SARATOGA SPRINGS – Spring Street Gallery is hosting an exhibit featuring artwork, film screenings and discussions all focused on the topic of guns. “The Gun Show” will have its opening reception on Saturday, April 9 from 5 to 7 p.m.
The artists in “The Gun Show” use guns as a focal point for their work, and some even incorporate guns into the creation of the pieces. One of these artists is Samson Contompasis, who used a double-barrel shotgun to shoot at paint cans with a canvas set up behind them, inspired by the art of Beat author William S. Burroughs. The result is a modern, spontaneous splatter painting that radiates energy and celebrates entropy.
“In lieu of being able to afford actual guns, I decided to paint them instead,” said Contompasis good-humoredly. “Firearms are something I grew up around. My uncle took me out to shoot my first gun when I was seven. It was a .22 pistol. After that, I had to know everything about them.”
Contompasis began painting guns about 10 years ago. He was doing a lot of cityscapes, when he realized he was bored and needed a new creative spark. He finally decided to paint what he loved: weaponry. After that he followed his passion, resulting in work that is anything but predictable. He adds intense neon colors and metallic spray paint to bring a level of “absurdity” into his work, making deadly weapons look as playful as squirt guns.
Other artists involved in the show include Michael Oatman, who will be presenting a 10-foot-high “gun case” in the form of a ladder. Rabbi Linda Motzkin’s drawings and Hebrew scripture on parchment that she hand-made from deerskin provided by Adirondack hunters will be on display, as well as artist Michael Millspaugh who will be presenting his series of quirky, hand-carved gun-toting figurines.
“I think this show is extraordinary,” said Contompasis. “The historical versus artistic information people will be able to gather from this show comes from multiple viewpoints and experiences, a little bit of everything.”
Community groups and historians will also be part of the exhibit. A public art piece created by members of the Presbyterian-New England Congregational Church will serve as a remembrance of 2015’s 355 mass shooting incidents across the country. Arms historian Charles Wheeler will be presenting ornate, antique firearms dating back from the 1740s through the 1880s, and will also be hosting a workshop and discussion of historic firearms on Saturday, April 16.
Furthermore, “The Gun Show” includes film screenings and discussions on the subject of guns, including “Bowling for Columbine” on April 12, “Peace Officer” on April 19, and “Armor of Light” on May 3.
While the exhibits will share viewpoints about guns, the show is not driven by political agendas and seeks to include everyone, not just gun enthusiasts.
“The media might have us believe that ‘pro-gun’ and ‘anti-gun’ people are at irreconcilable odds in this country,” said Maureen Sager, Executive Director at Spring Street Gallery, in a press release. “But these divides do not seem to exist in the artists and people we’ve met while organizing this show. There are so many nuances – as well as deeply felt personal perspective and responsibility – being presented here. We hope that these artists and groups will inspire new thought, understanding and conversations throughout the region.”
“The Gun Show” will be on display at Spring Street Gallery until May 28. For more information about “The Gun Show” and Spring Street Gallery, located at 110 and 112 Spring Street, visit springstreetgallerysaratoga.org.