and First Purchase Prize, Burchfield Art Center, Buffalo, NY, 1985.
Jewish Community Center of Greater Buffalo, NY.
For additional information on this artist or for other possible examples of his works, please visit the AskArt link
(Written & compiled by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, meibohmfinearts.com, sources: Too long to list here and are furnished upon request.)