"Ken Butler and his performance with the Golf Club Sitar --- is winner of the first place prize ..... his performance was the best and most engaging ..... he played a spectacular improvisation that, to the ear, seemed to transform his instrument into a sitar, a rock star’s guitar and a Baroque virtuoso’s fiddle ..... Butler’s improvisation was the most dazzling and truly musical performance we’d heard.
- Allan Kozinn, the Guthman Musical Instrument Competition, 3/2016
“… a ceaselessly inventive instrument builder, coaxed flashing lights and simple, throbbing melodies from his one-string “K-Board,” over which blew an extraordinary trumpet-like solo on a small strip of latex.”
- Steve Smith, The New York Times, 11/16/13
“Ken Butler’s work is enormously interesting, particularly his idea of recycling and giving voice to found objects.”
- Laurence Libin, curator of musical instruments at The Metropolitan Museum, The New York Times, 6/12/94
"Returning to Celant’s show the next day, I caught Carnegie Museum architecture curator Ray Ryan speaking into Laurie Anderson’s altered, 1979 phone booth, and then lucked into a performance by Ken Butler, a New York sculptor who has made four hundred musical instruments out of found objects"
- Linda Yablonsky, Scene and Herd, ArtForum, at Art Or Sound in Venice, 6/16/14
“Ken Butler is a truly unique and forward-looking artist/madman/explorer of sonic possibilities. By making instruments out of every imaginable common-use item, he actually makes them sound great and has something to say on them."
- Bob Margolis, The Woodstock Times, 11/17/05
“One of music’s most ingenious and eccentric personalities.”
- John Zorn, Tzadik records, 10/97
"Ken Butler is an astonishing performer who delivers fiery world-infused compositions not unlike a Hindu avatar coming to “burn the midnight lamp”.
- Glenn Max, Knitting Factory Press, 9/95
"Seeing Ken Butler live is an extraordinary experience.”
- Nadja Sayej, Noisey Music blog/Vice Magazine, 12/18/13
“..a crazy instrument builder who can get virtuoso riffs from anything.”
- Kyle Gann, The Village Voice, 12/29/92
“Mr. Butler’s performance at Aqua Art Miami …. was diverting, funny, and in the end, irresistible.”
- Mario Naves, The New York Observer, 12/18/06
“It’s not just that Ken Butler knows how to bow stringed parade rifles, play dental dams like trumpets, and construct keyboards from aluminum crutches, it’s that he knows how to play them well."
- Neil Strauss, The Village Voice, 5/14/91
“A Ken Butler performance is never less than unforgettable."
- (C.M.) Flavorpill.net , 5/11/05
“…. inventiveness, chops, beauty, power and humor in a dazzling display of energetic virtuosity! (In addition to the phenomenal instrument design!)"
- Dave Lynch, All Music Guide, 2/2/04
“Butler can play anything from umbrellas to power tools ...and, amazingly, he achieves more melodic lucidity than his instruments warrant.”
- Kyle Gann, The Village Voice, 9/10/96.
These impromptu instruments are sights in themselves.....exhibited in galleries...a multimedia spectacle ...video of insects and insect-like machines, synchronized to the millisecond with Mr. Butler’s riffs ... the wizrardry of his creations...”
- Alex Ross, The New York Times, 1/23/96.
“The Dr. Seuss of new music.”
- Kyle Gann, The Village Voice, 1/23/96.
“Object Opera is a fascinating conglomeration of indescribable visual complexity..........a riotous cosmos of layered light, sound, and motion.....a powerful sense of form...
- Andrea Gilbert, ARTI Art Today, 9/95.
...it’s keyboard can turn even someone with a tin ear into an instant musical genius.....the interactivity is exhilarating.”
- Kim Levin, The Village Voice, 7/11/95.
"..musician-turned-Dada-sculptor--or is it the other way around?..”
- Kyle Gann, The Village Voice, 7/11/95.
“The show’s star instrument maker is Ken Butler...sculptor and experimental musician.”
- Rita Reif, The New York Times, 6/12/94.
“Viewing the show is like a window into a brilliant brain …. as sculpture, these juxtapositions are immediate, entertaining and evocative ….. the work is, to its credit, immediately identifiable as solely his own.”
- Brian Libby, The Portland Oregonian, 5/4/07
“...astounded the audience with surprising momentum...the leading figure of a new generation of synaesthetic artists.”
“..legendary builder of hybrid instruments....was able to draw astonishlng expressions of life from his instruments....virtuosically...a maestro of the visual arts..”
- Wolf Kampmann, NZ/M Magazine, Berlin, 3/95, Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin, Germany, 12/9/94.
Bibliography (not up to date)
“Fuzzy Memory” Monkey Spoon review, Alison B. Levy, Culturecatch.com, 7/11
“Monkey Spoon/Kim Foster Gallery” Jill Conner ARTQUIPS online, 7/11
“Monkey Spoon: From the Curator’s Perspective” Dominick Lombardi, Art Experience NYC New York, NY Vol. I, No.3 Page 92, 7/11
“Radical Instruments of Sound & Vision”, GCCA Arts Alive, Catskill, NY, 5-6/11
“Repurposing with a Passion”, Public Art & Ecology mag., Dominick Lombardi, Beijing, 5/11
W&G News and Art, article about WiIliamsburg 2000 exhib, 3/11
NY Daily News, Feature Story, NYC, 11/2/10
3rd Ward Magazine, Brooklyn, NY, Feature Story, Summer Issue
The Roanoke Times, Virginia, “In Death I Sing” exhibition, review, Tad Dickens, 5/17/09
The Columbus Dispatch, “Offbeat Orchestra”, Kaizaad Kotwai, 7/13/08
The Dayton Daily News.com, “Concert brings together art and music”, 6/22/08
Dayton City Paper, “Ken Butler’s Hybrid Arts”, Meredith Moss, 6/20-26/08
Dayton City Paper, “Sight and Sound”, Jud Yalkut, 6/18-24/08
The Dayton Daily News, “Plucking art from the trash”, Meredith Moss, 5/25/08
The Great Neck Record, performance preview, 10/25/07
The Brooklyn Paper, art review, Travis Stewart, 9/22/07
Great Neck Record, performance preview, 5/10/07
The Portland Oregonian, review, “Art to Play and Display”, Brian Libby, 5/4/07
Via AAA Magazine, exhibition preview, 5-6/07
The New York Observer, "Celebrity, Real Estate, Fashion— Oh, and Art—in Miami Beach", Mario Naves, 12/18/06
The Portland Oregonian, art review at Elizabeth Leach Gallery, D.K. Row, 12/1/06
The Berkshire Eagle, Pittsfield, Mass, 7/14/06
Ripley’s Believe it or Not #3, (book) Ripley’s Publications, 2006
New Yorker magazine, Goings on About Town listings, Brooklyn Galleries, 5/15/06
The New York Times, Selected Art Listings review, Ken Johnson, 5/5/06
North Adams Transcript, Mass, “Making Music”, 4/3/06
Wagmag (critic’s pick), “Art of the Neighborhood II”, TLC, Brooklyn, William Powhida, 2/06
Charleston Gazette, (cover story), “The Music of Art – Hybrid Suite”, Bob Schwarz, 7/7-13/05
Charleston Daily Mail, “Kind of a Mad Scientist”, Cheryl Caswell, 7/7/05
The Ithaca Times, “Art Meets Music”, Nancy Geyer, 4/20/05
Hungarian Architecture Magazine (Magyar Epitomuveszet), “Another Voice: Alternative Instruments”, Gyorgy Szego, 1/05
Catalog, “Unplugged Sculptured Musical Instruments”, Payne Gallery, Moravian College, Bethlehem, Penn. 12/04
Nepszabadsag Newspaper, Budapest, Hungary, “Dead Objects Begin to Speak”. 10/22/04
Budapest Paper, “Music from a Hockey Stick”, M.K.R. 10/04
Gallery and Studio Magazine, Brooklyn Museum Open House review, 6-8/04
Metro Times, Detroit (Cover story), "Rapturous Contraptions", W. Kim Herron, 1/28/04
The University Record, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, (preview), 1/26/04
The Ann Arbor Spotlight, "Anxious Objects Give Voice", Roger Lelievre, 1/29/04
Current, Ann Arbor, article by Josh Steichmann, 1/04
Sculpture Magazine, "Ken Butler", review by Michael Amy, 6/03
Tools As Art, The Hechinger Collection, (92-page catalog), International Arts and Artists, Washington, D.C., 2/03
The Bona Venture, Stephanie Boyle, St. Bonaventure University, NY, 9/13/02
The Daily Collegian, Michael Yoder, Penn.Stae University, PA. 7/11/02
Oregon City News, Clackamus Review, Dawn Taylor, 5/9/02
The Portland Oregonian, Oregon, 5/9/02
The News-Times, Ridgefield, Cnn, (Aldrich Museum), Susan Tuz, 4/26/02
6C Press, Ridgefield, Cnn, Amy Grabowski, 4/25/02
Nine articles in papers in Bremen, Germany for Radio Bremen Festival , 6/01
Sculpture Magazine, Ken Butler-The Voice of Anxious Objects, Judith Page, 1-2/01
The Providence Journal, Providence, RI, 11/2/00
New York Resident, "Music Man", exhibition review by Chris MacLeod, 10/16/00
The New York Times, concert photo preview, 10/1/00
B. Smith Magazine, style section, 8-9,00
People Magazine, Nancy Matsumoto, (photo by Doug Levere), 5/29 /00
GO Brooklyn, Lisa J.Cutis, 5/22/00
Brooklyn Heights Courier, 5/1/2000
Sports Illustrated, (w. photo), 4/24/00
Brooklyn Journal of Arts and Urban Affairs, A&E, 4/13-20/00
Time Out, Takeout section, (Kitchen preview), 5/3/00
The New York Times, (photo front page of Arts & Leisure), 3/26/00
The Rockland Journal News, New York, Emily Kratzer, 4/6/00
The New York Times Westchester Edition, Dominick Lombardi, 4/2/00
The Rockland Journal News, New York, Laura Fasbach, 2/21/00
Antiques and the Arts Weekly, 2/11/00
The Spokesman Review, Spokane, Wash. Doug Clark,11/16/99
The Spokesman Review, Spokane, Wash. 1(photo, preview)1/17/99
The Inlander, Spokane, Wash, Sheri Boggs, 11/10-16/99
Super Express, Polish-American Daily, 11/26/99
Musical Instrument Makers of America, "Hearts and Hands", photo by Jake Jacobsen, (book) Konemann Press, 1999
The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, Jonathan Nicolas, 4/2/99
Smithsonian Magazine, "Concerto for Pencilina and Sewer Flute", Bruce Watson, 4/99.
The Washington Post Magazine, " Tool Jazz", (with 11 photos), John Lewis, 3/7/99.
The Portland Oregonian, Portland, D.K. Row, 3/4/99.
New York Daily News, 2/26/99
Style Magazine, Detroit, Michigan, Suzanne Chessler, fall 98
The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit, Michigan, "Mystery Dance", Lynn Crawford, 10/98
The Observer and Eccentric, Detroit, Michigan, Maria Luisa Belmonte, 10/18/98
The Geneva Tribune, Switzerland, Daniel Robellaz, 11/16/98
The New York Times, Roberta Smith, 11/6/98
Experimental Musical Instruments, Dean Suzuki, 12/98
Le Matin, Lausanne, Switzerland, Vincent Borcard, 9/14/98
The Geneva Tribune, Switzerland, jest, 9/14/98
Le Matin, Lausanne, Switzerland, “Impossible n’est pas luthier”,VincentBorcard,9/5/98
The Portland Oregonian, Portland, Lynn Darroch, 8/19/98
Anodyne Mag. Portland, Rolf Semprebon, 4/98
The Resident, NYC, “The Sound of Art”, Andy Battaglia, 2/11/98
New York Magazine, Ethan Smith, 1/19/98
The Staten Island Advance, Shawn Moynihan, 1/16/98
The Bergen Record, Lisa Rose, 1/9/98
The New York Post, Tom Roe, 1/7/98
Guitar Magazine, feature article by BG, 3/97
Newsday, NYC, Julia Szabo, 2/28/97
The Portland Oregonian, Marty Hughley, 2/21/97
Rhythm Music Magazine, Howard Mandel, 12/96
The Portland Oregonian, Jonathan Nicolas, 8/12/96
New Haven Paper, Cnn, 6/96
The New Yorker, 1/23/96
The Village Voice, Kyle Gann, 1/23/96
The New York Times, Alex Ross, 1/23/96
“Gravikords, Whirlies & Pyrophones: Experimental Musical Instruments”, 96-page book and CD, text by Bart Hopkin, Ellipsis Arts, CD 3530, 1996.
Arti (Art Today), Andrea Gilbert, Issue 26, 11/95
The Village Voice, Gann/Levin, 7/11/95
City Paper, Baltimore, Charles Cohen, 3/22/95
Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin, Wolf Kampmann, 12/9/94
Eindhoven Dagblad, Holland, Rene Van Peer, 12/5/94
Revue et Corrige no.22, France, Jerome Noetinger, 12/94
Leonardo Magazine vol. 27 #4, gallery section, 1994
Strings Magazine, Hollis Taylor, 11-12/94 #45
The New York Times, Rita Reif, 6/12/94
Bourges Festival in France, 10 local articles, 7 regional and TV, radio press, 4/19-24/94
Winston-Salem Journal, N. Carolina, Gordon Sparber, 2/11/94
Experimental Musical Instruments, Nicasio, Ca, Bart Hopkin, 3/94
The New York Times, Roberta Smith, 11/28/93
The Houston Chronicle, Texas, Rick Mitchell, 10/29/93
Senken-Shimbun, Tokyo, Japan, Yoshiko Sugimoto, 7/93
VOIR, Montreal, Canada, Luc Boulanger, 6/93
The Gazette, Montreal, Canada, Paul Delean, 5/14/93
Waterfront Week, Brooklyn, Ethan Pettit, 4/7/93
Experimental Musical Instruments, Nicasio, Ca, 3/93
Artforum, review by Keith Seward, 3/93
High Performance, New Music Across America, Iris Brooks, 92
The Village Voice, Kyle Gann, 12/29/92
The Portland Oregonian, Randy Gragg, 12/18/92
The New York Times, Bernard Holland, 12/7/92
CODA Magazine, Toronto, Mark Chenard, 7-8/92
New York Magazine, Brad Gooch, 6/92
The Portland Oregonian, Barry Johnson, 9/4/92
Guitar Player Magazine, article and cover photo, Bill Milkowski, 7/92
New York Press, Axes Bold As Love, Neil Strauss, 1/29/92
The Staten Island Advance, James Kass, 11/29/91
The Portland Oregonian, Marty Hughley, 8/24/91
The Portland Oregonian, Jonathan Nicolas, 8/13 & 8/18/91
Effet Externe, Vittel, France, Ken Butler Interview, Arnaud Duchemin, 9/91
Willamette Week, Portland, Greg Morris, 8/22/91
Sculpture Magazine, Pacific NW Dossier, Mathew Kangas, 7/91
The Portland Oregonian, "Life As A Hybrid", Randy Gragg, 7/28/91
El Commercio, Lima, Peru, 7/14/91
Ojo Magazine, Lima, Peru, Carlos Espinoza,7/12/91
The Lima Times, arts writer, 7/12/91
Caretas Magazine, Lima, Maria Elena Cornejo, 7/8/91
The Village Voice, Neil Strauss, 5/14/91
Waterfront Week, Brooklyn, Rube Fenwick, 3/1/91
Het Apollohouse, Eindhoven, Holland, 5 Years 1985-90, 1991
(for bibliography from 1990 - 1973, contact the artist)
Media and TV appearances
Feature Story, VICE TV, NYC, 10/10
TV and radio, Dayton, Ohio, 5/08
TV story, Charleston, W. Virginia, 7/14/05
Radio Interview, WVPN NPR, Charleston, W. Virginia, 7/14/05
Radio Interview, Tilos Radio, Budapest, Hungary, 10/18/04
TV interview, MTV1, Budapest, Hungary, 10/18/04
TV Promo for The Detroit Festival of the Arts, FOX TV, Detroit, 6/12/0
Radio feature, "Ken Butler's Hybrid Instruments", on Stateside with Charity Nebbe, NPR, Michigan Radio WUOM, Ann Arbor, MI, 6/18/04
Radio feature, "Ken Butler's Hybrid Instruments", Studio 360 with Kurt Anderson, produced by Mallory Kasdan, NPR. WNYC radio, NYC 5/31/03, 2/21/04
Live appearance and interview, NPR, WNYC radio, New York, John Schaeffer's "New Sounds", 4/00.
Feature story on Ripley's Believe It Or Not, FOX TV, 1/00.
Live appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC, LA, 4/5/99.
Feature stories on CNN International by Jeanne Moos, CNBC by Alex Dawson (also ran on NBC news), NYC,1/98.
Station ID’s for MTV (M2), “A Guide to (Really) Alternative Music”, Monad Films, NYC, 1997.
Feature story, “Another Story From Planet Earth”, Fuji Television, Tokyo, Mado Productions, 5/95.
Live appearance for Joe Boxer Promotion, (w. Gilbert Gottfried) Times Square, NY, Beth Grossman, C.M.A. Productions, 3/27/97.
Feature story on “City Arts” by Harvey Wang, PBS, Ch. 13, NYC, 9/95. Also included in City Arts program featuring performer Judith Ren-Lay, 10/95.
Feature story on WWOR-TV Ch.9, NYC, “Scene and Heard”, by Heidi Kemp, 6/95.
Live appearance, Sound F/X, Fox Cable, 4/95
French Television, FR3, stories from St. Brieuc, Bourges Festivals, 9/93, 4/94, 8/94. Also 8 live radio appearances.
Live appearance “To Tell The Truth”, NBC, Burbank, Ca. 1991.
Live appearances, KTV, CNBC, NY, 1990 & 91.
Live appearance, Metropolis, Montreal Television, 1990.
Appearance, “Buzz”, MTV with Julia Heyward, 1990. Also appearance in Alien Artbreak, MTV, 1987.
Feature on news, “Live at 5”, NBC, NY, by Conni Collins, 5/87.
Feature story, “P.M. Magazine”, NBC, Portland, Oregon, by Cheryl Hansen, 1986.
Stories on news channels, NBC, ABC, CBS, KPTV, KPBS, in Portland, Oregon, prior to 1988 (move to NY).