Ken Butler at the Orphic Gallery

Instrumental Desire: Strings Attached
Ken Butler at the Orphic Gallery

You are cordially invited to the opening of Instrumental Desire: Strings Attached featuring the stunning musical instruments of New York artist Ken Butler at the Orphic Gallery in Roxbury, NY, on Friday, July 4, 2014, from 5 to 7. Ken Butler will be present at the opening and will provide those in attendance with a demonstration of the sonic capability of some of his ingenuous instruments.

The Orphic Gallery is located at The Roxbury Corner Store located at 53525 State Highway 30 in Roxbury at the corner of Main and Bridge Streets. The exhibit will run through August 24th and be open during the gallery’s normal business hours, Thursday through Sunday 12 – 5 pm and by appointment.

Ken Butler’s hybrid musical instrument sculptures, collage/drawings, performances, and audio-visual installations explore the interaction and transformation of common and uncommon objects, sounds and silence, and altered images as function and form collide in the intersections of art and music.

Created primarily from urban detritus, the hybrid instruments express a poetic spirit of re-invention and hyper-utility as hidden meanings and associations momentarily create a striking and re-animated cultural identity for common objects. String instruments become body, tool, weapon, toy, symbol, machine, phallus, creature, sculpture, icon, and voice. Pianos and keyboards become cybernetic and symbolic architecture. Anxious objects speak in tongues.

Bridging fine art, craft, technology, and music, the hybrids exist as ergonomic functional musical instruments as well as sculpture; they are constructed from readily available consumer objects designed to perform a different function, and when amplified are shaped with cutting-edge sound processing allowing artful musical sounds and expression.

His works have been featured in numerous exhibitions and performances throughout the USA, Canada, and Europe including The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Mass MoCA, and The Kitchen, The Brooklyn Museum, The Queens Museum, Lincoln Center and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City as well as in 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. Ken Butler studied viola 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 in 1977.

He has performed with John Zorn, Laurie Anderson, 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. Most recently, eleven pieces of his work was featured in the Prada Pavilion exhibition Art or Music at the Venice Architectural Biennale.

On the evening of August 9th, Ken Butler together with an ensemble of musicians from the NYC downtown experimental music scene will give a performance at the Orphic Gallery with instruments from the exhibit and others of their own creation.The Orphic Gallery

The Orphic Gallery opened the summer of 2012 in the artistic enclave of Roxbury, NY. The gallery exclusively exhibits art related to music including photographs, concert posters, musical instruments, portraits of musicians, souvenirs of musical events, specimens of musical technology, etc. All work exhibited at the gallery has a definite connection to the world of music, and it features exhibits based on both local music history, and musical traditions from around the USA and abroad.

For further information on Instrumental Desire: Strings Attached or the Orphic Gallery, please contact Phillip Lenihan at 607-326-6045 or