September 18, 2008

By Jonathan Williams

HEíS BEST KNOWN AS A SINGER-GUITARIST for legendary hard rock band Kiss, so many people own a piece of Paul Stanley in the form of records, comic books, action figures and numerous other merchandising endeavors. Now an accomplished painter, Stanley offers fans a different sort of collectible. His works range from colorfully abstract circles and smears to pieces inspired by pop and folk artists like Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Howard Finster. As he comes to Atlanta this weekend for art openings at both local Wentworth Gallery locations, Stanley took a moment to discuss his work:

Youíve stated that you began painting to overcome the emotional hardships of going through a divorce. Now that youíre through that period, what does the process do for you now?

I think that got played up quite a bit, but the fact is my background was originally an art background. It could have been at any point that I felt a desire to express myself in some way other than music.

Where did you draw inspiration for the works that will be in this show?

I just paint from my gut. Most of the time, I find a lot of satisfaction in not planning what Iím going to paint. Obviously, there are pieces that are more thought out in terms of theme, though once I start painting, I just let myself go where Iím going to go. I think if you donít wake up every day inspired, you need to go back to sleep or change your life.

Your stage persona has always had a visual flair. How would you say your creative energies have translated from stage to canvas? Have they progressed since youíve gotten back into painting?

The work is all connected by my love of color, but how I utilize that seems to go through significant changes because Iím not going to put limitations or boundaries on myself. Thatís why I started painting, because I donít have to work to anybody elseís expectations, only to mine. So I paint for myself. That other people love the work is a bonus.

As a rock star, youíve attained a seemingly untouchable status. How close will fans be able to get to you at these openings?

Because of the crowds, thereís really no way for me to spend one-on-one time with everybody who is there. The only way there is any real time to be spent individually is with people who are acquiring art. I get some great time with [buyers], and we get to take a photo and I give a personal message to them. Other than the art collectors, thereís a large segment of people who perhaps have never been in a gallery before, and I think thatís great.

THE 411: Paul Stanley at Wentworth Gallery. Free. 6-9 p.m. Sept. 19. Wentworth Gallery, Phipps Plaza. 3500 Peachtree Road N.E., Buckhead. 404-233-0903. And 5-8 p.m. Sept. 20. Wentworth Gallery, Perimeter Mall. 4400 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. 770-913-0641 or 800-732-6140.