buZ blurr - COR - Gypsy Sphinx 03

    STRAAT Gallery buZ blurr - COR - Gypsy Sphinx 03



    Russell Butler, also known as buZ blurr, began marking boxcars with his first character on November 11, 1971. This character was inspired by the figure of one of his coworkers who was tolerant of his cartoons. Butler’s first character, known as “Gypsy Sphinx,” was given a proper send-off a year later, and then he started a new character, “Colossus of Roads,” in 1979.

    The drawings were dated and included a caption composed of three or four words of no apparent meaning. In reality, they helped Butler recall events in his life better than dates alone. The repeated use of cryptic captions would become one of his distinguishing features as a boxcar artist and a tradition carried on by many other artists following his footsteps.

    Gypsy Sphinx , was derived from the character’s features: “gypsy” denoting his nomadic nature from constantly roaming on trains, and “sphinx” indicating his enigmatic manner of speaking in cryptic sentences. This name caught on and remained associated with the character since its inception, marking an important phase in buZ blurr’s evolution as a boxcar artist.

    His moniker, “Colossus of Roads”, is a simple line drawing profile of a trainman wearing a cowboy hat, with each drawing featuring an original caption. According to Butler, he called his railroad markings “boxcar icon dispatches” and described himself as “a life artist documenting a non-art life employing mass media for the distribution of this documentation.” 

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