Tag Archives: Bradley Butler

From The Director: Sacred Curiosities

Sacred Curiosities, installation shot

Sacred Curiosities, installation shot

Sometimes, an exhibition will come to me quickly. An artist will submit their work and it instantly sparks an idea of what other artist/artists could be paired with this person to make an engaging show. The full concept and title will also come easily and all will be well… More often, I will come up with an abstract notion of an idea and then try to find work that will fit. For Sacred Curiosities, it was the latter.

Planning notes for the exhibition

Planning notes for the exhibition with the first three artists to be included

About a year and a half ago, I had the spark of an idea for an exhibition and wrote myself a note that said “Object/Relic/Ritual”. This vague description was a guide for me but didn’t really get close to defining what the show would be, visually. I knew it would be based on objects (found objects) that seemed like relics, either from the artist’s everyday life or from another time entirely. The “ritual” aspect shows up in work that seems to indicate daily routine and in some cases, references to religious or spiritual practices.

A shrine by Chad Grohman. Chad's motivation for making these pieces comes from his experiences as a Nichiren Shu Buddhist Priest. The content of his images comes from doctrinal concepts found throughout the Buddhist cannon.

A shrine by Chad Grohman. Chad’s motivation for making these pieces comes from his experiences as a Nichiren Shu Buddhist Priest. The content of his images comes from doctrinal concepts found throughout the Buddhist cannon.

Immaculate Conception (front piece), a sculpture by Jacquie Germanow sits in front of many of Marth O'Connor's female totems and a framed "portrait" by Emily Kenas on the wall

“Immaculate Conception” (front piece), a sculpture by Jacquie Germanow sits in front of many of Martha O’Connor’s female totems and a framed “portrait” by Emily Kenas on the wall

A large part of Sacred Curiosities is focused on found object sculpture. The beauty of this method of making art is that many disparate parts—all with their own meaning or connotation—come together to form something new. The grouping of materials may be harmonious or it may be a collection of diverse and contradictory parts. The artists create new meaning from the various materials.

“Two Figures”, a found object sculpture by Emily Kenas as seen at a studio visit on March 15, 2016 (left) and again May 3, 2017 (right)

The paintings, drawings, and other more traditionally constructed sculpture add to this notion by depicting personal, historical, or cultural signifiers as they relate to the artist.

Richard Rockford pointing to "Todd" during my studio vist with him. This is an image made by cutting and reconstructing a vintage sign

Richard Rockford pointing to “Todd” during my studio visit with him in September, 2016. This piece was made by cutting and reconstructing a vintage sign.

Thinking about the meaning of objects led me to think about the passage of time and how the meaning we assign to certain objects can change. A symbol or signifier excavated centuries after it was made is interpreted out of its original context and the meaning is assigned based on what else may be known of the time from which it came.

A collection of legs from various sculptures in Bill Stewart's studio

A collection of legs from various sculptures in Bill Stewart’s studio

What will remain from our time here on earth? What will be known of our civilization when our cultural relics are unearthed? These questions helped me frame the exhibition and give it a context, even if only in my own mind, but the real meaning of the show is derived from the individual meaning created by each artist.

Photo from the studio of Jean Stephens, taken in July, 2016 just after a trip out west when she started working with these images of rock formations.

Photo from the studio of Jean Stephens, taken in July, 2016 just after a trip out west when she started working with these images of rock formations.

This exhibition has humor, evidence of self-examination, nostalgia and most of all a pluralistic collection of disparate parts coming together. Stop in before Friday, November 17 at 6 p.m. to experience this exhibition and investigate all of the bits and pieces that make up this show.

From The Director: Art in the Nation’s Capitol

In front of the National Gallery in Washington D.C.

In front of the National Gallery in Washington D.C.

This past weekend, I attended a family wedding in Washington D.C. While I was there, I had a whole day to kill before the wedding so I decided to see some art. I started out in the west building of the National Gallery of Art, where they mainly have what I call “the old stuff”. 

Rotunda in entrance of West Building

Rotunda in entrance of West Building

While there is so much to appreciate and study in art from early art history, I usually bypass the collections from the middle ages, renaissance, and prehistoric times. I typically choose to look at artwork made after 1900. Today, I decided to just take it all in (or at least as much as I could in 4 hours) and wandered through each room in the grand building.

Bronze casts of French members of Parliament made from Daumier original unbaked clay sculptures

Bronze casts of French members of Parliament made from Daumier’s original unbaked clay sculptures

Not surprisingly, the things I was drawn to were not that old. Highlights for me from the West Building include bronze sculptures of French officials by Daumier; Color in Context, a small exhibition of prints by Edvard Munch focusing on the use of color and the specific theosophical meaning of his colors; and Posing For The Camera, an exhibition of 60 photographs chronicling how posing for a portrait has changed since the invention of photography.

(left) Photo of playwright Jean Genêt by Brassaï, (center) Untitled photo from Berlin by György Kepes; and (right) Photo of Lucian Freud by Brassaï

(left) Photo of playwright Jean Genêt by Brassaï, (center) Untitled photo from Berlin by György Kepes; and (right) Photo of Lucian Freud by Brassaï

Moving to the East building (with a break for a burrito in the park) you notice the distinct differences in the architecture. The first building was classical, the second building was modern and angular.

Interior shot of the east building of the National Gallery

Interior shot of the East Building

The highlights from this building of the National Gallery include a drawing with soot by Lee Bontecou; “Blue Blood” by Martin Puryear, a large circular piece made from pine and cedar; and the thing that knocked me out the most was a film by James Nares called “Street” with a score by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.

"Untitled" drawing with soot by Lee Bontecou

“Untitled” drawing with soot by Lee Bontecou

"Blue Blood" by Martin Puryear

“Blue Blood” by Martin Puryear (with security guy for scale reference)

In the viewing room at The National Gallery watching "Street" by James Nares

In the viewing room at The National Gallery watching “Street” by James Nares

It was a slow motion ride around the streets of NYC and the way we get to interact with these people, usually staring at us or off in to the distance, is very intriguing.  See a clip from the piece here.

Large Robert motherwell painting on the bottom level

Large Robert motherwell painting on the bottom level

"Achilles" by Barnet Newman (left) and two paintings by Clifford Still (right)

“Achilles” by Barnet Newman (left) and two paintings by Clifford Still (right)

"Salut Tom", a huge painting by Joan Mitchell

“Salut Tom”, a huge painting by Joan Mitchell

There were of course some large abstract expressionist paintings, which I always like but the Nares film was my favorite piece. I wish I was able to experience all 61 minutes of it but I didn’t have enough time.

It is always a good idea to check out galleries and museums that you’ve never been to. Sometimes when I am on a trip or vacation, there just isn’t enough time. I’m glad I made the time during this short trip.

204 of Thousands, an installation of cups by Ehren Tool at the Renwick Gallery

“204 of Thousands”, an installation of cups by Ehren Tool at the Renwick Gallery

I also stopped into the Renwick Gallery the day before and saw a great installation of cups by Ehren Tool. Part of his ongoing body of work dealing with war through pottery. This installation at the Renwick Gallery was just a small number compared to the 14,000+ that he has made as part of this project. Powerful to see.

From The Director: End of September Edition

Upstate New York Painting Invitational

Upstate New York Painting Invitational

There have been so many things going on this month, I thought it would be nice to give some highlights… This is the last week to see two great exhibitions. You have until Saturday afternoon to experience the Upstate New York Painting Invitational and Fuse, a solo exhibition of sculpture by Mitch Messina. 

Detail of "" by Mitch Messina

Detail of “Circuit” from the exhibition by Mitch Messina

This is the third consecutive year that we have done a regional, media-specific exhibition. Last year it was printmaking and the year before it was ceramics. This is a great opportunity to see eight painters from our region working in a variety of different styles and media.

We are also having an artists talk this Saturday, October 7 at 2p.m. with seven of the artists included in the Painting Invitational. You can RSVP and get updates on our Facebook Event Page.


The end of each month is always bittersweet… It means that we have to say goodbye to our artists in residence. The bright side is that we get to welcome new artists into our community! Plus this month, Mandy Ranck is staying on for a two month residency, so we get to hang out with her for a while longer.

Ali Herrmann teaching her encaustic collage workshop at Main Street Arts

Ali Herrmann teaching her encaustic collage workshop at Main Street Arts

We are saying goodbye to Ali Herrmann and wishing her well as she travels back home to Lenox, MA. She was the first encaustic artist to be a resident at Main Street Arts and we really enjoyed getting to know her and her work while she was here.


For the month of September, I was honored to be able to teach art classes two days per week at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center. These classes provided an art experience for some of the veterans who are full time residents in the geriatric and psych wards at the VA.

"Animal Collage" project from one of the students at the VA Medical Center

“Animal Collage” project from one of the students at the VA Medical Center

Each class we completed a different project and focused on painting, collage, and ceramics. I would usually have 10–15 guys in the class but the day we did the clay figures, 25 showed up! It was a great experience and I look forward to doing more with the VA in the future.


ArtTalksPromo

On Sunday, Sept. 24, I was privileged to be a part of the Ontario County Arts Council’s “Art Talk” series. In case you missed it, the Art Talk at Wood Library in Canandaigua will be aired on Finger Lakes Television (Spectrum cable 12, digital channel 5.12) on October 6 at 9 a.m., October 7 at 6 p.m., October 13 at 9 a.m., and October 14 at 6 p.m.


Mandy Ranck is our first ceramic resident artist and she also guided our kiln along it’s maiden voyage! We have had a kiln at the gallery since we opened 4 years ago but just have not been able to fire it until this year. 

Mandy Ranck loading work into our kiln at Main Street Arts

Mandy Ranck loading work into our kiln at Main Street Arts

We are looking forward to each time Mandy unloads the kiln! If you are a ceramic artist or you know someone who is interested in a residency, check out the details on our website. You will have full access to the kiln and a potter’s wheel.


Installation shot from last year's Small Works exhibition

Installation shot from last year’s Small Works exhibition

Our deadline for two national juried exhibitions was yesterday at midnight! Keep your eyes peeled as we reveal the accepted artists work in preparation for the opening receptions on Saturday, December 2. The fate of each exhibition is now in the hands of our jurors, Cory Card (Small Works) and Peter Pincus (The Cup, The Mug).

While the month of September was definitely a busy one, the coming months will continue in its path, starting with the installation of our next exhibition Sacred Curiosities, which features the work of 13 artists (opening reception on Saturday, October 21 from 4 to 7 pm). The arrival of work for our two national juried exhibitions will follow, and before you know it, the installation and opening of those exhibitions will be here! We will also be announcing our 2018 exhibition calendar very soon so check our website, follow us on social media and, if you haven’t already, sign up for our weekly email newsletter to keep up with all that’s going on!

From The Director: Utopia/Dystopia

Installation view from "Utopia/Dystopia", painting in foreground by Polly Little

Installation view from ‘Utopia/Dystopia’, painting in foreground by Polly Little

Juried exhibitions are interesting from my perspective as a gallery director. There is much less control of the outcome in an exhibition like this. Typically, I get to choose each artist—and many times, each specific piece—that will be included in a show. From the beginning, I have an idea of how the exhibition will come together and how it can be installed to become an interesting thing unto itself. However, in a juried show I have no control over what will be displayed, only how it will be  displayed.

The usual exhibition at Main Street Arts has its beginnings in seeing a specific piece by an artist and slowly building the idea for the exhibition around that. The place that I end up may be different from where I started but it is this organic process that keeps things interesting for me from year to year.

The current national juried exhibition, Utopia/Dystopia features 40 artists from 15 different states selected by our juror, John Massier—visual arts curator at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center in Buffalo, NY. The idea for this exhibition came to me last year during the strange spectacle that was primaries and started out only as “dystopia”, with no brighter side. As a little time passed, it became important to add in “utopia” as the counterpoint with the hope for an exhibition that presented competing visions of the future. The resulting exhibition brings the realization that the themes of utopia and dystopia can be left to interpretation.

Installation view of 'Utopia/Dystopia', Painting by Sarah Peck in foreground

Installation view of ‘Utopia/Dystopia’, Painting by Sarah Peck in foreground

There are of course pieces in the show that are always read as depicting  dystopia (i.e. things that are on fire or demonic figures) and then there are those that could be both. Endless Pool by Anna Pleskow could be read either way, I see both isolation and serenity. Fretful Mickey by Jennifer McCandless  is meant to be “a dystopian Disney that is hot, crowded, and the only thing to eat is a giant turkey leg” (a quote from the artist) but I could also see this as an alternative version of the Disney classic that is perhaps even more captivating.

(left) "Endless Pool" by Anna Pleskow (right) "Fretful Mikey" by Jennifer McCandless

(left) “Endless Pool” by Anna Pleskow (right) “Fretful Mikey” by Jennifer McCandless

Even though I had a complete lack of control in selecting the work for Utopia/Dystopia, I am very happy with the selections made by our juror. It is an eclectic mix that makes you laugh, scratch your head, and maybe even get a little creeped out! Stop in before June 30, 2017 to see the show before it is gone.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Bradley Butler: Part Two

Bradley Butler

Detail of Inner Interior (2012)

I have always been attracted to a darker palette. Muddy colors, mixing lots of black and white with my colors, using copious amounts of India ink and powdered charcoal… This led me down a path of slightly grey, almost “dim” work that masked the color that was present in my paintings. For a while, I was trying to mask this color as a way for people to discover it as they stared into the surface. Images and colors would show themselves after your eyes adjusted to the darkness on the immediate surface. You would begin to notice that it wasn’t a flat black or grey you were looking at but a rich grouping of blues, reds, browns and greens.

Bradley Butler

Detail of Sliding Frame of Reference (2011)

Bradley Butler

Detail of Underneath The Expanse (2012)

My work as of late has been a reveal of the colors that were always there but were just hiding beneath the surface. I still “muddy up” the palette and most likely, will always do that;  but more color—vibrant at times—has been showing up in my compositions. I see my recent work (March–October, 2014) as a refined approach to color and also to mark-making. Using brushes I have not picked up in years, leaving marks I would have otherwise covered in the past, and trying to think differently about the way I begin a painting. These are all ways in which I have “forced” a change. Other natural changes have resulted from this as well.

studio shot bradley butler

Two new 30in x 30in canvases are in the works in the studio.

detail of new work by Bradley Butler

Detail of 30in x 30in painting in progress

The paintings have become more consistent, and I feel, more impactful. There are still subtle and understated areas but they pack more punch now… The mystery and depth I am after is still there and will always be there (I hope), but with a new palette. I still use the same colors, I just mix them differently and set different expectations for myself. The colors I use are Golden Brand acrylics because that’s what Kathy Calderwood told me to use when I took her class in college. I use cadmium red, napthol red, cadmium yellow, phthalo blue (green shade), ultramarine blue, titanium white, and mars black. At times, additions or substitutions are made but that happens rarely.

Bradley Butler

My current palette as I work in the studio. This is a popular mix for me lately: ultramarine, pthalo, and cad. yellow with varying degrees of black and white… I also let the colors run into each other to see what happens!

Part three in this series will be coming soon. Until then, stop into the gallery to see The Opposite of Concrete where six of my paintings are featured, along with great work by 4 other talented artists.

Read part one of Inside The Artist’s Studio with Bradley Butler, here.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Bradley Butler: Part One

Bradley Butler

The studio just before bringing these paintings to the gallery. Pictured (L to R) “The Impossibility  of Understanding”, “Intentionally Losing Direction”, and “The Mirage of Truth”.

Preparing for this exhibition, for me, was a multi-faceted experience. Being both the gallery director and also 1 of 5 exhibiting artists, I found myself feeling many different things. Even though I was concerned with the way inclusion of artwork by the gallery director would be perceived; I was excited to host an exhibition featuring abstraction as the unifying conceptual theme on the main floor.

Abstract painting has been the most direct way for me to communicate visually with an audience. It affects me on the most primal level and allows for a contemplative and direct connection to my deepest thoughts in the studio. When painting, I am sorting out my thoughts and beliefs, processing world events, and also cultivating a visual language. I am constantly experimenting with different approaches to achieving images that are thoroughly “worked” and wrought with a fury of brush strokes, washes of fluid paints, and linear scratches of charcoal and conté crayon.

Bradley Butler

Detail of “Intentionally Losing Direction” while in progress.

For this exhibition, I knew I wanted to have an entirely new set of paintings and I had already begun working towards my current frame of mind in the studio. On January 1, 2013, I began working on new paintings in a new studio for the first time in 8 months (My wife and I bought a house, I had 3 jobs, and no time…). This was a very important time for me and I experienced a renaissance of artistic activity that was lacking from my life. I began to make a body of work that was distinctly different from my MFA thesis body of work from 2010, while still working within the confines of an overall aesthetic I had developed. Realizing this, I pushed on and continued to evolve as an artist. This is still happening and I couldn’t be more excited.

Bradley Butler

Six paintings on paper, part of the “Planes of Existence” series. Three of these are included in the exhibition.

The paintings featured in  The Opposite of Concrete are my most recent. They represent the direction I am heading in as well as my chosen format for the foreseeable future, or at least for a while… I have come to realize that working within a structural standard (30in x 30in canvases and 6in x 9in or 9in x 12in works on paper) takes my mind off of questions like “how big?” and “vertical or horizontal?” I am able to focus on the composition and the development of a more refined color palette, as well as a larger repertoire of the lines and shapes that make up my images. The intuitive manner in which I work usually dictates the direction I end up taking with my paintings. It is an adventure without a specific plan and that is both exciting and frightening! Making formal decisions about the surface or color palette is the only control I allow myself to have. Everything else after that is a chance encounter with brushes and pigments…

Bradley Butler

Detail of “The Mirage of Truth” while in progress.

You can see more images from my studio on Instagram.

Read Part Two of Inside The Artist’s Studio with Bradley Butler, here.

Check out our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post, by ceramic artist Samantha Stumpf.

Upcoming Exhibition: The Opposite of Concrete

Main Street Arts is preparing for our next show in the main gallery space, The Opposite of Concrete: An Exhibition of Abstract Painting and Photography.

Main Street Arts, The Opposite of Concrete, 2014

Main Street Arts, The Opposite of Concrete, 2014. Left to right: Carl Chiarenza, Bradley Butler, Karen Sardisco, Sarah Sutton, and Patricia Wilder

This exhibition features five different approaches to making abstract imagery through painting and photography by Carl Chiarenza, Karen Sardisco, Sarah Sutton, Patricia Wilder, and Bradley Butler (gallery director at Main Street Arts).

The opening reception for The Opposite of Concrete is Saturday, September 6, 2014 from 4 to 7 pm. For reception updates make sure to rsvp to our Facebook event. We hope to see you there!

Exhibition Dates: September 6–November 1, 2014

Opening Reception: Saturday, September 6, 2014 from 4 to 7 pm

 

For now, check out our blog posts on a few of our exhibiting artists:

A Studio Visit with Painter Sarah Sutton

An interview with Carl Chiarenza