There is a great little photograph of Sammy Davis Jr. up at McClain Gallery now. It is pop perfection -- the musician is decked out in a red vest and shoes, his arms out to his sides and his left foot kicked up in a freeze-frame dance pose. The fact that the image, by celebrity photog Milton H. Greene, is included in a show about the use of gold in contemporary art, with nary any gold in sight, may be a bit perplexing at first. But as this exhibition shows, "golden" can be as much a use of color as a mood or feeling.
That's the approach at hand in "A Golden Time of Day," a group show of McClain favorites that features a delightful mix of artists and mediums as it explores the golden in art. It appropriately starts with a piece by Houston artist Tierney Malone that inspired the name of the exhibition. Golden Time of Day is, curiously, a mostly red piece -- a blood-red board with the text "golden time of day" written across it in a gold, upper-case stencil that gives it an almost reverent feel, the properness of this font contrasting with the rugged, imperfect quality of the board.
The more stunningly gold pieces come later, including two by Christian Eckart. Detail Painting #538 is what can be described as gold on gold -- a square, textured panel of gold paint that's displayed in a gold frame. Hanging directly across from it in the main gallery is Andachtsbild #712, a massive, sculptural work of wood and gold leaf that looks like a decorative wall panel ripped out of time and space from a Baroque mansion. The name, "Andachtsbild," suggests a devotional context to this gold beauty.
Other stand-out pieces in this pleasantly diverse show include Jonathan Seliger's humorous Golden Pavilion -- a stack of gold-plated bronze in the shape of those mass-produced, disposable Chinese take-out boxes; Amber Essays by Jenny Holzer, a ridiculously thin electronic LED sign with scrolling, blinking gold text; and, at the very end, Karin Broker's heart on hold -- an intricate wired mess of vintage gold and pink rhinestone jewelry in the shape of a heart that's encased in a glass box. For a self-professed lighthearted show, it's a surprisingly -- but nonetheless refreshingly -- melancholic way to leave us.
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"A Golden Time of Day" runs at McClain Gallery, 2242 Richmond, now through August 18. For more information, call 713-520-9988 or visit www.mcclaingallery.com.