Rockin The Butler

By John Stran

The Butler Art Museum opened its “Medieval to Metal” exhibition on Jan. 22. It previews the evolution of the guitar and some predecessors that influenced it.

Live music performed by Steve Vuich set the background. People of all ages were taking in the instruments and getting a chuckle out of one piece, a case that held the world famous air guitar.

Wendy Swick, public relations manager and curator for the event, said that she expected a high turnout for the event.  She knew that many people had passion and interest in the guitar.

“The guitar is extremely recognizable,” Swick said. “There’s about 3 million acoustic and electric guitars made every year, which is more than any other instrument so I knew this would bring in people.”

It also brought out the people that she’d expected.

“The event attracted, and will attract, parents, children and all different types of musicians. It’s something that will definitely interest everybody,” Swick said.

One of the attendees, Leah Smith heard about the event from her mother, and after looking through the exhibit was impressed. Smith said there was more to it than she expected.

Harvey Newquist, executive director of The National Guitar Museum, has set up guitar-related exhibits at more than 20 museums. He said that each museum is completely different.

“We’ve been to science centers, regional history museums and art museums,” Newquist said. “They all present different challenges in arrangement, design and layout, but we’ve been pleased with everyone.”

Newquist said he really enjoys the curiosity of the people as they examine the guitars and the different styles.

Relatives of the guitar also made appearances at the exhibition, such as the lute, the guitarron and the vihuela.

The more modern guitars at the exhibition included the more recognizable Flying V, and the Ibanez Jem 7 — most notably played by guitarist Steve Vai.

Newquist said that this exhibit took about two days to set up. The space they used in The Butler is not a permanent resting place for this or any exhibition. The space normally holds events more for an art seeker.

While at The Butler, “Medieval to Metal” will host other musicians such as an Elvis impersonator with exact replicas of his costume and guitar.

Rock Star University, or Rock U, will also stop by. Rock U is a project, set up by Hubbard Music, which gives children the chance to perform live as a band.

The exhibit packs it all up on Apr. 16, and heads to the Saginaw Art Museum in Michigan. It looks to open there sometime in December.

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