Quincy University’s Gray Gallery to be host of exhibition by Peoria artist

Rodeo by William Butler

Quincy University’s Gray Gallery, located in Brenner Library, will host the art exhibition "A Shaped World," acrylic on a shaped pane, featuring works by William Butler from Peoria. | Photo courtesy of Quincy University

QUINCY — Quincy University’s Gray Gallery in Brenner Library will be the host of the art exhibition “A Shaped World”, acrylic on a shaped pane, featuring works by William Butler from Peoria. This free exhibition will take place from Feb. 21 to March 18 and is open to the public.

For each work, Butler channels detritus images from his subconscious — for instance, comic book imagery, pictographs, logos, typography and block printing. He goes for a surrealist approach with a pop art sensibility. Le Corbusier, Keith Haring, Elizabeth Murray and Joan Miro influence his work.

“Every painting begins with absent-minded doodles. I allow my subconscious to direct me, rather than planning the composition based on an initial idea,” Butler said. “These drawings are enlarged and developed into color studies. Creating a study gives me more confidence as I work on the final piece.”

He uses a jigsaw and rasp to cut out the shapes from MDO board. He then paints with acrylic using brushes and household paint rollers, experimenting with alternative paint applications.

“Happy accidents are welcome, while I balance the line between carelessness and order,” Butler said. “As I progress, I make conscious design decisions while remaining true to the initial doodle.”

Fascinated with the science behind pigment, Butler utilizes colors that are opposite on the color wheel to create a vibrating effect. Cutout work is a hybrid resolution of sculpture and painting.

“A clue to my creative spawn is my compulsion to resolve opposing forces,” Butler said. “The concept of a dual personality or opposing interpretations of the same event is very intriguing. Opposing forces can somehow occupy the same space, and it is all about managing the tension.”

Butler studied graphic design and illustration in college and worked in that field for about a decade, mostly for a toy company in a Chicago suburb. His work has been shown in galleries in the Midwest, New York and Toronto. For eight years, he sold hundreds of watercolor paintings and original relief prints in art fairs all over the Midwest, Florida and New York, winning many awards. He has work in the Ronald McDonald House in Peoria and in collections at Western Illinois University and Eastern Illinois University. He has maintained a studio at the Contemporary Art Center since 1996. Butler has served the Contemporary Art Center of Peoria as executive director since 2003.

For more information, contact Gray Gallery curator Robert Mejer at mejerbob@quincy.edu.

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