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Art Capsule Reviews

A picture of our opinions on local exhibitions

"Ariane Roesch" Ariane Roesch is still in school at the University of Houston, but she's managing to put out some really interesting work. In her show at DeSantos Gallery, Roesch reprints and manipulates vintage photographs -- both personal and found. She uses threads, yarn and wires to physically create connections between the images' elements, drawing lines of sight and hearing. In one, orderly lines of men in suits walk down a street. Slender threads stitched into the photograph run from their ears and trail down into the sewer grate. Their ears to the gutter, the men march onward. Roesch's wit is sly and her work subtly provocative. Through March 10 at DeSantos Gallery, 1724-A Richmond, 713-520-1200.

"Brooke Stroud: New Drawings" and "Michael Petry: In the Garden of Eden" There are two new exhibitions at Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery -- one is subtle, the other subtly subversive. Brooke Stroud's colored pencil drawings on gray cardboard have an Agnes Martin vibe to them. The cardboard looks like the kind of cheap stuff that backs a notepad, but Stroud makes it precious with careful horizontal lines of luminous color that cluster together and then spread out. Each piece is monochromatic, and the colors with more contrast work the best. In the main gallery, Michael Petry's "In the Garden of Eden" presents giant slabs of wood hanging from the ceiling, grouped like trees in a forest. They are cross-sections of various trees, with the bark edges intact. The trees -- lime, yew, chestnut -- are found in England, where the El Paso-born artist lives and works. With its beautiful, oiled surfaces, the wood has a low-key organic beauty, which is what the piece seems to be about -- until you notice the holes. A jar lid-size hole has been drilled into each plank. You could peer from one hole through to the others, but the holes aren't at eye height. The smooth, sanded and splinter-free openings are, ahem, at crotchheight...Suddenly, the exhibition's title takes on a whole new meaning. Through March 10. 4520 Blossom, 713-863-7097.

"FOTO, New Photography from Denmark" FotoFest's exhibition of 39 Danish photographers is a big, sprawling group show with work that runs from okay to good. With some of the smallest images in the show, Inger Lise Rasmussen's work is also some of the strongest. Rasmussen uses photogravure, a vintage technique that works like etching. Printed on heavy paper, it can register rich tonal ranges. The technique lends itself to moody and romantic images, but Rasmussen's work is so effective because she does just the opposite. She photographs crisp, modernist architecture; an escalator angles up to a glass box of an office building, or a suited figure walks up seemingly infinite steps. By finding dynamic compositions and then printing them with a technique that creates beautiful, matte, papery tones, Rasmussen has taken images that could read as somewhat banal and formal and imbued them with visual richness and emotional depth. Through March 10 at FotoFest Headquarters, 1113 Vine St., 713-223-5522.

"Similar Differences" Sheila Klein's fabric work and Kate Petley's sculptures are on view in this color-saturated exhibition at the Art League Houston. Sheila Klein uses synthetic materials in cheesy vintage hues that could have been appropriated from an old Lawrence Welk Show performance. To make Grecian (2006), she sewed vertical strips of diaphanous fabric together into a rectangle and hung it on the wall like a painting. There's a section of ruched peach nylon and a segment of frothy ruffled blue the color a Welk tuxedo. In the center is a risqué piece of sheer black, like a stocking with a garter line. Another panel of bouffant white netting might have been filched from a polka dancer's skirt. It's a wonderful exercise in color, kitsch and fabric. Also on view is Klein's installation Thin Place Threshold (2007), which consists of six colorful curtain panels, all hung on parallel tracks in the center of the room. Kate Petley's sculptures share the gallery with Klein's work, but unfortunately the proximity doesn't do either one of them any favors. Their "similar differences" -- color and architecture-ish sculpture -- just make the room look disjointed. And in spite of similarities, the works aren't similarly successful. Like Klein, Petley is also working with some interesting materials: resin, acrylic and sheets of polycarbonate. But where Klein just needs to ratchet up what she's already doing with the materials, Petley needs to figure out what to do with them at all. Through March 2. 1953 Montrose Blvd., 713-523-9530.

 
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