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.
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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.
"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.