Jean Van Alstine MacKay Henrich
(Canadian-American, 1909-2002) was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and was a sculptor, painter, printmaker and teacher. She had many interests and worked in various media to include: carving wood, stone, plaster, and cast metals. She saw sculpture as her first love, which she studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and at Antioch College, where she earned a B.A. in Art and Aesthetics. She also studied painting and drawing during two summers at the Academie Amadee Ozenfant in Paris, and at the University of Vienna in Austria. In 1954, she earned her M.A. from the University of Buffalo. Finally turning to watercolor, she studied for two years with Charles Burchfield at the Art Institute of Buffalo, where they both taught classes. She painted employing the “wet on wet” technique, in which pigments on the brush are applied to a wet sheet of paper.
Henrich became a member of the Buffalo Print Club
and worked in print media, including intaglio, and she carved and painted wood engravings. She taught printmaking for the Buffalo Print Club in the 1930s. At the Art Institute of Buffalo, she was head of the Sculpture Department from 1938-1942, returning from 1944-52. Many people remember her association with the Buffalo Seminary, where she taught night classes in sculpture beginning in 1944, quickly became head of the Art Department in 1946, and loyally served until 1979.
Henrich's work has been shown in exhibitions throughout the region, including the Burchfield Penney, the Kenan Center in Lockport, and the Members Gallery at the Albright- Knox. She also served as head of the sculpting department for 12 years at the Art Institute of Buffalo, and worked as an instructor of art and art history at the Buffalo Seminary from 1946-1979.
Her inspiration and overall theme is derived from nature and its elements, mainly belonging to the East Coast or Pacific Northwest: clouds and storms, sands and shoreline grasses, the rocks and water of the shore, and hills and fields. She also painted the Buffalo waterfront and buildings. Like Burchfield's, her landscapes had a lyrical quality; there is a sense of different times of day, shadow movement, shifts in light, and other subtleties.
In Nancy Weekly’s opinion, head of collections at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY, she stated, “Henrich’s most unique contribution is the series of paintings she called Fugues.”
Jean MacKay Henrich described them as starting, “…with an effort to lend more interest to the horizontals of sand, sky, and water of a Florida beach. Blocking out areas to make an abstract arrangement of rectangles and to focus attention, I developed my own version of the fractured image. Later I used a block-out in the form of parallelograms.”
Nancy Weekly continued, “Using this device, Jean inserted a lyrical quality to her landscapes. You had a sense of different times of day, the shift in light, shadows from a passing cloud, or other infinite subtleties within the parameters—and perimeter—of a single, focused field of vision. It is like a cross between Cubism and Impressionism, in that different perceptions are attained within a single picture plane, but without a shift in three-dimensional perspective. Her ‘Fugues’ also resonate with the compositional structure of paintings by Hans Hofmann, whom Jean had met. I believe Henrich was able to achieve this desired, floating effect because she brought a sculptor’s perception of space to the flat world of painting.”
Henrich produced a female figure for the Geneva Veteran's Memorial. The sculpture is installed in Pulteney Park in Geneva, New York and sculpted out of Georgian pink marble.
1946- Watercolors of California, J. N. Adams Galleries, Buffalo, NY.
1954- Sculpture and Watercolors, Junior League of Buffalo, NY.
1967- Recent Watercolors, A.A.O. Galleries, Wilcox Mansion, Buffalo, NY.
1973- Jean Henrich and Former Students, The Buffalo Seminary, Buffalo, NY.
1976- Jean Henrich: Recent Paintings (1974-1976), AAO Gallery, Buffalo, NY, August 1-29, 1976.
1979- Jean Henrich: Rocks, Surf & Storm, More-Rubin Gallery, Buffalo, NY, April 10-May 12, 1979.
1982- Jean Henrich: Watercolors, Larkin House of The Buffalo Seminary, Buffalo, NY, May 15-23, 1982.
1984- Jean Henrich: Recent Paintings, Buffalo Seminary Colby Artist–Larkin House of The Buffalo Seminary, Buffalo, NY, October 3-7, 1984.
1986- Jean Henrich: Recent Paintings 1985-1986, Larkin House of The Buffalo Seminary, Buffalo, NY.
1988- Arts Council, Buffalo, NY.
1989- Water Color Paintings: Jean Henrich, Larkin House of The Buffalo Seminary, Buffalo, NY, January 14-15, 1989. Jean Henrich: Watercolors, Adams Art Gallery, Dunkirk, NY, September 88-October 1, 1989.
1990- Recent Paintings: Jean Henrich, Larkin House of The Buffalo Seminary, Buffalo, NY, November 17-18, 1990.
1991- Forty Watercolors, Century Club, Rochester, NY.
1996- Paintings by Jean MacKay Henrich, Wilhelmina’s Art Gallery, Seneca Falls, NY, June 2-July 12, 1996.
1997- Jean Henrich: A Selection of paintings, sculpture, prints from over sixty years, The Colby Art Program of The Buffalo Seminary, Buffalo, NY, September 10-October 5, 1997.
Selected Group Exhibitions:
1934- Annual Exhibition of Artists of Western New York, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, March 3-April 1, 1934; 87. Larkspur and Hollyhocks, oil; 88. Felice, sculpture.
1935- Second Annual Exhibition, Artists of Buffalo and Western New York, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, March 2-31, 1935; 117. Willows, oil.
1936- [Third] Annual Exhibition at Buffalo by Artists of Western New York, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, March 7-April 5, 1936; 119. Eve: The First Woman, sculpture.
1976- Patteran Artists, Erie County Savings Bank, Buffalo, NY, April 5-30, 1976.
1984- Buffalo’s Waterfront: A Tribute to James Carey Evans, Burchfield Art Center, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY, November 4-December 2, 1984, Skyway #3, 1984, watercolor, 22 x 30 in., Private Collection.
1986- Limited Edition, AAO Art Galleries, Buffalo, NY; Fantasy, Sea and Sky, gouache.
1988- Kevin B. O’Callahan and The Buffalo Print Club, Burchfield Art Center, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY, October 7-December 4, 1988; 20. All God’s Chillen Got Wings, 1942, wood engraving, 6 x 7 ½ in.; 21. Glassmaker #1, undated, etching, 2 3/8 x 2 ½ in.; 22. Peter Ring Dem Bells, undated, wood engraving, 7 x 5 in.; 23. Roller Coaster, undated, linocut, 7 7/8 x 9 7/8 in., all collection of the artist.
1989- Dortmund, Germany with Niagara Society of Artists.
1996- Centennial Exhibition, Buffalo Society of Artists.
2000- Robert N. Blair & The Watercolor Tradition in Western New York, Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY, December 9, 2000-February 3, 2001; Headland, 1976, watercolor, 44 x 30 in., Colby Collection of the Buffalo Seminary.
Kenan Center, Lockport, NY; Members’ Gallery, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Fanette Goldman & Carolyn Greenfield Gallery, Daemen College, Amherst, NY; and Villa Maria College, Buffalo, NY.
Patteran Society, Treasurer for 10 years and in most exhibitions, Buffalo, NY; Buffalo Society of Artists, Buffalo, NY.
Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY; Library of Congress, Print Collection, Washington, D.C.; Graphic Controls Corporation, Buffalo, NY, Fugue II, watercolor, c. 1980; Zonta International Headquarters, Chicago, IL; Western Capital Corporation, Bradford, PA; Hodgson, Russ, Andrews, Woods & Goodyear, Buffalo, NY; Penn State Bank Corporation, Titusville, PA; Colby Collection of The Buffalo Seminary, Buffalo, NY; Niagara Trading Corporation, Buffalo, NY; Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY; British Embassy, Washington, DC; Charles Rand Penney Collection, Lockport, NY; Numerous private collections in New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, DC, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia, and British Columbia.
Commissioned Public Work:
1938 Geneva Veteran’s Memorial, Pulteney Park, Geneva, NY; Chautauqua County Jail, Mayville, NY.
“Lunchtalk,” Burchfield Art Center, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY, April 19, 1988.
(Source: Courtesy of the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY, burchfieldpenney.org, biographical information, portrait photo, chronology and quotes by Nancy Weekly, Head of Collections at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY, and the artist; findagrave.com, memorial No. 118316236.)