Born in Saint Mary Parish, David Butler (1898–1997) lived in New Hope, near Patterson, Louisiana. In his early sixties, he suffered a work-related accident and was forced to retire. With time on his hands, Butler began to fill his yard with all manner of cutout sculptures. Using the most basic materials and tools, he crafted wildly imaginative and kinetic sculptures that formed the basis for a ”yard show”—an African American tradition common in the South—around his modest home. Colorfully painted and patterned exotic animals, sea creatures, farm animals, and imaginary forms populated his yard.
Leslie Umberger, curator of folk and self-taught art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, draws comparisons between Butler’s environment and the improvisational quilts made by African American women across the South.
Leslie Umberger is curator of folk and self-taught art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, she served for fourteen years as senior curator at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. Interested in folk, self-taught, and vernacular artists with an emphasis on artists who transformed their personal realms into comprehensive art environments, Umberger responds to the work of David Butler.
You’re invited to Opening Night in our yearlong series dedicated to artist-built environments!
Seven multidisciplinary exhibitions exploring art environments
Musical performance by Jim White and Paul Fonfara
Followed by DJ and dancing
Members are Free (remember to bring your card for fast check-in)
$15 in advance/$25 at door
Feb. 25, 2017Get Tickets
This exhibition is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding was also provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Kohler Trust for the Arts and Education, and the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. The Arts Center thanks its many members for their support of exhibitions and programs through the year.