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PORTRAITS OF BUTCH MORRIS


Special by THE NEW TIMES HOLLER!
A report conducted by the Bureau of Innovative Conductions
Amir Bey, 2012
October 13
I did a life cast of Butch Morris (Life, Strength, Health!) in 1983 and later a series of casts from it that date through 2006.

I first met the musician, composer, and conductor in late 1973 when he visited the KPFA-FM studios in Berkeley. His late brother bassist Wilber "Pootch" Morris was playing in an ensemble that was probably led by alto saxophonist Otis Harris. The way that Butch was examining the mics and layout of the band caught my eye. He seemed to have an ethereal curiosity as he moved around the room.

I knew Pootch from Grove Street College ("The People's College") two years before. Around that time he asked me to make a piece for the him and the artist Mari Morris, when they were about to get married. That was my first commissioned piece, a stone carving of two figures that you could roll around in your hands.

Butch also attended Grove Street, and as I got to know Butch more, I recognized that the "Ethereal Curiosity" was part of a perspective that was a mobile, elevated orientation that wasn't hemmed in by conventional ideas. He would often pose questions that would challenge presuppositions about music, art, and people, that while serious, had a touch of humor. That characteristic continues in his present work and conversations.

In '74 he did a series of concerts with David Murray, The David Murray/Butch Morris Quartet, around the San Fransisco Bay Area, and one of those concerts I produced at KPFA-FM's Souls of Black Folk, "Produced for you by Aunt Gemima's Children."

BUTCH IN CONDUCTION MODE


Vision Festival XIV, 2009, New York City
photo (c) Amir Bey, 2009
ORIGINAL LIFE CAST OF LAWRENCE "BUTCH" MORRIS
           

Life Cast, Butch Morris, casting compound, (c) Amir Bey, 1983
                     

Profile of cast (c) Amir Bey, 1983

FROM THE CAR 2619 ON THE D TRAIN SERIES


This is from my Car 2619 On The D Train series, 48 images of people on New York City's D Train that was exhibited at Bronx Museum of the Arts in 1989.
All of those pieces featured a cast mounted on a ceramic "seat."
(c) Amir Bey, 1989

FROM THE 12 x 12 SERIES

Butch Blu is from a series of 10 pieces that were 12" X 12". Plaster cast, acrylic, glass beads, mirror-eyes. Butch often performs at Nu Blu in New York City.
(c) Amir Bey, 2006

INDIVIDUAL CASTS
           

Ceramic, copper background added later
(c) Amir Bey, 1988
                     

Casting compound, glass
(c) Amir Bey, 1983

           

Plaster
(c) Amir Bey, 1988
                     

Casting compound, plaster
(c) Amir Bey, 1983

TRUMPET PLAYING DAYS B.C. ~ BEFORE CONDUCTION


Detail from a flier for the David Murray/Butch Morris Quartet, circa 1974. For this concert the profile of Butch playing trumpet was posted en masse on the street around the San Fransisco Bay Area, creating a geometric pattern; note the price: $2.00!
From the collection of Amir Bey

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