For its opening foray onto Houston's art scene, new kid on the block Winston Contemporary Art wants to strike up a conversation or two, and it has done just that with the image-laden collage paintings of S.G. Starr in "New Paintings."
There's much to ponder in If It Walks & Talks Like a Duck, It is a Racist Shithole, with its lyrics borrowed from Disney's Song of the South, the bluebird on the shoulder turned into an inverted Twitter icon, the mindless parade of pale pink Republicans and the centerpiece poop emoji that looks frighteningly similar to the Imperial Wizard.
Artist David McGee, who is curating this inaugural exhibit, says that while most of Starr's compositions are best left open to interpretation by the viewer, there's no mistaking his homage to our country's highest ranking Tweeter.
"I think what Stephen [S.G.] is interested in is the popular culture that just bombards us with images. Those images can be interpreted and read in so many ways they can become abstract. That one is about Donald Trump," confirms McGee.
While there's nothing nuanced about Racist Shithole, McGee says the dozen or so other paintings and works on paper allow the viewer to interject his or her own personal experiences into the meaning.
"The way we look at images these days, there’s no such thing as didacticism. The layered response, cable television, Instagram, Facebook, 24 hour news, entertainment is what this work is about; these layers," says McGee. "Some of these works have to do with memory, total recall, childhood."
McGee says that Elvis in Vegas has so much symbolism — winning at gambling or racing, the strength to give up smoking and drinking, a Napoleonic complex when it comes to war — that the collage can best be described as being about mysticism, about American capitalism.
"He's playing with images that everybody has a reaction to," says McGee. "It can mean all of those things. I can imagine when one has gone to Vegas and seen all kinds of trickery and the trickster [rabbit] and all those things of what we think wealth is, that sense of surprise."
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Winston Contemporary Art is owned by personal trainer turned gallerist Kevin Christopher Winston Watson, and his goal is to create a non-intimidating space through the introduction of music, spoken word poetry and other collaborative media. In October the industrial-sound band Gray, cofounded by the late Jean-Michel Basquiat, is set to perform in the gallery. Future exhibitions will be from new or emerging contemporary artists, as well as works created within the past 100 years.
WCA's non-profit component, Art For Good, programs events designed to bring artists to the community, including introducing photography to children or having murals painted in parks.
There's a public opening reception from 7 to 9 p.m. on September 20.
"New Paintings" by S.G. Starr is scheduled for September 20-October 20, open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays, Winston Contemporary Art, 2426 Bartlett, Suite D, 832-380-4421, wcahouston.com or facebook.com/WCAgallery.