Kiss Frontman Paul Stanley Is Taking Brush To Canvas


July 11, 2008

Angie Fenton of The Courier Journal reports that Paul Stanley has a deal with himself.

“I don’t bring guitars into my painting studio, and I don’t bring paintbrushes on stage,” he said in a recent phone interview. “You have to be able to close one door when you open another.”

Obviously, the KISS frontman still rocks all night — three and a half decades after his glam metal band formed. In fact, they’ve been tearing it up on the European leg of the KISS Alive/35 World Tour.

“(It’s) the most successful tour ever… Our fans now more than ever realize in a world of boring bands, there’s only one KISS,” said Stanley, who speaks softly, carefully considering his words.

“I’ve always fought to make sure that KISS was everything it can be and should be. The day it falls short of that or I fall short of that, I’ll stay home,” he said.

Not that he doesn’t stay close to his California residence, where he lives with his second wife, Erin Sutton, whom he wed in 2005, and their son, who’ll turn 2 this fall.

“We have no greater responsibility than to guide our children. That’s why I’m home most of the time,” he said. “My philosophy, particularly with my children, is they don’t have a voice to vote. … If they did, their voice would be, ‘Dad, stay home.’ “

Still, Stanley doesn’t plan to cease performing any time soon. His band’s longevity in an often-fickle industry has been relatively easy, he said, because, “When we do go out, we commit ourselves to being everything that people expect.

“When you’ve been a band of this stature for over 35 years, you not only have to live up to the reality of what you did in the past but what people think you did in the past,” he added, chuckling softly.

Now, the 56-year-old rocker is living a new reality as an artist who sold more than $2 million in artwork last year.

“What’s fascinating … is that I’m developing in front of everybody. My success has come so quickly in that I’m evolving, in a manner of speaking, in the public eye,” he said.

Stanley graduated from New York City High School of Music and Art as a teen. He began painting after going through a particularly rough divorce from his first wife, Pamela Bowen, with whom he has a 14-year-old son.

“I turned (to painting) as a means of self-expression,” he said. “I think the idea that, as with music, it shows for me if you do something to please yourself, nine out of 10 times it’ll please someone else.”

Stanley’s first painting was a self-portrait.

“I guess I was on the right path when people knew it was me,” he said.

His work has evolved from “a kind of stream-of-consciousness using color and texture instead of words” to exploration with “limitless color. I never paint with an idea of knowing what to paint. I want it to, in a sense, come from almost purging. At this point, it’s still very much coming from a kind of visceral, emotional place. … There’s no rules as far as this is concerned.”

Stanley’s art retails for $1,500 to $50,000. It’s available for purchase from Wentworth Gallery, a fine art chain that sells works from relative unknowns as well as renowned masters, such as Chagall, Dali and Picasso.

“This is a journey that I’m enjoying immensely. A lot of people who are getting a lot out of it — the people at the galleries, the people who acquire the art — have a very quick and deep connection to the pieces, which I think is great,” he said.

But Stanley’s art isn’t just for aficionados. He’s aiming for people who simply like what they see.

“I think the saddest situation is when people don’t get to experience something because they’ve been told their opinions don’t count because they’re not educated. What possible validity is there in trying to appreciate food or art that someone else likes if you don’t like it?”

Bandmate Gene Simmons liked what he saw in Stanley’s rendition of the Statue of Liberty, a painting that now hangs in Simmons’ home.

“A great icon. The Statue of Liberty — not Gene, although he would beg to differ,” Stanley said. “This truly is the land of opportunity, and I can attest to what’s possible here.”

Kiss Frontman Paul Stanley Is Taking Brush To Canvas

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