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Painter Jim Butler makes work that is strange, idiosyncratic, and beautiful. He creates large paintings of small, colorful blown-glass maquettes he makes himself, which he calls “characters”. Butler lost his home and studio to a fire in the late ‘80s, an event that changed the course of his artistic production. After the majority of his work from that decade was lost, he began to collect objects from stoop sales and make paintings of them, eventually realizing he needed to make and mold his own subject matter. Recently, he has added a third step to the process: he takes digital photos of the sculpture, and then paints from the photographic image. From far away, the paintings look seamless and slick, but close-up, it’s clear that the artist cares very much about the evidence of the hand, through brushstroke and surface.
People, places and things mentioned: Dale Chihuly, Thomas Eakins, Edgar Degas, Jean Dominique Ingres, Chuck Close, Vija Celmins, Finish Fetish, The Hairy Who. . .