Like many great artists, Curt Butler excels in a variety of creative interests. The difference between many artists and Curt is that he has found a way to align his seemingly unrelated artistic interests to benefit his creative intention, which is positively reflected in his art. Between seven years, two colleges, and Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, Curt explored fine arts as well as graphic arts and animation. “I feel like I got the best out of all the art departments,” Curt says, “which helped me to have a wide breadth of art-related knowledge and begin to bring those worlds together into a cohesive whole.”
After obtaining his masters degree from Savannah College of Art and Design in 1998, he’d planned to work as an art teacher full-time and remain a part-time professional artist. Not being able to find a teaching position in Savannah led him to apply in neighboring cites, which landed him a position in Charlotte. With his wife working in Shelby, Gastonia seemed like a good place to settle down between their two jobs. Opportunity led Curt’s family to Charlotte, though at first he did not intend to stay.
“I thought that I might start a career in the Charlotte area, but that I’d eventually move. I even had aspirations of moving out West. In the coming years, I came to realize that Charlotte was growing into a cultural city at the same rate I was growing as a professional artist and it felt like a natural fit.”
Since moving to Charlotte, Curt has seen its art scene grow: the addition of the Bechtler Museum, growth of the Mint Museum, and the amount of local galleries doubling. Just as Charlotte’s art scene grew, so did his professional career. Since 2006, Curt has gone from a part-time artist and full-time teacher to a full-time artist and part-time teacher. This simultaneous growth has given Curt an emotional attachment to the city.
“I feel like I have grown into an artist as Charlotte has grown into a cultural destination, and we continue to inspire one another in that way.”
As any great artist, Curt Butler constantly challenges and reinvents himself. Though often different in subject matter, each of his series of paintings tell a story — something that stuck with him from his animation classes at SCAD.
“I love the idea of telling a story through color and mood in a body of paintings, the way an animator has to tell the color story of a scene for a short segment and make it work within the context of the movie as a whole.
His technique is almost sculptural and his style is self-described as Contemporary Expressionism, which seeks to invoke a mood or feeling with mark-making and layering. Using oil paint and encaustic allows him to add a sculptural element to all of his paintings. His gestural brush strokes and bold color palettes express a specific mood that helps to tell each story he conveys.
”Encaustic is wax work with some sort of heating element, mixed with pigment. Sometimes I use cold wax and other times I heat it up to produce different textural effects. I got into encaustic because it gives me a textural and emotional response to the subject that is tactile and malleable and allows me to carve back into the layers of my paint.”
You can see works by Curt at Sozo Gallery in Charlotte, or see his work and take a class or workshop at his studio in historic downtown Gastonia.
For a bit more info, visit www.butlerstudio.org.