Featured Artist of the Week: Lily Butter

1) Tell us a bit about you- what kind of art do you usually make or what us your artist background?

My name is Lily Butter and I’ m notorious for my portraits and drawings documenting the lives of gutter-punks, transgendered party girls, and assorted art school ‘drop-out trash’. My art is designy and comic booky. I’ve been shown in galleries all over North America. Once in a blue moon I actually sell something.




2) What was the inspiration behind your mural? Was it inspired by any other artists or artists work or a key moment in LGBTQ history in Toronto?

A small portion of the mural Lily Butter is set to produce adjacent to 66 Wellesley Street East

A small portion of the mural Lily Butter is set to produce adjacent to 66 Wellesley Street East

I was picked for the mural when I impressed the selection committee with BloedGracht, my 11 foot wide tableau of Amsterdam Window Girls…I was excited for the chance to do an even bigger tableau and one for the village that thousands of people will see every day.

So eager was I for the chance to do a 90 foot wide tableau that I promised to do portraits of “the 50 most important party people of gay toronto nightlife”.  The portraits would be set all together in a Night club made of bits and pieces of night clubs near the village from the past 64 years. The people I selected for Portraits are also chosen from the past 64 years.  I populated my Hybrid Timetraveling Ultra Nightclub the same way a real life night club makes a party; I picked a few important big names, asked them for their fave picks, then I gathered up a delicious collection of sexy ones and weird ones, have a few show-offs and a few alpha types and a few obscure gorgeousnesses.

The project involved a long spring of adventure, research, time travel, and detective social networking. I got to hang out with several queens who created a big scene in the 70s and look at the photo albums of Michelle Du Barry, Sacha MacKenzie, and Michael Fancy Thibert.

3) What do you bring to this work – are there parts of the LGBTQ content that is inspired by, or comes out of, your own background/identity?

I consider this Mural and the research project an anthropology of my own contemporary scene. As a regular gallery artist, most of my works are portraits of the party girls, queens, dancers, and performers I see every week.

I set out to trace the origins of this scene and traced it back through Goodhandies’ championing the decriminalisation of sex work and bawdyhouse laws, back through egg and ink attacks and queens fighting in the street every weekend in the 70s, all the way back to the ultra sleeziness at  $3 a room Warwick hotel  with 200 pound muscle Queen Miss  Brandy Lamar belting out tunes over a live band in 1949.

Lily Butter’s website can be found here.

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BannerCSMPThe Church Street Mural Project is a community initiative to beautify the Church-Wellesley Village, at the same time as reaffirming its identity as Canada’s premier LGBTQQ2S neighbourhood. This project has brought together dozens of artists, local property owners, and nearly one hundred community leaders for multiple consultations.


The end result: 11 gallery-quality large-scale highly visible murals will be painted this year on Church Street, between Monteith Steet and McGill Street.

Work will start before August 1 and will be completed for October 30, 2013.


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