Duke Windsor,
Duke Windsor, "Mt. San Miguel," acrylic and gold leaf, 86.25 x 50.25 in.

Duke Windsor’s success as a contemporary artist lies in his ability to infuse ordinary subject matter with his own ingenuity. Known for his predisposition to paint the crowded alleys of North Park, burgers dripping with grease, or trash cans put out to the curb, Windsor treats each with the reverence of a beloved relic. To commemorate 30 years as a professional working artist in San Diego, this series, titled “Reflections” at Sparks Gallery, focuses on the city’s streets.

Windsor’s works are on view at Sparks Gallery through April 30th, 2024 with an opening reception on Sunday, April 14.

Duke Windsor, "Golden Sunrise Alley," acrylic and gold leaf, 72 x 50 in.
Duke Windsor, “Golden Sunrise Alley,” acrylic and gold leaf, 72 x 50 in.

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Each painting is gilded with lustrous gold leaf, a technique inspired by that used for old Russian icons. By delivering a kind of sacred designation to these secular, worldly scenes in his art, Windsor implores the viewer to rethink what is deemed as valuable and treasured in our everyday environment.

“The exhibition ‘Reflections’ is a unique exploration of the liminal space between urban landscapes and spiritual introspection,” Windsor said. “Through large-scale acrylic paintings, I invite viewers to delve into the transformative power of art in ordinary alleys. The gold leaf skies in these paintings symbolize a deep spiritual reverence within the solitude of the depicted spaces, offering a unique perspective on the familiar. This exhibit features several contemporary cityscapes and the work on display was created using acrylic, and imitation gold leaf.

“The artworks in this exhibition are a testament to the transformative power of light. As you move around the pieces, the illumination shifts, revealing new perspectives and changing the dynamics of the work. With meticulous attention to detail and thoughtful composition, I have captured the essence of overlooked alleys, turning them into portals of contemplation and tranquility. The golden skies that dominate these canvases serve as a metaphor for the divine presence that infuses even the most mundane corners of our world, urging us to pause, reflect, and find beauty in the everyday.”

Duke Windsor, "Howard Avenue (North Park Tower)," acrylic and gold leaf, 24 x 48 in.
Duke Windsor, “Howard Avenue (North Park Tower),” acrylic and gold leaf, 24 x 48 in.

Why gold leaf? “Gold is the color of extravagance, wealth, riches, and excess and shares several of the same attributes as yellow,” Windsor continued. “Gold is a warm color that can be bright, cheerful, somber, and traditional. Its cousin, yellow, and the color brown is also associated with illumination, love, compassion, courage, passion, magic, and wisdom. In Art, the Golden Mean or Golden Ratio is the theory that the natural world has perfect symmetry by divine design. Gold is a spiritual reverence held for ancient gods in worship. The Golden Rule in the Old Testament refers to the high standards of treating everyone equally. Gold is a symbol of divinity and is mentioned throughout the Bible. Pagan idols were often made from gold, and the Ark of the Covenant was overlaid with gold (Exodus 25:10-17). The gift of gold to the Christ child symbolized His divinity—God in the flesh.

“In ‘Reflections’, I hope to transcend mere representation, encouraging viewers to experience a sense of awe and wonder in the familiar. Imbuing my paintings with a spiritual depth challenges us to look beyond the surface of things and discover the hidden beauty within the ordinary and the unassuming. I consider the sacred in the seemingly profane to seek solace and inspiration in the most unexpected of places. My Art serves as a poignant reminder of the interconnectedness of all things and the potential for transcendence in the humblest of surroundings. With each brushstroke, I invite you to embark on a journey of introspection and discovery, where the urban alley becomes a gateway to the divine, and the mundane becomes a source of wonder and reflection.”

Artist Duke Windsor
Artist Duke Windsor

About the Artist:

Duke Windsor was born in Texarkana, Texas, and served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a radio operator, combat illustrator, and drill instructor. After leaving the service, Windsor was a freelance illustrator and amateur rodeo cowboy, competing in bull-riding, bareback and steer wrestling events. He subsequently studied classical voice at San Diego State University and performed professionally with the San Diego Opera Chorus. Windsor holds the rank of 4th Degree Black Belt in Kempo martial arts, and he continues to be an active singer-songwriter, guitar player, and solo performer.

Windsor has over 15 years of museum exhibition design and installation experience; he has worked for the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego Museum of Man, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego History Center, and Mingei International Museum. Windsor served for seven years as founding Director of Exhibits at the USS Midway Museum. Currently, Windsor is CAD Design Engineering Manager at Full Swing Golf Simulators, headquartered in Carlsbad, California.

Windsor is an Associate Artist of the California Art Club, and a former board member with A.R.T.S., A Reason to Survive, which empowers troubled youth through the arts. He is also former Education Chair of the San Diego Museum of Art Artist Guild. Windsor has also served as a member of the Public Arts Selection Committee for the San Diego Regional Airport Authority Art Program.

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