All in a Row

Every house has a story, but Project Row Houses has installations

Ultimately, however, the piece feels like it's in conceptual transition. Curtis seems to be moving more toward figurative sculpture and away from the Barbie spoof. She needs to either ratchet up the consumer satire and push the issue of real woman versus the Barbie caricature, or go the other direction and pursue a clinical post-Duane Hanson kind of naturalism.

Casting architectural fragments like death masks, Darryl Lauster creates haunting objects out of his fascination with the products of craftsmen. A small stack of sandblasted acrylic resin bricks sits at the base of the row house chimney. A beautifully worked resin heating grate rests on the rough wood floor, giving the house an amenity that it never had. Within the house, Lauster has built a partial framework for a house out of translucent acrylic panels. A frosty resin shutter leans against a wall under a window outside the plastic structure. The shutter has a handmade, tactile surface, but the wall is flat and manufactured.

There's a material disjunction between the cast resin objects and the manufactured house components. Lauster is trying to continue the translucent aesthetic of the resin in the mock-up house, but this stuff feels too shiny and new, like it's better suited to a trade show display. The construction elements would have been really great had they been cast in resin and sandblasted -- but alas, that's too obsessive even for Lauster.

Smith asks visitors to contribute their own scar stories 
to his installation.
Dolan Smith
Smith asks visitors to contribute their own scar stories to his installation.


Through September 30; 713-526-7662
Project Row Houses, 2500 Holman

To put the installation into context, Lauster is known for building furniture and crafting decorative objects according to photos and measurements from museum collections, re-creating them only to cast them. More of his work is on view at Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery. The standout is a sandblasted resin trestle table, originally crafted in the 1890s. Icy and solid, it is a tremendously tactile object. The furniture's power is such that Hiram Butler has acquired two of Lauster's tables, prompting gallery partner Devin Borden to admonish, "Hiram, you're a dealer, not a user." Lauster is really on to something with this work. But while the objects are compelling on their own, site-specific display, like at Project Row Houses, holds a wealth of new potential.

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