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"Rebecca Ward / Jason Rogenes / Dan Steinhilber"

Finesilver hosts three gallery-specific installations

In his CAMH show, Steinhilber made a sculpture by stacking a bunch of clear plastic fast food containers. He's using fast food cast-offs again at Finesilver, this time with plastic condiment packets densely packed into multicolored spirals inside trashcan lids. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work; it just feels facile and not well thought out. The pieces are fairly small-scale, which is not a problem in itself, but to really achieve transcendence with this kind of material, he needs a lot more of it and to work on a more epic scale. They feel dinky and make you wonder if he was trying to knock out something small and saleable.

Other individual works include a skewed swing/ladder hybrid hanging from the ceiling that is uninteresting and doesn't seem to have much to do with anything else and a fluorescent light tube shattered on the floor that really doesn't seem to have anything to do with anything else. Apparently Steinhilber had a studio in an old school with tons of burned-out fluorescent lightbulbs and spent a lot of time investigating ways to smash them. If you "buy" the piece, you get instructions on how to smash your own light bulb. Steinhilber always seems to be working with some fragment of an idea that could be great, but he never seems to fully or sufficiently realize it. It's like he keeps stopping after Step 2.

Showing three site-specific installations is pretty ambitious for a commercial gallery in terms of time, not to mention the fact that installations are notoriously difficult to sell. It's nice to see a for-profit enterprise support work that isn't easily saleable and present the kinds of things that usually only get shown in nonprofit venues.

Jason Rogenes makes amazing, otherworldly assemblages out of Styrofoam.
Courtesy of Finesilver Gallery
Jason Rogenes makes amazing, otherworldly assemblages out of Styrofoam.
Rebecca Ward transforms red electrical tape into something extraordinary.
Courtesy of Finesilver Gallery
Rebecca Ward transforms red electrical tape into something extraordinary.

Details

"Rebecca Ward / Jason Rogenes / Dan Steinhilber"

Through October 6

"Suzanne Bloom, Ed Hill and Manual: WAR and PEACE and QUIET"

Through October 13

"Rebecca Ward / Jason Rogenes / Dan Steinhilber"

Finesilver Gallery, 3913 Main, 713-524-3733

"Suzanne Bloom, Ed Hill and Manual: WAR and PEACE and QUIET"

Moody Gallery, 2815 Colquitt, 713-526-9911.

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Manual Labor

Suzanne Bloom, Ed Hill and their collaborative entity Manual are some bleeding heart liberals. Thank God. In their current show, "Suzanne Bloom, Ed Hill and Manual: WAR and PEACE and QUIET," the husband-and-wife duo address the issue of war, separately and together. Hill, who long ago authored a drawing book but has worked almost exclusively with digital technology, has returned to his roots; he's showing a series of drawings. Wounded Soldier, Iraq (2007) is especially strong; the figure of a prone man with a head wound is viewed from the angle of the feet. Faint grid lines on the paper allude to the mechanics of drawing a foreshortened figure. The figure is drawn in charcoal, but the face, partially obscured by a bandage, and its flesh and blood — literally — is rendered in gouache. The emotional power of the subject is delicately balanced by the clinical act of ­drawing.

In Graphic Music, Suzanne Bloom is showing some fascinating and really groundbreaking new work with a social and political punch. Animated digital images are linked to sounds, musical and otherwise. Her images — text, figures and objects — are comprised of a series of marks and dots, each acting like a musical note. Images of guns, skulls, a dancer and the words "Have a Nice Day" scroll across the screen of a monitor. The marks trigger sounds when they hit a line of demarcation on the screen. Bloom's compositions include everything from toad mating calls to the marimba to the sounds of gunfire. The images, ideas, words and audio all unite into a pretty amazing ­gesamtkunstwerk.

In the central room of the gallery, Hill and Bloom, working as Manual, show some of their greatest hits. Images from their epic Videology series (1983-84) are presented. In photographs shot from video, televangelist Jimmy Swaggart rails, the American flag is illuminated, an atomic bomb explodes and a glass of milk is spilt. More than 20 years later, it's still sadly relevant.

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