I started following Kathy Butterly in 2016 when I saw her work at the Seattle Art Fair, and have been an avid fan since. I only wish I had purchased a piece back then. It’s been fun to watch her star power rise over the years. Butterly casts her pieces, often from store bought vases, and then manipulates them until she is happy with the form. Since the late 1980s she has made small scale ceramic objects ranging in height from three to nine inches.
I listened to Butterly lecture at the 92nd St Y Virtual Clay series and she was as interesting, smart and charming as her work. Butterly lives in NYC, and I’ve never seen a piece of hers that I don’t like. I couldn’t believe my good fortune when I found out that her show was not far from the Viola Frey show. While Frey’s pieces are often larger than life size, Kathy Butterly’s are tiny. Butterly said in her lecture that she can fire a piece as many as 40 times to build a surface comprised of layers of color. When you see a piece in person you can understand the depth and complexity of her glazes. Her first retrospective can be seen at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis through December 29th.
I took a few pictures before I was told that no photography was allowed, so below you will see the ones I took. You can buy the book from the retrospective and you will see all the pieces that are in the show, along with her nail polish collages on paper.
LIne Dance, 2012. Clay and glaze 4 5/8” x 4 1/2 “ x 4 1/2 in (front image) Distraction, 2018. Clay and glaze 4 7/8” x 6 1/4” x 4 1/4 in (back image)
There are three large rooms at this exhibit.
Twist, 2019. Clay and glaze. 8 1/4” x 7 1/4” x 8 in
I was unable to get to a show of Kathy Butterly’s work that James Cohan presented in New York in 2018, He was nice enough to pull out a few pieces he had not yet shipped when I visited a few days after the show closed. He allowed me to take pictures which you can see below, and I got my friend Mary to become a Butterly fan as well. Many of the pieces at his show were on loan to the retrospective, so all good things come to those who are obsessed.