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2011 Lecture : Butch Hancock

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Butch Hancock

The College of Architecture, in conjunction with this year's lecture series titled Generative Sensing, is excited to welcome Butch Hancock to lecture to our community on Thursday, November 3rd at 7:00pm in the Chemistry Building, Room 049.

An iconic Lubbock musican, artist and founding member with Joe Ely and Jimmie Dale Gilmore of the legendary Flatlanders, Butch Hancock spent early years in the College of Architecture at Texas Tech University and returns to Texas Tech University to give a multi-sensory acoustical, word and performance based lecture highlighting space and the horizon.



Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011 from
7:00 - 8:30pm in the
Chemistry Building, Rm 049.
Free Parking after 5:30pm. Lot R08 is just North of the Chemistry Building & Lot R01 is West of the Chemistry Building


This will be followed on Friday by a one-night-only exhibition of Butch Hancock's amazing ball-point pen drawings of curved and curious architecture, hosted by Jeffrey Wheeler.

Video Presentation Butch_Hancock



"Dustbowls and Diamonds" by Butch Hancock
Friday, Nov. 4 from
6:00 - 9:00pm at
Farm 2 Market Arts
The Studio Projects / LHUCA, 1010 Mac Davis Lane #1


. . .
From The Dallas Morning News
May 29, 1994

The Image Maker
Singer-songwriter Butch Hancock puts some of his visions on films
By Brad Buchholz

"Somehow, I got stuck in a century where there's an incredible number of guitars and an incredible number of cameras floating around. A camera is something you can hang over your neck. A guitar is something you can sling over your shoulder. Man, I'm a happy camper." --Butch Hancock

Butch Hancock discovered art in 1968, when he dropped out of architecture school and spent the next 10 months driving a tractor in West Texas. From the start, Butch was struck by the elemental simplicity of his environment: the drone of the engine, the subtle contour of the land. Light, shadow, horizon, angle, reflection and texture became the essential elements of his day. In time, Butch Hancock discovered Tractor Zen.

"It was an amazing experience, a turning point in my life," says Butch. "I was outdoors every day, six days a week, maybe seven, doing earth-moving work with my dad, sunrise to sunset. I got really tuned in to the earth and the weather.

"I was reading all kinds of great books at the time - stuff that really opened up the metaphysical universe for me. So I'd read a little bit, sit on the tractor, and contemplate. It was a time that really turned me on."

Butch learned a lot from his seat on the tractor. Today, he's acknowledged by his peers as one of the premier Texas singer-songwriters - a laughing Lone Star Bob Dylan and a charter member of The Flatlanders, the old Lubbock band that featured Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Joe Ely. A master of metaphor and irony, Butch juxtaposes "circumstance" and "workin' pants" with a wink and a smile. His songs are daring, interconnecting circles of wit and insight. But music isn't the only thing that came to Butch Hancock on the tractor. The contemplation of light, texture and sky also spawned a second love: photography.

Although few music fans outside of Austin are aware of his work, Butch has assembled a provocative collection of black-and-white photographs - some of them always on display at his Austin gallery, Lubbock or Leave It. One never knows what to expect at the gallery: dramatic shots of American Indian cliff dwellings one month, outrageous European street scenes the next, surreal, still-life shots of single popcorn kernels after that.

"Photography is the thing I do when I'm really looking at something else," says Butch, who carries his Leica along whenever he takes his music on the road. Yet Butch's photography is serious business. A quick glance at his work reveals that he's studied the very best modern photographers - Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Elliott Erwitt - and spent a lot of time contemplating their artistry. His gallery prints have sold for as much as $1,000.

"My eyes are always busy," says Butch, who can frequently be spotted pedaling a bicycle through Austin's warehouse district, camera slung over his shoulder. `I'm looking for things that reveal to me that 'inner process.' You know, all the crazy stuff that goes on in human beings: from the robotlike nature of our behavior, to the crazed emotions, to the (expletive) intellect, to the peaceful moments, and to moments of conscious experience."

For Butch, that can take many forms. It's the sharp juxtaposition of a happy child flying a kite in a cemetery. It's the absurdly mundane sight of carpet rolls hanging out of the back of a truck. Butch the architect captures the nuance of light and shadow and form in still-life shots; the freewheeling stage performer shoots from the car window while speeding down the highway, seeking to capture a moment that could be lost forever in another split second.

"I keep looking for that thing I know I'm not going to see," he says. "But what I do see is the thing that's in the way. Or the thing that's a reflection." Butch is fascinated by the elusive, intangible aspects of photography, even when artists successfully compose images of conflict or drama. There's always something deeper.

"I think that's the magic of music, too," he says. "You're listening to something that is not really there. What you hear, or what you see, is like a lens to look through. You listen to a thing that can't be listened to directly. You hear a thing that can't be heard directly."

The mixture of music and photography seems perfectly natural to Butch; Ansel Adams, after all, spent years training to be a pianist before experimenting with nature photography in Yosemite National Park. As a writer, Butch is adept at turning a provocative phrase -`I know what nothing's all about. Ain't that something?" - and the gift for irony serves him well when he picks up a camera.

"Somebody told me years ago that if you want to understand something, go study something else - and I believe that's true. The more I understand architecture, for example, the more I understand songwriting. It all has to do with the 'correspondence' - the idea that you can take principles in one area and apply them to others."
. . .


The Flatlanders - Website
Wikipedia Entry - Butch Hancock
Interview - Virtual Lubbock

Back to 2011-2012 Lecture Series