village at turn of century
Funderburgs painting of downtown Yellow Springs businesses
is one of the 21 pieces on display at the Winds Cafe this month.
far from the horse wranglers call in the pasture behind his house,
local artist Lee Funderburg mixes his signature vibrantly colored oil
paints. The cornfield greens and haystack browns that once dominated his
palette have been all but abandoned for the peaches and purples that color
the Yellow Springs townscapes in his newest oil series, Yellow Springs
Suite, hanging at the Winds Cafe this month.
Staring at a blank canvas at the turn of the century, Funderburg wanted
to paint a tribute to the village where he was raised. Twenty-one paintings
for the 21st century seemed an adequate challenge.
He began by taking photos of downtown, the Street Fair, the Riding Centre,
Whitehall Farm and other familiar spots he felt were beautiful. It took
him two years, from 20012002, to transfer the life in the photos
to the village as he saw it on smooth wood panels. The resulting images
that appear, from the sunny view of Kings Yard to a winter day in the
Pine Forest, capture the serenity and idealism of a small community in
hyped-up colors and rich details, such as the red logo of Deatons
Do it Best Hardware.
Funderburg grew up on a 100-acre farm near the South Glen, always drawing
as a child. In the late 1970s, he left Yellow Springs after art school
for a turn at Tyler Graphics as a fine art printer for Kandinsky and other
Even while navigating the far-off metropolis, the first paintings Funderburg
tackled were the cornfields and grassy plains he had always painted. He
had tried a few shows of his own in New York.
New Yorkers want to buy famous peoples art, I dont think
theyre interested in paintings of Ohio by a little known Midwesterner,
But instead of changing his art to fit the market in 1998, he shifted
locations to continue doing what he wanted to do: paint landscapes of
I like abstract art, and Ive tried it, but Ive never
come up with anything thats satisfied me, he said. Its
a matter of realizing what you are and being that.
Funderburg greets the sun every morning to help his two brothers feed
and water the 30 horses they board. They grow and harvest their own hay
and corn for feed. After the mowing, wood chopping and stall cleaning,
retreating to the studio is a nice change of pace, Funderburg said.
Im probably odd that way, he said. There arent
many farmer artists.
Funderburg has had two other shows at the Winds and one in the local gallery
of the Dayton Art Institute, which included studies of agricultural landscapes
and still lifes in antique frames. His recent work allowed him to branch
out from his former niche while maintaining a fidelity to his roots.
With Yellow Springs Suite now on display, Funderburg said
he is itching to start painting again.
Maybe 100 years from now, these will eventually be the most popular
paintings Ive done, he said. Though I cant say
Ive painted my last cornfield.