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Project Row Houses brings the sculpture garden indoors with its current installations

Walk into Houstonian Ruck's aptly titled Tree House, and your first thought is "How the hell did he manage that?" The encaustic-coated trunk of a tree starts upright near the front windows and then makes a neat, impossible right angle, filling the space. The striking organic lines of the tree create a three-dimensional drawing against the spare white interior of the house. The tree is transformed by the brownish wax coating, which makes it more objectlike (and hides the numerous joints required to reassemble the tree inside the house). Ducking in and around the branches visually and physically alters the viewer's experience of the space.

Houstonian Topchy's Oh-Ho, Ah-Ha is a strange, melancholic dreamworld. His house still includes all of the original dividing walls, complete with their patina of age. An aura of the previous inhabitants suffuses the installation as you see how the tiny shotgun house was once divided. Topchy has tapped into this feeling and, in a back room, has painted the ghostly figure of a man. A glass eyeball is embedded into the wall and peers out from his forehead. It looks like the old tenants have disappeared into the very walls. In the front room, wavy funhouse Plexiglas mirrors line a closet-size space. Four pairs of shoes stand at the entrance: White high-heeled sandals and black lace-up dress shoes bracket two pairs of tiny children's shoes. It looks like the family has stepped out of them and into another dimension -- Mom, Dad and the kids through the looking glass. The shoes wait patiently for their return.

Hanging by a thread: Visitors attach names of those people they would like to "save."
Deron Neblett
Hanging by a thread: Visitors attach names of those people they would like to "save."


is on view through September at Project Row Houses, 2500 Holman,

One of the strengths of the PRH installations is that each artist's work is contained within its own house. Edwards's work is presented in a more conventional gallery sense, but some of the strongest installations are derived from the artists' interaction with or alteration to the houses. Such is the case with Kelley, Ruck, Kim and Topchy. The separate houses give the viewer a complete sense of the artists' sensibilities. It's like strolling through each one's subconscious.

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