Schedule About Exhibitions Press Submission Links Contact Semai Gallery

Winnipeg Free Press, January 18, 2007

One of our top art exports

Artists taking business into their own hands

By Lorne Roberts

With so many of our young local artists receiving so much hype these days (did you happen to catch the multi-page spread of local art star Marcel Dzama in the December 2006 issue of Vanity Fair?), itfs sometimes easy to forget about Paul Butler.

While others continue to attract major press both here and abroad, Butler has quietly remained one of our cityfs top art exports, with solo and group shows in a dozen major cities last year alone.

Currently, Butler has a single work on display in the local Semai Gallery, a new space run by recent U of M grad Takashi Iwasaki, who has been garnering national recognition for his own work.

The work Butler has displayed here is deliberately cryptic and vague, as his work often tends to be. In a bit of a departure from his familiar collage pieces, though, this one is mounted on a glowing light box, and contains a single phrase in bold red letters: Power To The Artist.

According to Butler, the work refers to a recent movement of artists gtaking control of how their work is represented, exhibited, and circulated, (and) wearing multiple hats at the same time.h

Butler says that not only are more and more artists branching out into publishing, running galleries and organizing their own exhibits, theyfre also gtaking art outside of traditional spaces, to connect with a larger audience and break down barriers.h

Few have done that as effectively as Butler in recent years, as his gcollage partyh shows have brought audiences into major galleries from Winnipeg to Berlin, New York City and Los Angeles. Rather than simply being passive viewers of art, however, attendees at Butlerfs collage parties are expected to pick up some scissors, a magazine and some glue, and to actually help create the show.

As with much of his work, then Butlerfs recent installation at Semai Gallery is part of his ongoing effort to recognize and empower the artist in all of us.