Artist to Col­lect: Ha­dyn But­ler

Arabella - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - writ­ten by Hugh Kruzel

En­light­ened Por­traits

writ­ten by Hugh Kruzel

The temp­ta­tion to la­bel the glass works of Ha­dyn But­ler as a mod­ern take on a tra­di­tional art, or as a dec­o­ra­tive ar­chi­tec­tural ac­ces­sory, would miss the in­ven­tive­ness and nar­ra­tive that is be­yond a plane both ap­peal­ing and vi­brant. Elec­tric, bold trans­paren­cies that ex­plore fun­da­men­tals of the fo­cal sub­ject are as much about Ha­dyn’s anal­y­sis of cul­ture as his own per­son­al­ity. His re­mark­able stained glass art, es­tab­lishes him as a colourist, and he em­braces this in stun­ningly skill­ful ways. This is his take on the world, his per­cep­tion, his un­der­stand­ing and his im­pres­sions ar­tic­u­lated. "It is with­out a doubt ex­plor­ing me and my place in the world," he ad­mits. Be­cause of this, Ha­dyn has fre­quently cap­tured cur­rent affairs and global dis­po­si­tion with­out even aim­ing to do so. While both print and on­line def­i­ni­tions of stained glass of­fer the ba­sic con­structs of how, what and where, Ha­dyn’s art is un­teth­ered from a nar­row his­tory and habit. It is true that his works re­tain the orig­i­nal in­gre­di­ents of con­trast­ing mo­saic frag­ments or­ga­nized within a sol­dered cop­per foil frame­work, but again Ha­dyn seems in­sis­tent on be­ing an icon­o­clast. Is his art dec­o­ra­tive? Pic­to­rial? Ab­stract? Are his themes saints, sin­ners, pa­trons, lead­ers, har­bin­gers? Does he draw from clas­si­cal tales of strug­gle, down­fall or sur­vival? Are his works to be viewed in grand venues? Has he ex­am­ined heraldic el­e­ments? Does flora or fauna have a role, or oc­cupy cor­ners as mo­tifs and men­tions of con­text? Are they sym­bolic? If all this de­fines the tra­di­tion of do­ing stained glass then, yes, he con­forms; but he finds in­ven­tive ways of ex­pres­sion. Go fur­ther into a mind that can with agility play with leit­mo­tifs of math­e­mat­ics, ge­ol­ogy, lit­er­a­ture, physics, and you be­gin to com­pre­hend the lay­ers of ideas that are be­yond what is seen. Cer­tainly, Ha­dyn uses coloured glass, but in ways that are unique and un­ex­pected. There is some­thing new and novel in his some­time in­cor­po­ra­tion of clar­ity in back­ground trans­mis­sion; a kalei­do­scopic play­ful­ness is the re­sult. Tex­tu­ral and trans­par­ent pieces of glass also have an in­ter­est­ing role in his over-arch­ing phi­los­o­phy of un­der­stand­ing when

a piece is done. "When it is right I don’t im­prove re­sults by forc­ing more. Fig­ur­ing out tech­nique, method­ol­ogy and pre­sen­ta­tion for some of this is in­tu­itive, how­ever, does any­thing re­ally hap­pen by chance?" Ha­dyn is right in ac­knowl­edg­ing that there are so many ways to in­ter­pret the con­se­quences of such cre­ativ­ity. "If some­one comes up to you and says ‘what’s that?’ then you have not done it right!" Through her stu­dio space on Lorne Street in Sud­bury, On­tario, Mary Lou Fab­bro, Ha­dyn’s life part­ner, has been an es­sen­tial fa­cil­i­ta­tor – in that the shop has been a launch pad for decades to those who have taken up glass craft as a hobby. It was here, some three decades ago, that Ha­dyn, a pro­fes­sional ge­ol­o­gist, be­gan his jour­ney in glass art. Com­mis­sions and re­pairs are done by col­league Jack Dardick, an in­de­pen­dent artist in his own right. This is clearly an ac­tive work­shop as well as a gallery. Mary Lou of­fers an in­sider’s take on Ha­dyn’s artis­tic gift: "Ha­dyn pulls out the per­son. He creates not just a face in stained glass. In uti­liz­ing colour, or how the im­age is struc­tured, we get a re­flec­tion of the char­ac­ter, what they have done, who they are. Ha­dyn ex­presses the sub­ject’s in­tel­lect, and soul." Ha­dyn is in­spired by mu­si­cians, artists, sci­en­tists, au­thors as well as pow­er­ful emo­tions and pas­sions but, for him, his sig­na­ture way of imag­in­ing, work­ing and pro­duc­ing cap­tures essence bet­ter

than any other me­dia. He also ac­cepts that be­cause much of what hap­pens in his build­ing of a panel is an it­er­a­tive process, he will at times be re­do­ing sec­tions and pieces; se­lect­ing new colour el­e­ments, or re­think­ing or re­build­ing en­tire ar­eas. "Light is the co-con­trib­u­tor to what I do. So, when ready, I place it in the win­dow and wait, and watch. You have to live with it be­fore you can call it com­plete. I willingly al­ter mis­takes when I’m not sat­is­fied with the re­sul­tant ef­fect." From se­lec­tion of an im­age, a highly pre­cise map is de­vel­oped of pat­terns and path­ways. And al­ways with an end goal be­ing con­sid­ered, you can see Ha­dyn’s mind work­ing on ways to achieve more than rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Trans­lat­ing his vi­sion first with pen­cil on pa­per, then strik­ing stronger marks and side­bars, the work evolves from a cen­tral spot to outer edges. Bent over a light ta­ble, Ha­dyn snaps a shard and looks up: "Man­del­brot in­flu­enced me. Fractals show up in much of what I do. Fi­bonacci se­quences or other the­o­ries might be the best an­swer to the prob­lem at hand. Maybe all of this to­gether is my so­lu­tion to how to achieve best re­sults. I have to square what is in my head with what hap­pens." If you be­lieve stained glass is es­sen­tially a two-di­men­sional sur­face, then guess again. Look through and be­yond. Depth – the third el­e­ment – is not the last; add time! From min­utes to sea­sons,

the en­vi­ron­ment im­pacts your view­ing. Ha­dyn’s stained glass cre­ations cel­e­brate in­di­vid­ual and group achieve­ments, en­ergy and con­scious­ness, but they also con­sider what is go­ing on out­side and ex­ter­nal to the panel’s lo­ca­tion. It is through the pas­sage of the planet from dark to day­light, and twi­light to twin­kle, where you see best the dy­namic of his choices in com­po­si­tion. Step to the left or right and the back­ground changes. Clouds pass, leaves and trees move and the qual­ity of the light-in­tense beams of sum­mer sparkle, the flat grey of fall, the in­tense blue of win­ter's depths, the gold glow af­ter a spring shower is ad­di­tive or sub­trac­tive of value and hue. "I have learned how to use el­e­ments that are out­side, and then vi­su­al­ize the amount of, and ef­fects of, re­frac­tion and dif­fu­sion of this on the glass. Get­ting it right doesn't al­ways hap­pen just like that," muses Ha­dyn. "I see some­thing and I try to solve it. What can I do with this thing? Cu­rios­ity. And you can’t force it. You have to let the back of the un­con­scious mind work." From in­side their north­ern On­tario lake­side home, the south and west il­lu­mi­na­tion of­fers a punch of bril­liance as the sun arcs right. Through any of the pan­els on dis­play, colours pop. Then, in the di­min­ish­ing light of an early win­ter day, as the sun sinks below the Cana­dian Shield hori­zon, first one and then more slices of cut glass seem to wink off, be­com­ing mys­te­ri­ous. "I use val­ues, com­pli­men­tary colour, and I try to grasp where light is go­ing to be com­ing from. It is al­most a ma­gi­cian’s trick to do what I do when match­ing and fit­ting." When asked why he does por­traits, Ha­dyn is typ­i­cally Ha­dyn: "I wanted to do them, as it was a ma­jor chal­lenge. There were no books on this tech­nique when I started. I cer­tainly do peo­ple rep­re­sent­ing the broad spec­trum of arts and sci­ences (a cus­tom in stained glass) and ex­plore and ex­press what has made them no­table, fa­mous, wor­thy. I see some­thing and it be­comes part of me. The idea of the im­age is em­bed­ded. Yes, 95% of what I do now are por­traits." For­tu­nately, there was a pos­si­bil­ity to in­ter­view some­one who has com­mis­sioned a work by Ha­dyn. At the home of Louise and Fritz

left, Whis­per­ers, stained glass, 26" x 42" above, Bliss, stained glass, 23" x 48"

Fran­cis Alys "Some­times Mak­ing Some­thing Leads To Noth­ing", stained glass, 46" x 25"

Help­ing Hand, stained glass, 24" x 44"

left, Ori­gin, About To Hap­pen & Debt, stained glass, 24" x 50" right, Soul Catcher, stained glass, 24" x 45"

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