Geoff Butler – May Featured Artist

geoff butlerGeoff Butler

I studied at Art Students League, NY. Though painting is my primary art discipline, I also write and publish books. My first two books were Art of War: Painting it out of the picture (1990 ) and The Look of Angels: Angels in Art (2004). My Art of War series was exhibited at Saint Marys University Art Gallery. The AGNS exhibited my Angel looks series and toured it in the Atlantic Provinces. I also wrote and published With Every Breath We Take: a modern fable in which a snowflake helps put an end to war ( 2007).

Geoff Butler painting, from Global Village series. "Home". 2008, alkyd on panel, 56 x 71 cm.

Geoff Butler painting, from Global Village series. “Home”. 2008, alkyd on panel, 56 x 71 cm.

My life as an artist is chock-full of perks.
One, Ive been told, is that I don’t work.
At least that’s what my kids always say.
Him? His head’s in the clouds all day.
I must admit my mind does drift.
If the truth be told, I rely on it
to stay in sync with the clouds floating by
as ideas take shape in my dreamy mind’s eye.
The grandeur of Nature. The human condition.
The corridors of power. War. Religion.
The near or far. The lowly or grand.
All are fair pickings for an artist’s hand.
It is honest work, this art engagé,
though to my kids it looks like play.
Art comes to life with imagination
as ones life becomes an artistic creation.

-Geoff Butler

as a way of staying in touch with my peers

I have been a VANS member since its inception. I remember that, shortly after moving to Granville Ferry in 1976, I attended an information meeting in Annapolis Royal that was about this new provincial arts organization that was going to be formed. Some years later, I took my turn serving on the board as the Annapolis West representative. I have remained a member as a way of staying in touch with my peers and with what is going on in the art world. I avail myself of the opportunities that VANS offers, such as exhibitions and workshops, and I am included in the E-Studio.

I do some writing, not about the paintings but inspired by them

My work ( painting and writing) is a mixture of realism and fantasy. As it tends to comment on the human condition, I am influenced by just about anything I hear or read about in the world at large. I often use humour, particularly satire, as part of my artistic arsenal. I usually take a theme, e.g., war, and work on a painting series about that. I then do some writing, not about the paintings but inspired by them, and this whole process can take years to complete. This then seamlessly progresses into self-publishing books on what Ive painted and written about.

circumventing the gallery scene

Over the years, I have been frustrated with the difficulty in getting exhibitions outside of my Atlantic region, particularly as the subject matter of my paintings ( warfare or global village, for example) is global in scope. Related to that is the difficulty, beyond the art world, in getting my images to be used to complement social awareness on some issue or other. One way I have met this challenge is to self-publish books on my paintings and writings, thereby circumventing the gallery scene and putting the images into a more portable, accessible format. Of course, self-publishing presents its own biases and challenges, but I nibble away at those as time goes by.

One success Ive had, at least in terms of formal endorsement, is becoming an elected member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Also of help is being included in some institutional permanent collections, such as Acadia University, Annapolis Heritage Society, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Canada Council Art Bank, Canadian War Museum, Nova Scotia Art Bank, Toronto Public Library (Osborne Collection), University College of Cape Breton, and University of New Brunswick Art Centre.

the Ode to Labrador

My most recent book, which is a compilation of my Canuckiana and Global Village series, is called Our Own Little World in paintings and verse. In August I will be exhibiting some paintings in that book at the Annapolis Region Community Arts Council in Annapolis Royal. In 2012, I was an artist-in-residence on Fogo Island, NL, courtesy of the Shorefast Foundation and Fogo island Arts. In the spring of 2015, I had a similar residency in North West River, Labrador, courtesy of Grenfell Campus Art Gallery and the Labrador Institute, and while there I mostly did paintings to go along with the Ode to Labrador, a song written in 1927 by Dr. Harry Paddon of the Grenfell Mission and who resided in North West River.

More information about Geoff Butler can be found on his VANS E-Studio artist page:

www.visualarts.ns.ca/artist-pages/geoff-butler

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