Feature Articles

June 2013

Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston Offers Works by Cheryl Baskins Butler

The Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC, is presenting Cheryl Baskins Butler Invitational: The Birds of Desire, on view at the Dock Street Theatre’s Drawing Room, through June 9, 2013.

Featuring this year’s Piccolo Spoleto Spotlight Concerts Poster Artist, this exhibition is a compilation of Cheryl Baskins Butler’s recent paintings, drawings and collages.

According to Buddhist teachings, desire and its counterpart, attachment, underpin all suffering. Butler’s birds of desire walk, perch, argue, feed and soar around this basic tenet of Buddhist philosophy. The artist/bird-watcher’s study of this concept has required her to journey outward only so far as her birdfeeder and inward as near as her own psyche. Butler has made some discoveries from her reflections and created works that are both contemplative and whimsical. Her images are rich with grackles and blackbirds, ubiquitous avian species that often pass a birdwatcher’s field of view without a second glance.

Butler’s artist’s eye, however, has rediscovered these birds and she has cast them as strong visual and metaphorical players in her work. They perform a variety of roles. Some are purely visual, illustrating the interplay of black objects and color fields. Other bold, black silhouettes invite the viewer into the scenes. Devoid of extraneous visual trappings, they connect him/her to the compositions’ underlying concepts and actions. The images cease to be about birds, and become about us. They explore such human conditions as distraction, doubt, aspersion, comfort, desire and attachment. This shift in perspective opens avenues for individual reflection and invites collective dialogues where questions may arise.

In creating Aspirations, the acrylic selected for the 2013 Piccolo Spoleto Spotlight Concert Series poster, Butler reflected on the latter concept- achieving greater heights. She drew upon her years of observation, experience and personal impressions of Charleston’s cultural, creative and natural heritage. The painting’s architectural features echo tradition and inspiration, components she considers synonymous with the city. While substantial and time honored, these shapes are also lyrical. They possess elements of spontaneity and asymmetry that represent Charleston’s more contemporary visage and speak to her transition into the 21st century.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Office of Cultural Affairs at 843/724-7305 or visit (www.piccolospoleto.com).

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