|Christopher Winslow at his art opening at Magnet, the Castro’s cultural and medical center. Photo by Rink.
Throughout July, Magnet – the Castro hub of health and well being for gay and bi men – will display the art of Christopher Winslow, entitled “Games People Play.” The artist explained, “Games bring communities together. They induce laughter and play. They remind us of the ‘child’ within and give permission to express ourselves in non-conventional ways.” The sculpture pieces in “Games People Play” capture the fanciful play that happens when people engage in games. The paintings are not direct representations of actual games but rather a meshing of ideas from the games of our past, Winslow said. “My intent is to remind viewers that laughter can often be the best medicine.” Winslow is a multi-media artist and musician. He teaches music at Peres Elementary school in Richmond and sings bass with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. He continues to compose music for the theater and is an Artist in Residence at ODC Theater. He said he wants to create more sculpture but requires a blowtorch. He is also leaning towards mobiles. “I’m drawn to color and shape,” he added.
“My pieces just make me smile,” he told me. “This really is about living and laughing.” His inspiration comes from young kids he teaches at school. He elaborated, “There is a certain wonderful naïveté and beauty that goes with seeing kids when they’re innocent and playing, and I try to capture that.” He said a lot of his works are from his childhood memories as well. “I want people who view my art to come away smiling,” he said.
When asked his philosophy on life, he said, “Live each day like it was your last,” which is perfectly illustrated by the last piece near the door on Magnet’s wall, “To Do List.” Originally it was a humongously huge blank, lined tablet page with space for people to use the provided color pens to add their personal lists of things to do on their last day on earth. The list is “held” to the wall by a gigantic red papier mache push pin. “It’s a reminder to make good choices instead of doing things you don’t want to do,” he said. Check out what viewers wrote and add your own. My favorite was: “Have sex for one last time, so I could cum and go at the same time!”
Going left to right on the wall, the first piece, “Twister,” is layered acrylic on canvas. It is an abstract of the game where viewers can put their imaginary hands and feet on the squares to get all twisted up. We decided it was Naked Twister with cock rings. “CrossWord Puzzle (Sun, Moon, Stars)” is collage on paper. It is taken from a Chinese textbook. “I asked myself, ‘How would you do a crossword with all Chinese characters?’” he said. “Slinky” is an abstract sculpture of the famous wire looped-ring toy. It needs proper lighting (as seen on Magnet’s wall) to reflect the shadow properly – even overlapping the frame onto the wall. The yellow background is for fun and games in the sunshine.
“Charades” is a painting from a private collection and not for sale. “It’s really about the multi layers pressed up against the canvas,” Winslow said. “If you look at the shapes, what do you see? Are they telling you something?” he asked. He instructed me to look carefully around the edges and hidden areas to see penises and balls. “I couldn’t call it ‘Penis and Balls, now could I? So I named it ‘Charades,’ after the age-old parlor game,” he said. “It was how we might act with the world in our own charade.” He paused to say, “Now that you’ve made me think, I might rename it ‘Kaleidoscope.’”
The four little acrylic paintings are composed by first bending wire into shapes and then putting that onto wood to be traced. The wires were originally left on the piece, and he might just add then back at some point. I confessed that the painting with the brown face I had spied through a window in passing was Mr. Potato Head. “Now after your comment, I have to rename it,” he said. “I called him ‘Bobby,’ but your title is better.” He said perhaps in the future he would let people do the naming for themselves. “Maxine” has just won a game of Yahtzee; Johnny “Pick Me” shows a young boy anxious to get picked for a sports game. We don’t know if he is gay, “but he does have a man purse,” Winslow pointed out, adding, “I forgot to put Dolce and Gabanna on it.” It’s up to the viewers to decide what a picture brings out for them. “I want people to have an interaction with the art; they can think they were someone like that or they know someone like that,” he said. “Chloe” is saying, “Ready or Not, Here I Come” in a lively game of hide and seek.
“Bing-Bong,” mixed media on canvas, is a clever combination of Bingo and Ping Pong, easily seen by the numbers, letters, and net full of colored balls.
ou can see the mobile fetish coming out of Winslow with the flying airplane and balls hanging above. “Pete the Prankster” is a freestanding found phone from the ‘40s and ink on paper. This is reminiscent of every child who has ever called a stranger, pretending to take a phone survey and asking: “Is your refrigerator running?” and when they answer in the affirmative, snapping, “Well, you better go catch it!” and quickly hanging up with gales of laughter. He said one day he would like to have the piece with audio installed so people could pick the prank. “You can really envision that devilish kid. Just look at that eye and that crooked smile,” he said. “The kid is saying, ‘I am being so naughty.’”
You too can be naughty or nice in reliving your childhood memories with Winslow’s whimsical art at Magnet on 18th & Castro Streets.