Spirituality of Art – JR Butler (Part 2 of 2)

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JR Butler welcoming visitors to his NC Arts Incubator exhibit, 2018. Photo by Barbara Hengstenberg
Digital art by JR Butler

I barely make it by some days fighting poverty and mental illness but art is the one thing above all others that rejuvenates my desire to live! It is what raises some mortals up to a higher understanding. Just to clarify though, I am not saying being an artist will make you a god. No. But it does have a spirituality about it that I believe can bring people closer to their vision of enlightenment. Consider also that aside from the act of creation, it is also one way to live on past your days on this physical plane. Living on not only in the memories of family and close friends but in those whom your art has touched. For a person who doesn’t feel they have much value, this is a treasure that no one can take.

Sculpture by JR Butler
Sculpture by JR Butler

I feel that we are approaching an exciting place for art which only makes me want to continue on this path even longer. The addiction gets stronger the longer I go. What I see though is a younger generation of artists who are hard wired to do something entirely different than most generations of artists and I plan to stick around for this ride into the future of art and ultimately humanity. It is upon us, friends. I see things I had only dreamed of in the work of young artists. Art is a language that has the ability to transcend all differences and I see new artists speaking that language with more fluency everyday through social media and other outlets. I’m so excited with all the new ideas about living well and enjoying the arts and humanity with less boundaries. And for this I will continue to savor every breath I take even when I feel suffocated. It’s what makes me who I am and allows me to take my art to those who understand and need it. It is for me, but it is also for them. The fact that some get what I’m conveying encourages me that there are people like myself in the world. Sometimes I wish there were more like me even if some social ideals may disagree with having more people with mental issues. I’ve got news, you’re not excluded! I don’t care who you are. Please recognize that we all have different struggles and try to respect and help each other. That’s part of the message I am getting the most from today’s youth, too, globally! I want to stick around for the dismantling of outdated ideas, for people who are looking at the creative possibilities for the future but recognizing some of the practicality of older technologies and ideas from our global history as a guide to more informed solutions for a healthier future for all that exists on this plane.

Detached by JR Butler
Mother by JR Butler

I am all about continuing to learn to evolve and hopefully provide an outlet as well as a voice for others who share similar mental health and social struggles. I want to have a voice for myself that hopefully helps others to find their voices. I advocate for the kind-hearted people who are marginalized or struggling, I advocate for the starving artists who create for their own well-being and the well-being of others. I advocate for the mentally ill, who struggle to continue on despite their challenges, as well as those who’ve lost the battle trying because they were not able to get what they needed here. I advocate for those people who try to help others with the knowledge that there will be times when all their efforts may not change the outcome. I advocate for those who find themselves in poverty or chaos who strive even though the odds are stacked against them. I want the world to know these people and start to recognize their worth in this world just as I want to be recognized by my worth as a human being — a worth that has nothing to do with our financial status but is founded on mutual respect for one another as fellow thinking and feeling entities.

These are all things that shape me as an artist but also as a human being. For me, they are one in the same, my life is just as much my art as any physical object I create.

Pottery by JR Butler

Writing for the Animals

Featured

As the Writer-in-Residence at Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge, it is an honor for me to sit and talk with the residents, and to be allowed to tell their stories.

For example, sitting by the duck pond one day, the peace and tranquility of Dexter Duck and Channing Duck’s lives here at the Refuge brought to mind memories of a younger me swimming at The Lake….

“Closing my eyes, I listen
Comfort surrounds me
Cooled by the breeze as its feathery touch pushes aside the warm sun.

Bullfrogs croak their deep baritone greeting
Ducks quack like old friends gossiping over tea
Talking over one another
Their voices converging into steady harmonics….”

Read more…

WARNING: 100 Days of Welding Will Lead to More Days of Welding

I started following Mara Strayer’s 100 Day Challenge on Instagram a couple months ago.  I soon learned she lived within 10 minutes of me, and we’ve become good friends.  Always up for a challenge, we are currently undertaking the daily #CreativeSpringBoard Challenge (ending on the first day of spring), which you can follow on Mara’s Instagram page, as well as on mine: @SparkworkStudio and @WildesArt

Mara’s 100 Day Welding Challenge was very inspiring, so I invited her to be a guest blogger.  Enjoy her story, as well as some of her beautiful creations!

Barbara


I met Barbara Hengstenberg only very recently on Instagram. She found me somehow and seemed interested in my project at the time, #100DaysOfWelding2. As it works sometimes in social media, we started to form a relationship and discovered we live very close to each other, so, we met for coffee.

Barbara is such a kind, inclusive and positive person…she just makes you smile. She asked me if I would write a guest blog for her site to describe what #100DaysofWelding is and how I decided to do it. I thought it might be helpful to have a little background information first!

So, a brief history is that many years ago I graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in both Graphic Design and Metalsmithing/Silversmithing. I enjoyed careers in both fields but life went along and my husband and I decided to start a family. We decided that what was best for us was for me to stay home with our girls…and the years went by. In fact, it was when my oldest was 18, I realized that it was now time I find something for myself.

I stay motivated with goals. I have done this my whole adult life. It’s kind of a strange thing but if I have a goal, I will get it done and if I don’t have a goal, I will waste my time. The key for me is to set realistic goals so that I can actually meet them. Then, I feel satisfied and can move on to the next. Some are big and lengthy and some are quick.

So, I decided on a big goal: obtain a welding certificate. I went to a local community college and completed a one year program. It took two semesters while my daughters were in their Senior and Freshman years of High School.

I learned to mig, tig and stick weld, plasma and oxy cut among many other things. I completed this goal and got my certificate in May of 2016. I could have easily been satisfied with my accomplishment and welded just for me and just for fun, but that’s not what I did. I set a few more goals to keep me moving forward. I opened an Etsy shop, got my work into a local shop (Chatham Home in downtown Pittsboro) and got into my first juried show at The Arts Center in Carrboro. I felt that proud sense of accomplishment after meeting each one of these.

I do, however, still have a house and family! And, off course, sometimes too easily, I put off my welding to do the day to day things that seem more important. The meal planning, shopping, laundry, errands and carpools seem endless and still need to get done. Consequently, my current projects tend to get shoved further and further down the list. I needed a way to get and stay motivated EVERY DAY!

One day, while browsing around Instagram, I found a possible solution. An artist had challenged herself to 100 days of creativity. She had created a hashtag: #The100DayProject and asked others to join her. This artist, @elleluna , works mostly with paint, but suggested that each participant creates their own individual hashtag and join the community. It was a lightbulb moment for me, the perfect way to find a little creativity every day. So, I did it and created the hashtag #100DaysOfWelding , which amazingly had not already been used. Some days I would post pictures of a finished piece and other days it would be a work in progress or a sketch. As long as I was working each day, it was forcing me to focus. I met quite a few other 100 day participants along the way and a new community was formed. Many of the followers I gained were fellow 100-dayers. A few would like every single one of my posts and comment with words of support and encouragement and I did this for them as well.

On day 100 of the challenge, there was much celebration. I felt both a sense of relief and accomplishment.

But, something else happened, I saw the final post of one of the artists who had also taken the challenge. Cate of @lets_make_a_ruckas is a needlework artist and posted a small round finished work every day. On the last day of the challenge, she posted a picture of all 100 of her perfect round pieces all together and it blew me away. It was so awesome that she had this plan from the beginning and so was able to finish with a huge impact.

So, of course, I had to do this too.

I planned it out and this 2nd time around with my #100DaysOfWelding it would be #100DaysofWelding2 . Each day, I posted a finished charm. Each different but all 3” round. I planned it so that on the final day, January 1st 2018 symbolizing a New Year and a “Fresh Start”, I would post a picture of all 100 pieces!

Here are a few of the individual posts…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the whole darn thing altogether!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       I met my goal!

During that recent coffee date with Barbara, we planned a new challenge of our own. We decided to work every day towards a finished piece that would be unveiled on the First Day of Spring, April 20th! We are calling it the #CreativeSpringBoard Challenge. I would encourage anyone looking for inspiration to challenge themselves to their own #100dayproject or something similar. Whether you are stuck in a rut or needing to stay focused, it will feel good to be a part of a community and work towards a destination.

Follow on Instagram @SparkworkStudio or Twitter @SparkworkStudio

A Day with Eric Sommer: My Kind of Music – Slapping, Sliding, Stabbing

Ever hear a musician for the first time and say, “Wow, I could listen to this music all day!”? For me, it’s a rarity. I consider myself a music snob…I know what I like, and that’s that. (I’m also a comedy snob, but that’s another story.) Back in October, Bill and I were headed to a Halloween festival. We had read about the performer, Eric Sommer, whose music was billed as folk/blues/Americana/rock influenced by the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Steve Howe, Randy Travis, and Elvis Costello. Wait a minute…really? A favorite guitarist in our household is Steve Howe. We were intrigued, yet skeptical that perhaps there was some hyperbole in this write-up.

Indeed, we were blown away on that Halloween evening, listening to Sommer’s music and banter with the crowd. There was no exaggeration in that initial write-up. Bill and I knew right away this was a musician who belongs on WildesArt and whose music deserves to be heard by the masses.

Fast forward two months, and I find myself reflecting on a day spent video-recording the awe-inspiring singer/songwriter and guitar master, Eric Sommer. Setting up in the old Chatham Mills building in downtown Pittsboro, North Carolina, Sommer strolled through the door, a black Vivian Westwood fedora atop his head, carrying guitar upon guitar: a Jay Tercer parlor guitar; twin black and white checked Trinity River guitars; a Taylor acoustic embellished with mother-of-pearl inlay; a 1951 Sears Silverstone that looked as though it was once strummed in the doorway of an Airstream trailer on a lazy summer afternoon; and the Holy Grail of guitars: an ageless Fender Telecaster, worn from years of use, its fret-board patina announcing a history of glory days.

With steel finger picks on each finger of Sommer’s “strumming” hand (I use that term lightly, as his playing is better described in terms of slaps, slides, and stabs), one foot on a volume pedal and the other foot tapping out the beat on a kick box, Sommer drove us through a catalog of songs. These are tunes that tell a story…some are epic poetry laced with a guitar riffs and chorus. Others are fusion instrumentals or inspired by old-time Americana and bluegrass tunes. These songs will never fit into a one-hit-wonder mold. For instance, the song, Do Re Mi, played on the Jay Tercer, is not your kid’s note-scale music lesson. This song touches upon the psychedelic, using frequency waves a la Jimmy Page, and glides to superior riffs reminiscent of Steve Howe. Then, turning his instrument face-up flat, Sommer punctuates with a jolt of guitar bongos.

After eight hours of filling the old brick and wood warehouse with instruments and video equipment, the air still vibrating with music, it was a wrap. Eric will soon be setting off on national and European tours, and Bill will be working his wizardry on editing and packaging this collection of music videos. And I will be anxiously awaiting the release of each of these creations. Stay tuned…you won’t be disappointed.

Visit Eric Sommer’s website: www.EricSommer.com
Follow Eric on Facebook:  @ericsommermusic

Subscribe to WildesArt and to our WildesArt YouTube channel to stay up-to-date on new releases.

Special thanks to Chatham Mills.