Member Spotlight: The Denver Botanic Gardens presents its 2015 outdoor exhibition: Deborah Butterfield: The Nature of Horses
Horses have been the subject of the American sculptor’s work for more than 30 years. The exhibition is on view May 23 – October 18, 2015, and is included with admission. An exhibition catalogue will be released in the summer.
The majority of the sculptures in Deborah Butterfield are crafted of cast bronze, originally created in wood collected from locations around the world. Molds are made of each branch, the wood is burnt out and the cavity is filled with molten bronze. The bronze branches are welded together to erect the finished horse.
“Trees reflect their experiences in this world, serve as metaphors for our lives and help define the nature of each horse I build,” says Butterfield. “Because they are cast in bronze, even the most fragile and ephemeral branches become permanent, structural parts of my horses. The opportunity to have my sculptures interact with the varied landscapes and exhibits at the Gardens speaks poetically to my process.”
Since the late 1990s, cast bronze has been Butterfield’s material of choice, but the style and materials have evolved over the course of her career. She began working with plaster over a steel armature and by the mid1970s, she used natural materials such as mud, clay and sticks over a wire armature. In later work, Butterfield used found and industrial materials such as barbed wire, pipes and fencing.
Brian Vogt, Denver Botanic Gardens CEO, says, “The Butterfield horses provide a dynamic and organic complement to the Gardens’ varying landscapes and spark the imagination of the viewer. This is a year in which we are celebrating the Great Plains and similar steppe ecosystems around the world. There is no more iconic animal of the steppe than the horse.”
Butterfield divides her time between Montana and Hawaii. Her work is represented in more than 20 museum collections, including the Denver Art Museum (which is loaning three sculptures), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Walker Art Center. The sculptures presented in Deborah Butterfield are on loan from the artist, museum collections, private collectors, galleries and universities around the country.
RELATED PROGRAMS (All ticket prices include admission to the Gardens.)
Broken: Horse-Riding Textiles
May 9 – August 9
This group exhibit presents weavings that developed as a result of horse culture and hold a special beauty and significance. The exhibit is on view in Gates Garden Court Gallery.
Deborah Butterfield Exhibition Tour
Every Sat and Sun, May 23 – Sep. 18, 9 a.m. or 6 p.m. | Sat and Sun, Sep. 19 – Oct. 18, 9 a.m. or 3 p.m.
$14, $7 member, includes Gardens admission
This one-hour, docent-led tour explores the artist’s inspiration, her artistic process and the role of horses in the West. Immerse yourself in artist Deborah Butterfield’s world of horses.
Deborah Butterfield Family Exhibition Tour
June 27 and 28; July 11, 19, 25 and 26; Aug. 16, 29 and 30; Sep.19 and 20, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
$26 adult/child combo, $14 member combo, $7-$13 additional person.
Embark on a journey of art and nature with the whole family to explore the Deborah Butterfield: The Nature of Horses exhibition. Geared toward children (ages 4-12), the guided exploration provides opportunities for families to experience art in an inspiring and active way.
Curator Conversation: Deborah Butterfield
Thursday, June 11, July 9, Aug. 13 and Sep. 10, 9-10 a.m.
$17, $10 member
Explore Deborah Butterfield’s sculptures with the keen eye of a curator. This one-hour tour deepens the understanding of the artist, her artistic development and what went into developing the exhibit. Be prepared to walk away thinking about horses in a novel way.
Deborah Butterfield Artist Talk Wednesday, Aug. 5, 6-8 p.m.
$15, $10 member
Deborah Butterfield shares her inspiration and approach to making her horse sculptures. She is known for her incredible craftsmanship and creative use of materials, placing her among the most respected and acclaimed artists of her generation.
Homeschool Day: Deborah Butterfield Exhibition Exploration Monday, Aug. 17, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
$11 per child (includes one free adult per child); $6.50 additional person
Journey through art and nature as you engage in a garden-wide exploration of Deborah Butterfield exhibition. Learn how art engages with the natural world. Children make a fanciful art piece inspired by the Butterfield’s work. Homeschool Days offer families the opportunity to explore plant-based themes through a variety of hands-on activities, tours and take-home projects. Activities are designed for children ages five and up.