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Art Capsule Reviews

A picture of our opinions on local exhibitions

"Carlos Cruz-Diez" Sicardi Gallery presents an exhibition of work by the 83-year-old veteran of optically kinetic art. Carlos Cruz-Diez's low-tech optically kinetic work is made with thin stripes of color, painted or silk-screened, separated by slender strips of Plexiglas to conceal and reveal shifting colors as the viewer moves past them. Sicardi, as well as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, have shown examples of this work before, but the current exhibition reveals some of the octogenarian's other retinal forays. Transchromie (1965) hangs in the entryway to the gallery. It's a pretty amazing piece created with simple components. Long, slender planks of thin Plexiglas are hung on end from the ceiling in rows and lines. The translucent colors -- red, yellow, gray, orange and blue -- blend and create stripes of shifting color as the viewer moves around the piece. It's a seemingly simple idea, but the effect is phenomenal. Environment Chromointerérent, an installation from 1975 re-created in 2007, is pretty great too. Three projectors send video with a series of moving lines into a room. The video covers the walls and runs over white cubes, a sphere and a hanging cylinder in the room. The lines warp as they move over the geometric volumes -- and the viewer. With his new work, he's embracing today's technology but still using the same principles of the '75 installation. It's great to see Cruz-Diez's optical inventiveness adapt itself to new media. Through May 12. 2246 Richmond, 713-529-1313.

"Transformation 5: Contemporary Works in Found Materials" Whether it's the transformation of utilitarian objects into sculpture or fabric scraps into a quilt, the allure of "found" art lies in seeing a new value, perspective or form emerge from the ordinary, the banal. "Transformation 5" is a juried exhibition of 30 artists who competed for the prestigious Elizabeth R. Raphael Founders Prize, which recognizes excellence in the field of contemporary craft. The show includes decorative pieces, like Sharon McCartney's series of fabric collages, which overlap mostly green and gray tones and feel very countrified with their recurring bird imagery and lacy edges. There's also wonderful kitsch, like two "robot" sculptures: Toby A. Fraley's Feather Flite Robot and Linda and Opie O'Brien's The Emperor's Scribe. Fraley's is the more space-age one, with its jet-pack and halogen-light head and body made from discarded vacuum pieces. The O'Briens equip their (explicitly male) robot with an open-door torso filled with bric-a-brac: an old aspirin tin, printing blocks, tinker toys and pencils. The abstract pieces on display represent the best of the exhibit, because they demonstrate how fully and mysteriously these everyday objects can be manipulated. Amy Lipshie's Tomb, a strange, four-foot-tall sculpture resembling a foot, was made with woven strips of cereal boxes, beads, nylon thread and varnish. Rainbow-colored, it changes with the spectrum as one circles it. Most audacious is Parable by Jerry Bleem. The stretched and twisted hollow form has been covered in art magazine ads and then encased in staples from top to bottom. The outside emits a metallic gleam while the inside sparkles like quartz crystals. Through June 17 at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, 4848 Main, 713-529-4848.

"Vincent Falsetta: New Works" Vince Falsetta's paintings at Anya Tish Gallery look like they were done on a Motel 6 vibrating bed. They're filled with tiny, wavering, multicolored strokes of paint that create optically reverberating lines of color. Falsetta creates them by -- get this -- painstakingly painting the end of his brush with tiny strokes of different color. With little shaking movements Falsetta bobs the brush across a couple inches of canvas until the color runs out and then repeats the process, over and over and over again. It's a technique that is both anal and obsessive-compulsive, and the effect is pretty cool. In a couple of the paintings, the line compositions don't hold up as well as they should, but CP 06-02 is the standout. It makes you feel like the whole room is vibrating. Through May 19. Anya Tish Gallery, 4411 Montrose, 713-524-2299.

 
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