Wouldn't You Like to Know Me?

What do Paul Stanley and Winston Churchill have in common? (Love for the ladies?) No. Well, yes. Actually, both of them are painters. But while Churchill painted voluptuous nudes engaged in carnal gymnastics (that’s a total fabrication) Stanley opts for abstract works inspired in part by his love for Kandinsky, Klee and Rothko. Yes, really. And seeing as how his recent minor heart incident is not enough to keep a Rock God off the road, Stanley comes to St. Louis Friday and Saturday (August 17 and 18; 6 to 9 p.m. both evenings) for an exhibition of his paintings at the Wentworth Gallery at Westfield Shoppingtown-West County (I-270 and Manchester Road, Des Peres; 314-821-8884 or www.wentworthgallery.com). In honor of the occasion, Stanley graciously agreed to talk art, philosophy and art criticism. After studying art at New York City’s High School of Music and Art – “I went in for fine arts, but I’m one of the few who probably holds the distinction of failing art. Which says volumes about my problems with authority figures,” Stanley notes, he opted for a career in music rather than art (that seemed to work out fairly well for him). But seven years ago, he turned to painting for solace. “I was going through some turmoil, and one of my best friends said, ‘You need to paint.’ And I’d never really painted. But for whatever reason, that really resonated with me,” Stanley explains. “And for me it was very much a journey into . . . getting to know another side of myself. I was never interested in the idea of making a table and chairs look like a table and chairs, and I was never interested in depicting reality literally. I was more interested in almost a stream of consciousness using color and texture instead of using words. It was more about emotions, trying to convey emotions and things that were going on.” Since he’s picked up the brush, Stanley’s had “eight or ten” solo exhibitions, and he harbors no illusions about how his fame has worked in his favor. “No doubt, my success and who I am gets my foot in the door, but it doesn’t stop anyone from slamming the door. I certainly get an advantage in getting my work seen, but that doesn’t mean anybody’s going to want it. Because somebody likes your songs doesn’t mean they’re going to feel obligated to acquire your art. At the end of the day, money changing hands kinda says all, you know?” Speaking of exchanging cash for paintings, everything in the show is for sale. But Stanley would like to remind all KISS fans that this is “Not a memorabilia signing. I’m happy that you have CDs, t-shirts, tour books and photos, but they won’t be signed there. This is an art gallery, and it’s the wrong place and the wrong time. But if you wind up seeing a piece of art that you like and you acquire, then we’ll get to spend some time together. I have a champagne reception for all the people who pre-buy a piece.” For details on buying a piece, give the gallery a call, or check out the Web site. And as for Stanley coming back to St. Louis with the rest of KISS, he’s hopefully enigmatic. “I don’t know if Santa’s gonna come early this year, but we’ll see. We’ll see.”
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