Must See Art: The Smoking Series By Michael Houghton

Primarily known as a designer of custom clothing for Rock Stars, Michael Houghton has taken his love of All Things Rock into the fine art world with a series of works on canvas known simply as “The Smoking Series.” Featuring large scale canvases (36” x 36”) adorned with appropriated, iconic images of Rock legends such as Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, you’ll notice that each has one thing in common: a smoldering cigarette. Whether perched between pouting lips or dangling from fingertips, everybody’s got one. The texture of each canvas suggests a layering technique, and Houghton explained to me that he uses a method similar to that used in hanging wallpaper: where he will apply paste to the image first so that it can be stretched across the canvas. Once the image is dry he can add surface adornments such as colorful paint and glitter accents. The finished images very much capture the spirit of Rock that seemed to die at the end the ’70s. A moment of silence please.

One of my favorites is an purple-glitter covered image of the late Steve Marriott of Humble Pie and The Small Faces who, coincidentally, died in a home fire caused by a cigarette. Sometimes, life’s lessons are tough ones.

Houghton seems to move The Smoking Series from venue to venue depending on which space offers his collection a home (recently it was on exhibit at Bread) and right now you can see it at the corner storefront space at 19 Kenmare Street, between Elizabeth and Bowery. This is definitely a “Pop Up” gallery situation and Michael admitted that while he hopes to get another week in the space, realistically the show will possibly be at this location only until Wednesday May 11th, so stop by while you can!

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