I attended the opening of Kansas painter William Counter’s exhibition last Friday night at City Arts. The show is entitled “Red Stripe” and is an explosive exhibition. The show beckons the viewer through the front door with great color and message.
Counter is a 55-year-old graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute. He uses mass media objects like magazines, LP covers, and paperback books as inspiration for his paintings, such as a Time Magazine cover featuring a hand holding a smoking gun, rendered in Lichtenstein style, with a headline that reads “The Gun In America.” The painting is rendered over collaged ads that are suggestive, such as the camera ad that reads: “Meet The Sharper Shooter.” The painting also features the back page, which depicts a cigarette ad, itself a smoking gun if you will.
Many of the roughly 60 paintings feature hidden messages. The style, for lack of a better word, is Pop Art. It’s big. It’s loud and formidable. It’s expertly executed and unbelievably painterly. All this, coupled with the hidden messages, means that William Counter has created the pop art that pop art always wanted to be. You may wander in with the intention of staying for a moment, but you will find yourself captured and unable to break away. Such is the power of this wonderful exhibition.
See William Counter’s exhibition at City Arts through February 17th.