Join us as Ken Butler demonstrates and performs mesmerizing world textures and driving melodic grooves with passion and purpose on an amazing arsenal of amplified hybrid string instruments made from household objects and tools. Duchampian Dada meets Hybrid Hindu Hendrix as function and form collide in an environment of hyperactive hardware.
Butler blends aspects of Middle-Eastern, Indian, Flamenco, and Roma modes with jazz, rock, funk, and blues, all held together by an open, edgy "downtown" improv aesthetic. Virtually indescribable and unclassifiable, Butler mixes high and low technology and audio-visual antics to create an ancient/future music that forms a provoking cultural portrait of human/machine adaptation and transformation.
Ken Butler is an artist and musician whose Hybrid musical instruments, performances, and other works explore the interaction and transformation of common and uncommon objects, altered images, and diverse sounds as function and form collide in the intersection of art and music.
Butler is internationally recognized as an innovator of experimental musical instruments created from diverse materials including tools, sports equipment, and household objects. The idea of bricolage, essentially using whatever is “at hand”, is at the center of his art, encompassing a wide range of practice that combines assemblage art, live music, instrument design, performance art, theater, sculpture, installation, photography, film/video, graphic design, drawing, and collage.
Ken Butler studied viola briefly as a child and maintained an interest in music while studying visual arts in France, at Colorado College, and Portland State University where he completed his MFA in painting.
He has been featured in exhibitions and performances worldwide including The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, The Prada Foundation in Venice (as part of the “Art or Sound” exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2014), The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Mass Moca, and The Kitchen, The Brooklyn Museum, Lincoln Center and The Metropolitan Museum in New York City as well as in Canada, South America, Thailand, and Japan.
His works have been reviewed in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Artforum, Smithsonian, and Sculpture Magazine and have been featured on PBS, CNN, MTV, and NBC, including a live appearance on The Tonight Show. Awards include fellowships from the Oregon Arts Commission, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Pollack/Krasner Foundation. He won first prize in the 2016 international Guthman Musical Instrument Competition at Georgia Tech University.
Butler has performed with John Zorn, Laurie Anderson, David Van Tieghem, Butch Morris, The Soldier String Quartet, Matt Darriau's Paradox Trio, The Tonight Show Band, and The Master Gnawa musicians of Morocco. His CD, Voices of Anxious Objects is on Tzadik records.
Works by Ken Butler are represented in public and private collections in Portland, Seattle, Vail, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal, Washington, Paris, Tel Aviv, and New York City including the permanent collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He resides in Brooklyn, New York.