Dan Butler, in the Craftland Gallery June 04, 2014 07:00

On May 22nd, our latest show in the Craftland Gallery, Past Objects, opened. This show features drawings by New York artist, Dan Butler. Dan is the artist behind our popular Providence print and we are so excited about his solo show, which will be on display until June 26th. I spoke to Dan briefly to learn more about his show. 

Tell us a little bit about your show in the Craftland Gallery, Past Objects.
These are all drawings of objects I see on a regular basis around New York City, with the exception of the Hollywood Theatre which is located in Portland, Oregon.  I went to see a movie at this theatre and the terra cotta facade, especially in the nighttime, blew me away.  NYC has a similar building, also with a terra cotta facade, called the Alwyn Court building and it's an incredible sight.  

What is the significance of the show's title? 
Past Objects -  I think a lot about new technologies and how old is replaced with the new.  Architecture is a good example.  I've always been a fan of the period (victorian and art deco) when ornamentation and facades were fantastical, almost fairy tale in appearance.  I like looking at photos of places before the time of mainstream TV, radio, films and internet - when a trip to Coney Island in the early 1900s (modeled to look like the lost city of Atlantis) or a walk down 5th Ave or Broadway in Manhattan could be a transportive experience.  In the surviving structures of these eras there are angels, gargoyles, and faces sculpted into many of the facades.  Also surprising shapes, twists and turns in the wrought iron work of art deco designs.  

What is your process like for creating these pieces?
Making epic large drawings is the first part.  For instance, the Ionic Column (from 300 BC) I drew at the Met Museum, is over 6 ft. tall and almost 4 ft. wide.  Luckily I went early on a weekday and it wasn't too crowded however by lunch time the drawing was in danger of getting trampled on as the museum became more crowded.  I think security was anxious for me to wrap it up as my drawing paper began to cover more and more of the floor.  Once the drawing is finished I scale it down using the same black and white copier architects use for their building plans.  I then used a heavy paper and traced for the final for the pieces in this show.  

How does the cityscape of NYC influence your work?
For these works it's everything.  I have a feeling of awe many times while walking in the five boroughs of NYC.  Often, when I least expect it, I'll be amazed by craft - a funky rooftop with myriad pipes sticking out in surprising ways, elaborate art deco doors and windows, or curvy wrought iron fire escapes.  And I love this about every urban setting.  The Ottoman Warrior sculpture on the Turk's Head Building in Providence always gets me.  

Past Objects will be on display in the Craftland Gallery until June 26th. You can read a review of the show from the Providence Phoenix here