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Artist to Watch: Kyle Butler

Photo by Nancy J. Parisi

Editor's note: Kyle Butler's works can be seen at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center March 14 - May 2

Age: 28

Art heroes?
Stuart Sherman, Sun Ra, Sol LeWitt, Sarah Lucas, Annie Dillard, Erich Fromm, Erik Satie, plus a dozen or so other canonical figures in no particular order. My family and friends trump their influence on any given day.

How long have you been an artist?
Professionally since I graduated from grad school. I started my art major in 2006; I did my undergrad at Central Michigan University.

What is it like being an artist in Western New York?
There are plenty of opportunities, and with the cost of living here, it’s easy to be an artist—more than anywhere else. This is a more established art and theater scene than in many places, and that’s an asset. They are things that you would expect from a larger city. And here we have nice proximity to Toronto and New York City, just a train ride away. And I also like being in a place that’s not necessarily a primary cultural center; there’s a certain amount of liberation in that.

What is the last piece of art that you created?
It was a painting for a show at Nina Freudenheim, following in line with a body of work first shown there in my solo show in January 2013 called Dead in the Eye, Strait in the Face, Square in the Jaw. It’s a fabricated, gestural abstract painting meant to look like it’s off the cuff and improvised, but it’s planned out and labored over. I’ve also just made a chain link contortion piece—waves of cut pieces of chain link fencing on a low wooden base, approximately three-by-six-feet.

Is your studio neat and tidy, or a disheveled mess?
It’s disheveled, but it’s kind of organic; I have places for things. I get fed up with the mess and I clean up, but if I am not in the state of mind to clean, the place kind of falls apart.

Framed or unframed?
Framed. But I wouldn’t want to suggest that for others. The drawings that I do are delicate so I would be nervous if they were not framed. There’s a lot of negative space, and the usage of the pencil is pretty slight, so they are easily damaged. I also want to protect the integrity of the surface of the piece. I hate framing but I think it’s necessary; for the drawings it seems to make sense.

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