Rix Jennings at Meibohm
This wide-ranging artist captured the look and feel of Western New York
Courtesy of Meibohm Fine Arts
Rixford U. Jennings
March 22–April 20 at Meibohm Fine Arts
478 Main Street, East Aurora
The artist who illustrated the first ten years of Buffalo Spree covers was also a Disney animator, stained glass designer, prolific painter, etcher, and woodcarver. Rixford U. Jennings (1906–1996) is a legend in East Aurora, where he spent most of his life, except for his brief stint in Anaheim (1940–41), when he contributed animations for such Disney films as Dumbo and Fantasia.
Jennings is now known primarily for his landscape and cityscape watercolors, but, regionally, the artist has left many other marks, including a series of murals at the Aurora Town Hall, the distinctive East Aurora Village Seal, and, further afield, murals featuring the Iroquois Nation at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.
Jennings’ paintings and drawings demonstrate charming and versatile realism. He could provide crisp, architectural details when needed (as for his Spree covers) as well as more atmospheric effects with landscape subjects.
As local artist/collector Gerry Mead noted in a 2007 article for this magazine, Jennings’ Spree covers of the sixties and seventies were positive PR for “Buffalo the Beautiful.” He once remarked that he was drawn to watercolor because he felt that “it had no limits.” The artist was also inspired and fortified by the Roycroft heritage and describes being “mesmerized by the energy and activity of the Roycrofters” while he “observed, learned, and tried to stay out of the way.”
The current show at Meibohm features a good cross-section of Jennings’ watercolor paintings and drawings, as well as working sketches, pen and ink drawings, and pastels. An interesting subgenre within this group is Jennings’ World War II-era work, attractive and inspirational images meant to personalize the experience as well as pay tribute to American efforts at home and overseas.
Those interested in seeing—or even collecting—the work of one of Western New York’s most iconic artists should not miss this show.