August 14, 2008

By DAN PEARSON Contributor

Paul Stanley, the legendary guitarist, vocalist and lyricist for KISS does more than rock and rock all night and party every day. He also paints.

Stanley will make a special appearance 7-9 p.m. Aug. 22 and 5-8 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Wentworth Gallery in Schaumburg where the gallery will be devoted to an exhibition of some of his colorful artistic creations on canvas.

Some have commented that the model for Stanley's 'Mona Lisa' is none other than the artist himself.

Mona Lisa 'Very possibly,' said Stanley, 56, in a recent phone interview from his home in California. 'It is certainly not conscious, but the painter is in all his works. Van Gogh said at one point to his brother, 'I am no longer content to be the artist, I want to be the paint.' I guess, at some point, we want to be as much a part of our work as possible.'

Stanley, the driving force behind such KISS anthems as 'Love Gun,' 'Detroit Rock City' and 'Forever,' said that his attraction to creating art surfaced early in his life.

'I actually went to the High School of Music and Art in New York, the sister school of the High School Of Performing Arts that the movie 'Fame' was based on,' he said. 'It was the same format. You had to audition and take tests and show your work. The best 300 kids in the city would get in there and get all their academics plus and one and a half hours of art a day.'

Stanley admitted he had the dubious distinction of getting a failing grade in art from this prestigious institution.

'The problem with me was that I am not the most cooperative with authority figures. I always loved art but I just didn't like the idea of doing it according to anybody else's schedule or anybody else's criteria, which is basically the same as I am with music and everything else I do.'

Outside of designing some album covers and creating the KISS logo, Stanley pretty much shelved his interest in art until about eight years ago when a friend suggested he take up painting.

'I was going through some tough times and that resonated with me and it very quickly felt like the right way to reconnect with my love for art,' he said. 'I got some paints and some canvasses without a clue of what I was going to do and went on a journey without a map. And so far I had not only liked every place that I have gone, but so has every one else.'

Stanley began exhibiting his work in public in 2005.

'I had hung a piece in my house. I didn't even sign it because I was too self-conscious. Invariably people would come over and ask who did the painting and then they wanted to know where they could get something similar. So I knew that in connecting with myself emotionally I was also making that connection with others.'

That piece was entitled 'Green Planet' and it hangs on his wall at home still unsigned as a reminder of where he started.

Stanley's work started appearing in the Wentworth Galleries a little over a year ago.

Art for all 'I am a big believer that art is for everyone. When someone says to me, I love this piece but I don't anything about art, I am also reminded of people who say I love that song but I don't know anything about music.

'What do you need to know about art or music to like it? I would like to think that not only does my art bring in collectors, it also brings in people who perhaps have never been in a gallery. I am the first to say, if you live in a van or a villa, your environment will look better with art.'

Stanley bristles a bit when asked if it matters if his art is being sold because of his celebrity or if the buyer felt the art speaks to them.

'Of course, they will be people who come because of who I am. But I can kind of doubt that someone will spend a considerable amount of money because they like the way I sing 'Love God,'' he said. 'There is nothing wrong with using your fame or recognition to perhaps jump ahead and have a certain advantages over others because ultimately you are still going to have to stand on the merits of what you do.'

On Saturday there will be a special VIP reception at the gallery with the artist starting at 4 p.m. for those who have purchased pieces in advance.

'I certainly make it a point to come out and wave and say hi and welcome people into the gallery. But realistically, the only people I can spend time with are the ones that are actually taking something home with them,' he said. 'Although everyone has a special CD, photograph, T-shirt, hat, that they would like to have signed, this is the wrong place for that. I try to be fair upfront and say this is an art gallery. It is not a rock concert, but you will have fun.'

7-9 p.m. Aug. 22 and 5-8 p.m. Aug. 23 at Wentworth Gallery, 5 Woodfield Shopping Center, Schaumburg. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. The free show is open to the public. (847) 995-1190, .