Mulvane features performance, exhibition

Hybrid Vision Ken Butler combines art and music to create hybrid musical instruments. His artwork, which explores the transformation of common objects and sounds and altered images, was placed in the Mulvane for exhibition.

Michelle Boltz

Seeing is believing at the Mulvane Art Museum’s newest exhibit, “Ken Butler: Hybrid Visions, where umbrellas become violins.”

This unique exhibit is on display at the Mulvane until Jan. 24. The Mulvane will be the last museum to have this exhibit before it is shipped back to New York City, where Ken Butler currently resides.

“This exhibit will help reach out to the music department on campus, and [they] may find it to be both intriguing and educational,” said Cindi Morrison, Mulvane art director.Originally from Portland, Ore., Butler studied the viola as a child.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in studio art from Colorado College and a master’s degree in fine arts from Portland State University in painting. Fascinated with the relationship between the human form on a large X-ray form to a Harmony guitar, Butler was inspired to create his first instrument, made with a hatchet combined with the tailpiece, bridge, neck and strings of a violin. He refers to himself as a bricouleur, a French term meaning “handyman” or “jack of all trades.”

Since moving to New York City in the late 1980s, Butler has performed at the Stedelyk Museum in Amsterdam, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and he has been featured on PBS, CNN, MTV, and NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno. His CD, called “Voices of Anxious Objects,” is featured on John Zorn’s Tzadik label.

There will be two opportunities to hear Butler’s live performances, There will be an opening reception on Oct. 2 from 5 to 8 p.m., and a second performance will take place during Family and Community Day, Oct. 3 from 1 to 4 p.m. Both performances will take place in the Art Lab. Children will have an opportunity to create their own instruments and perform a mini-concert with their creations.

Patrick Dougherty is the other featured artist at the Mulvane. He will arrive on Nov. 2, and he will be at the Mulvane until Nov. 20to work on his latest sculpture, which is made from tree saplings. It will be located on the front lawn across from the Yu-Yu-Yang sculpture. It is a three-week progressive piece that people can actually walk through.

“It’s an unusual opportunity to see an artist at work and have the option to ask questions, and for the art students to have an opportunity to help him with the exhibit,” said Morrison.