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Capsule Reviews

A picture of our opinions on local exhibitions

"David Fulton: New Work" David Fulton snakes loose fluid lines of watery acrylic over black and gray grounds. They build up and overlap, creating dense networks. The paint is whitest and densest at the edges of Fulton's forms. The resulting works look like electron micrographs of intricate cellular structures. Fulton's work isn't about making self-expressive marks; the lines of his paintings are based on tracings of coastlines. In his "Lake" series, Fulton overlays his lines, contributing to their unique organic meanderings. It's an interesting strategy and not dissimilar from his previous sculptural work, which had its own map-centric conceptual conceits. With its delicate layering, painting like this is a one-shot deal. You can't go back -- you'd just have to start over -- and consequently, some of the works come off better than others. In Lakes (Gray) 1 (2004), the chalky lines over a dull gray ground create a calm intricacy. In the diptych of Lakes (Large/White) 1 and 2 (2004), the second works better; something about the way the lines come together in the first seems a little awkward. Meanwhile, White Border 2 (2004) has lost its way and just become too opaquely layered to be interesting. Through February 5 at New Gallery, 2627 Colquitt, 713-520-7053.

"Home and Garden" Organized by FotoFest as a part of its series of Inter-Biennial art programs, this show is full of strange takes on domesticity. There are works that are unsettling and funny and beautiful -- sometimes all at once. Curated with Jennifer Ward, the show features eight emerging Texas artists. Among the most promising is Marc Montoya, who scavenges vintage and frequently kitsch-infused 35-millimeter color slides from garage and estate sales, honing in on odd images the original photographer was seemingly oblivious to. In American Jihad I (2003), a teenage boy poses in big dorky headphones attached to a radio/walkie-talkie thingie. And in Blast Off the 4H Way (2003), a small boy on a 1960s parade float stands next to a huge red slightly flaccid, pretty darn phallic rocket. Another participating artist, Julie Ross, has a predilection for seeking American oddity that's similar to Montoya's. She shoots her subjects with a Polaroid camera and then pairs images together. In Untitled (Kitten for Sale)(2001), Ross juxtaposes an image of a JonBenet Ramsey-esque little girl with a shot of a prize-winning fluffy kitten. Other artists include Stephanie Martz, who tears pages from copies of House Beautiful from the '60s and inserts images from John Carpenter's Halloween into their interiors; Anderson Wrangle, who stages his own eerie scenes in affluent, upper-middle-class settings; and Michelle Grinstead, who pushes the domestic space toward the surreal, rather than the ominous, by projecting landscape vistas in banal household environments. This is a provocative, successful, sprawling show. FotoFest's headquarters make a good space, but with less of it, the organizers would have been forced to edit, which would've been a good thing. Through February 28. 1113 Vine, 713-223-5522, ext. 19.

"Kenneth James Beasley" Kenneth James Beasley's paintings look like the daydreams of a monomaniacal rag picker. They brim with brightly colored piles of cloth, their shapes flatly painted in solid colors but graphically outlined in black. They have a comic book feeling. Beasley executes them on watercolor paper with everything from house paint to acrylic to spray enamel, but he wields it all with crisp precision. His materials accumulate at the bottom of the page or float in amorphous masses in the center. Landfill with Green Sky is the seven-foot-long standout of the show. Mounds of cheery colored rags dominate the page, contrasted with a sickly green sky. There is something beautifully Houston about the image. Beasley also translates his forms into three dimensions with chunks of fiberboard carved into flowing forms. Their sleek glossy shapes hang on the wall and wrap around corners, but they're a letdown in comparison to the paintings. They feel too dinky. What Beasley really needs to do is make a ton of them. If he could bring the overwhelming masses of his paintings into three dimensions, that would be amazing. Imagine how cool a whole room of this stuff could be. Through February 15 at Rudolph Projects/ArtScan Gallery, 1836 Richmond, 713-807-1836.

"Lynne Woods Turner: Exquisite Drawings" These drawings are truly exquisite. Turner uses gouache and pencil to create works so delicate they look like stains. There aren't really any actual lines because their edges are ever-so-slightly modeled. You imagine these faint patterns of precise curving lines and grids of overlapping circles and lozenges could have been transferred from a book or piece of paper set atop them for years. Perhaps the original designs were just faded by the sun? How else could they appear so ephemeral? It is that very elusiveness that makes you peer at them all the harder. Turner has an incredibly subtle but engaging aesthetic. She executes these small-scale works on perfectly square pieces of paper; it is a static format that works well with her fragile and beautifully controlled patterns. Through February 17 at Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery, 4520 Blossom, 713-863-7097.

"Melanie Crader: Just in Time for Spring" "Just in Time for Spring" is a perfect title for Melanie Crader's new show. Crader takes colors and details from fashion and transforms them into paintings and sculpture. The fashion she draws from isn't edgy, contemporary stuff but the iconic, ladylike styles of the '50s and early '60s. Think scallop-edge slips, Doris Day suits with dyed-to-match pumps and coordinating handbags and hats. Crader also pulls vintage-perfect ad copy phrases for her titles. For You've made it; You deserve it, Crader sandwiches together multicolored pieces of wood with scalloped edging; a detail from lingerie or a summer sundress is extracted and abstracted. Who can resistis a silver painting whose lower right corner has been "lifted." It looks as if it's revealing a strip of pale blue lining and the white of a nylon slip. Other works like You're so specialuse panels covered with sections of wood that look like layers of crinoline. They're painted in toning shades of yellow, pink, green and blue -- just like a collection of spring coordinates. Crader is presenting some fresh and witty work. Through February 26 at Gallery Sonja Roesch, 2309 Caroline, 713-659-5424.

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