Thursday, August 13, 2009

Deborah Butterfield at 425 Market St.

Encouraged by mentor Manual Neri, Butterfield began making horses 30 years ago as self-portraits expressing feminist and anti-war concerns. Over time, her love of horses trumped other issues and concerns. "She uses the horse as a figure for the other, the unknown that defines human experiences of curiosity, empathy and understanding." (sign at site).

When her early stick-and-mud horses deteriorated, Butterfield developed a new, faux-wood method. Tiring of a secondary "veterinary art restorer" career, and using the services of the Walla Walla Foundry in Washington State, she developed a unique method of casting bronze. In the labor-intensive solution she documents and disassembles her wood horses, makes a mold for every stick, burns out the wood and pours in molten bronze. After casting, the artist reassembles the metal parts according to the original photograph and allows patinas to restore the natural hues to give the sculptures their faux wood appearance.

"My work is not so overtly about movement. My horses' gestures are really quite quiet, because real horses move so much better than I could pretend to make things move. For the pieces I make, the gesture is really more within the body, it's like an internalized gesture, which is more about the content, the state of mind or of being at a given instant. And so it's more like a painting...the gesture and the movement is all pretty much contained within the body." - Deborah Butterfield (American, 1949 - ).

Baker reviews Butterfield at Gallery Paule Anglim

Curated by Casey and Associates. Artwork courtesy of Gallery Paule Anglim. Photographs by Nancy


Bill Stankus said...

When I first looked at the photos an entirely different sculpture popped from my memory.

I don't know if it is still done, but years ago, in the tidal flats near SF, there were imaginative constructions made from driftwood,discarded lumber they were clearly visible to passing traffic. Some of these were quite elaborate, lasting for weeks and months - others were gone in days.

Her bronze-wood horse are certainly more refined but as a kid I always looked forward to seeing what was new along side the highway.

namastenancy said...

Good catch! I thought the same thing as well and who knows, maybe she was inspired by those sculptures. My ex-husband and I used to make "beings of unknown origin" out of driftwood. I miss those days and I miss the free ranging community that used to go down and make the most amazing pieces.

Zoomie said...

I remember seeing those pieces, too, in Emeryville mud flats. I gather there's a new "community" further north and not visible from the freeway, in Albany on the shore. I haven't been to see it yet, but I keep meaning to. If you'd like to go one day, we could make an outing of it!

Ander said...

I will definitely check these sculptures out while I'm busy waiting for the BART to never arrive.