by Sayaka Matsuoka
Snickers and giggles slipped from viewers as they read the titles of Kat Lamp’s paintings during her exhibition opening in the gallery portion of the Ember Gallery in the downtown Winston-Salem Arts District.
Quips like “Groovy Panda Bass Magic” and “You wouldn’t know this by looking at them, but Woofie and Sally are totally dancing to some weird-ass dubstep s***” identified Lamp’s equally hilarious paintings of pastel animals both real and imaginary, clouds, vegetables and random body parts. Wood panels and old records served as canvases for all of Lamp’s works, fitting the theme of the ’‘60s- and ’‘70s-styled space lined with high-quality speakers and boutique audio equipment.
The show, titled Hello, Magic City, is the first solo exhibit that Lamp has put on in 10 years, opening on June 5 to coincide with the monthly First Friday Gallery Hop. A native of Winston-Salem, Lamp moved back to the city after living in Greensboro from 2005 to 2014.
“It’s good to be back,” said Lamp, who was dressed in an equally quirky green blouse patterned with tiny deer, a silver skirt and red platform sandals. “I’m relieved to be working at home again.”
Youthful themes mixed with adult humor characterize her style, which draws inspiration from storybooks. Many of the paintings include starry unicorn farts.
“I try to make myself laugh,” Lamp said. “My studio used to be a funeral home and that’s inspired some of my works.”
Electric Pyramid studio is a few blocks east and is home to about a dozen working artists.
Lamp’s work includes a painting of haunted Jello-O and an equally haunted cup of coffee.
Some pieces involve dancing animals paired with ridiculous titles like, “You wouldn’t know this by looking at them, but Woofie and Sally are totally dancing to some weird-ass dubstep s***.”
While her titles may be purposefully crude, her style appeals to a broad audience. She’s even designed posters for the Avett Brothers.
The crowd that had gathered in the small electronics shop and gallery included adults looking for something unique to adorn their walls as well as younger kids who had straggled in with their parents.
One painting of a pretty hip bee with sunglasses titled “Beezus” — which alludes to Kanye West’s self-proclaimed album “Yeezus” — had already sold within the first half hour of the exhibition. By the end of the first hour, Lamp had sold nine of her paintings.
One however, was not for sale.
“It’s of my dog Cracker and my cat Minime,” Lamp said. “Cracker died recently and the painting depicts what Mini-me is thinking of; it’s therapeutic for me.”
The round painting shows an orange tabby dressed in a white shirt and navy jeans high-fiving a black dog, also sporting a white shirt and red pants.
The success of the show excited Lamp and helped her look forward to her future shows at Camino Bakery a few blocks away on West Fourth Street and another in the Fiction Kitchen in Raleigh.
She even has a favorite title from her show.
“The title that makes me laugh the most is, ‘Look at Those F***ing Carrots Being all Healthy and S***. Just Look at Them.’” Lamp said. “I like how it works in an obvious way but I like how it works metaphorically as well. I can’t help but marvel at how healthy and fit some people are when I see them out jogging, and I can’t help but look at them. And then I feel creepy.”
Kat Lamp’s art show Hello, Magic City will be on display through June 27 at the Ember Gallery (W-S).