Karl Kuerner with Andrew WyethKarl Kuerner with Andrew Wyeth

The Wyeth/Kuerner Connection

Karl J. Kuerner was born on January 12, 1957, to Karl Jr. and Margaret Kuerner. Early on he began his apprenticeship in the challenges and customs of the farmland environment. Following his father's lead, he was schooled in the postulates and regimen required of a successful working farm. Two previous generations had successfully farmed this land for 75 years. As a young lad and in the custom of his predecessors, Karl J.'s father would relate many stories of this communal setting replete with achievements and disappointments. All these were stored up in a special repository within him and helped to develop an abiding affection for these environs and its traditions. As he grew to manhood, Karl developed a keen awareness of his roots and a need to express his feelings for this unique place and all its treasures. He drew sketches of the farm and surrounding area and with pride displayed them to his family. They were most pleased and amazed at his talented depictions. Then one day his father showed these sketches to Carolyn Wyeth who viewed them with curious interest.

Soon thereafter Karl met Carolyn and she invited him to walk around the homestead and view her work and those of her famous father, N.C. Wyeth. "Pa's paintings", as she affectionately referred to them, made a deep impression on young Karl as well as her own paintings. At a later date he and Carolyn were discussing his renderings and she gave him a sage piece of advice. "Go home and do something that means something to you," she instructed. The fire was lit. Under the tutelage of Carolyn Wyeth, he discovered an art form that would provide him the avenue with which he could announce to the world the rich heritage wherein he had been reared.

Karl presents an interpersonal relationship with Ring Farm and a mental mien that has been nurtured from birth within a rural agrarian lifestyle. His depictions of the daily routines that confront the farmland life are an enriching experience to the novice and a tribute to the initiated. Through the eyes of three generations, the viewer will be drawn into this pristine and sylvan setting. Intertwined in these works are pictorial descriptions of the peripheral life and vitality of the Chadds Ford area. Repeated perusal of these works will make the viewer keenly aware that Karl J. Kuerner paints as he feels whereas others may paint as they perceive. In fact, an unsolicited endorsement of Karl's paintings was proffered by Andrew Wyeth. One day behind the huge Kuerner barn on Ring Road, he and Andy were having a conversation when his mentor announced "you are painting as if you have something to say."

By James A. Nelson, Jr., Lt. Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired