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On the Road: Mural painter Josh Butts

Posted at 1:18 PM, Nov 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-23 23:16:30-05

It's painting, on a much wider scale.

And no blank wall is off-limits when Josh Butts is around.

Butts says he came to Tulsa for the first time just to visit family and art kind of grew around him.

"I probably have more spray paint than most stores do," Butts said. "I just go nuts with it."

But when Butts goes nuts with it, beautiful, colorful things happen.

"It is maybe the most human of things that we do," Butts said. "It is a form of communication, it's a way to express an idea. It evokes an emotive response."

Today, Josh is creating a mural in Tulsa's Cathedral District.

Surrounded by crosses in all directions, his goal when he began drawing it out was to evoke Michelangelo's work on the Sistine Chapel's ceiling.

"This visual of God reaching out to humanity and humanity reaching back," Butts said.

As he always does, he'd begun the night before, the darkness pierced by an illumination of his sketch on the old brick wall.

You've seen his work all around town.

Along Route 66. In the Arts District. In downtown Sand Springs.

And the huge celebration of Sand Springs on an old silo of the Monarch Cement Company.

The one thing they all have in common is a celebration of color and vibrancy.

"I like to use vibrant color and I use it in a kind of unconventional way," Butts said.

Painting is a lonely pursuit.

Except when your canvas is huge and so public.

"People stop me all the time and either honk or talk to me about what their passions are," Butts said.

"I almost feel in a lot of ways, the less you think about painting while you're doing it, the better the painting," Butts said.

He works surprisingly quickly - and then he's onto the next place -the next empty wall - or the next canvas of bricks and mortar.

"If something is hand-done and it takes a second to create it and love, and time and care is put into it, people see the soul in that," Butts said.

Josh has his own ad agency.

He's also an adjunct art professor at the University of Tulsa.

He's got a website, as well, which you check out here.


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