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David Butler, Artist at Artists & Models

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It’s 1984, the first Macintosh computer has hit the market, MTV has become one of the most popular networks on cable television, and you’re on your way to a bizarre new dance party called Artists and Models.

You walk into a strange abandon warehouse packed with eccentric characters and pay your $15 as you enter. You grab a beer and suddenly four girls wearing prom dresses and spinning glow in the dark hoola hoops walk by. You turn around and there is a life size cuckoo clock enclosed in a cage. The bell tolls and eight people circle through each door. “OK” you say to yourself, “maybe I’ve had one too many beers.” As you set your drink down on the closest table, a strange man wearing glasses and a white lab coat hands you a pamphlet for a new prescription drug called Resurrecta.

“Taken on a regular basis Resurrecta helps you avoid the worst part of life, the end!” he says. You read the pamphlet; it says, “Side effects include sudden loss of appendages, an intense craving for human flesh, uncontrollable floating and premature decomposition.”

“Um” you say, but before you can respond another man gesturing wildly and giving you the thumbs up shouts “Don’t trust this man! Trust ME, I’m running for president!” He hands you a flier with his face on it.

It’s at that moment that you realize you’re surround by crazy people, or at the very least actors pretending to be crazy people. These are some examples of instillations that have appeared in past incarnations of Artists and Models.

David Butler as the MC in the Central Terminal at the 2008 Artists & Models party.

In fact, all of theses examples were performed by one artist and his troop of actors. His name is David Butler and he has participated in nearly every Artists and Models event, more than any other artist in Buffalo.

“The Buffalo News called me the ‘Mac Daddy’ of Artists and Models,” he said, smiling and sitting in front of a pile of props and fake pamphlets he’s created over the years. Butler, first started performing in Artists and Models shortly after he graduated from Buffalo State College in 1984. He said his performances tend to include some sort of satirical humor and almost always involve the audience.

Each year Hallwalls chooses a different theme for the event. Artists design their instillations based on the theme. This year’s theme is “Stimulus.”

“I think it’s one of the more brilliant themes,” Butler said. “There are so many different directions artists can go with it. The most obvious being the stimulus package.”

But that is not the perspective Butler has chosen to go with. He is concentrating more on the idea of over stimulation, particularly by television and fast food.

This year Butler and his troop will be donning jumpsuits and removing “hazardous waste” from the building.

“I’m thinking we’re going to be spending time dissecting things like Big Macs and Ho Hos, then putting them aside to be taken away safely, out of harms way,” Butler said.

This year’s party, a fundraiser held by Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center almost every year for the last 26 years, will be held Saturday (May 1) at the Rock Harbor Yard at 57 Tonawanda St. Buffalo. Tickets are $15 advance/students, $20 at the door.

cory perla