- Laurence Libin
(b Bethesda, MD, Aug 3, 1948). American artist and musician based in Brooklyn. His hybrid musical instruments, performances, and installations explore the interaction and transformation of common and uncommon objects, altered images, sounds, and silence. Butler studied viola as a child and maintained an interest in music while studying visual arts in France, at Colorado College (BA, 1970), and Portland State University (MFA in painting, 1977). He has made more than 400 amplified string and percussion instruments since 1978, mainly from urban detritus arranged in visually and aurally arresting ways. Some, such as a ‘T-Square Quartet’ made for Dave Soldier, have been commissioned by musicians; others have been made primarily as sculpture. Many have been featured in exhibitions and performances throughout North America and Europe. Butler has received numerous grants and awards for his work, which is represented in collections and museums including US.NY.mma. He aims to ‘express a poetic spirit of re-invention and hyper-utility, as hidden meanings and associations momentarily create a striking and re-animated cultural identity’ for these ‘anxious objects’, most of which have been created for his own use. Butler has performed with John Zorn, Laurie Anderson, Butch Morris, the Soldier String Quartet, Matt Darriau’s Paradox Trio, The Tonight Show Band, and the Master Gnawa musicians of Morocco....