Dubuque Museum of Art

Dubuque, IA



8/26/04 RL note: At the time of publishing of this article the Museum had a previous URL which was misused by a third party and caused the Museum to obtain the present Web address. We have substituted the current URL at the Museum's request.


James D. Butler: "Views Along the Mississippi River"

September 1 to November 15, 2000


Today as throughout history, the Mississippi River is intrinsically linked with the lives of the people living in the center of the United States. Bloomington, Illinois artist James Butler produces oil paintings which observe the links between agricultural, industrial, and commercial infrastructure with the Mississippi River as a vital transportation resource.

Although commercial development and the Civil Corps of Engineer's manipulations of this central water way brings prosperity and growth to the region, it: also poses environmental risks. Butler records the sublime organic beauty of the wilderness juxtaposed against the geometries of civilization. Additionally, the tragically deceptive confidence of the human's control over nature is captured through several depictions of flooded communities. Throughout Butler's broad panoramic compositions observers will realize the vital and complex relationships between the Mississippi and the people who live along it's course. (left: Lake Itasca (Headwaters of the Mississippi River), 1997-1998, oil on panel, 21 x 24 inches)

Choosing sites from Lake Itasca, Minnesota, where the river begins, to the Gulf of Mexico where it ends, Butler presents 11 panoramas of the mighty Mississippi. (left: The Crescent City (New Orleans), 1995-1998, oil on panel, 48 x 75 inches)

In connection with the "James D. Butler: Views Along the Mississippi River" exhibition, the museum is pleased to welcome guest lecturer, Joni L. Kinsey, Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Iowa on Friday, October 13, 2000 at 5:30 p.m. Ms. Kinsey will present a slide lecture, "James Butler's Panoramic Mississippi," exploring the relationship of his paintings to the history of American art. Remarks Kinsey, "The river itself has long been a focus of national attention, but Butler's recent series offer opportunities for new insights and perspectives." Directed to the general public as well as committed art lovers, this talk will range from our developing perspectives of landscape to Butler's working methods.

left to right: Hannibal Flooded, 1993, 1993-98, oil on canvas, 66 x 132 inches; Mississippi River Lock and Dam #11, 1991-98, oil on canvas, 66 x 132 inches; Threshold, 1990-91, oil on canvas, 7 x 11 1/2 feet; A View from Grandad Bluff, 1994-98, oil on canvas, 66 x 132 inches; The Falls of St. Anthony, 1995-97, oil on panel, 48 x 72 inches

Ms. Kinsey received her Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis in 1989 and her research interests focus on the art of the American landscape. Ms. Kinsey has written three books, Thomas Moran and the Surveying of the American West (1992), Plain Pictures: Images of the American Prairie (1996), and The Majesty of the Grand Canyon: 150 Years in Art (1998) as well as numerous articles and catalogue contributions.

James Butler was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, received his BS from the University of Nebraska, Omaha, and his MFA from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Butler has received numerous awards and honors. His works are in selected public collections including Art Institute of Chicago, the Butler Institute of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. (left: Tara (Grafton, Illinois - confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers), 1991-1998, oil on canvas, 66 x 96 inches)

rev. 9/21/00

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