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Capsule Art Reviews: "Damaged Romanticism," "Juan Andres Videla: The Unsaid Word," "Liz Ward: Crazy Weather," "RADAR EYES," "A Time for Change"

"Damaged Romanticism" "Damaged Romanticism" features the work of 15 internationally recognized artists. There's some compelling work on display. Italian artist Angelo Filomeno's silk embroidered panels are incredibly intricate. The ornate images, stitched into gold silk lamé, depict nature, but with a subversively comic tone. In Arcanum: Rolling Shit, a green beetle probes a coiled-up turd. Berlinde De Bruyckere, from Belgium, exhibits her two mixed-media pieces, which feature abstract, stuffed forms that could resemble excrement as well. A series of large chromogenic prints by Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky document a ship-breaking yard in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The photos are immediately epic and baroque, apocalyptic and, yes, romantic in subject matter — ships at sea. It's worth spending the 30 minutes it takes to watch Jesper Just's two films screening in an upstairs gallery. The Danish filmmaker creates sumptuous short films, usually based around a male protagonist who is followed by a male chorus. This show is well worth seeing. Through November 15. Blaffer Gallery, 4800 Calhoun, 713-743-9530. — TS

"Juan Andres Videla: The Unsaid Word" Argentine artist Juan Andres Videla presents old-school oil paintings on canvas in "The Unsaid Word" at New Gallery. The artist's soft focus, moody urban scenes and barren institutional interiors are unpeopled. Night dominates the work, with a dog, his eyes glowing in the dark, as one of the few signs of life. The paintings have a film-noir quality, but they somehow feel more warm than ominous. Two small drawings on Formica are especially nice. The images of wet, bleak streets are quietly melancholy. It's a large but slightly uneven show; there are almost 30 works on view, and some weaker pieces could have been edited out for a tighter exhibition. This isn't the kind of show that turns the art world on its head, but the work is satisfying. It's refreshing to see a traditional approach to painting that doesn't feel traditional. Through November 29. 2627 Colquitt, 713-520-7053. — KK

"Liz Ward: Crazy Weather" Liz Ward makes lovely, delicate watercolors informed by the unlovely subject of environmental degradation. In her artist's statement, Ward cites the Pacific Gyre, the giant floating island of plastic crap created by a vortex of ocean currents, as one of her influences. The most successful works in the show are based on the irregular shapes and radiating rings of aquatic dead zones. With its fragile lines and translucent colors, a quiet thoughtfulness pervades the work. It's as if Ward is sitting at the planet's bedside, contemplating it as it slowly fades away. Through November 22. Moody Gallery, 2815 Colquitt, 713-526-9911. — KK

"RADAR EYES" Quebecois collective Seripop has assembled a wild show of contemporary Canadian printmakers, exploring the spectrum from commercial silk-screeners to avant-garde artists. Depicting musical acts that have come through Montreal, including Pere Ubu and Houston's own mysterious Jandek, these art posters are the result of technical and layered silk-screen processes by local artists – it's psychedelia with a damaged worldview, a postmodern interpretation of pop. Artist Gunsho contributes series of grotesque characters — beautifully printed imaginary demons — with a superb line quality and enviably adroit registration. Le Dernier Cri's cartoon prints of sexually perverse mutants push the envelope of good taste (the ArtCar Museum has sequestered some of the crazier works in a darkened room, accompanied by vintage Jimi Hendrix films). Lizz Hickey's amazingly detailed cityscape is a special treat, with tiny dry-point etchings of fingers, toes and faces building up into a metropolis. Seripop's own silk-screen contributions are loose, expressionist scenes that dance on the distinction between painting and mass media, like their forebears in the German modernist collective Die Brücke. In the museum's galleries full of offbeat art cars, the works jump off the wall dramatically. Those bizarre Canucks. Through November 9. 140 Heights Blvd, 713-861-5526. — SC

"A Time for Change" PaperCity fine arts editor Catherine D. Anspon curated this group show, which shifts in tone from works that embody states of flux to a more positive, euphoric status. Thankfully, Anspon resists commenting too much on the current presidential race, even though the exhibition's most prominent piece employs a candidate's likeness. The changing face of China is represented in Re-Tool, daniel-kayne's readymade-ish, red "8-ton long ram jack," which supports three gigantic wrenches stamped CHINA. Tracy Hicks evokes environmental fever with Forearm Study, a mixed-media piece incorporating glass, rubber frogs and thermometers. Nathaniel Donnett's Return Of Tha Gangsta Ego depicts the shadow of a child raised in a world of crime, nicely rendered in foam core, a little pair of tennis shoes and a gumball machine filled with multicolored bullets. And damn if that Shepard Fairey Barack Obama image won't go away. Here though, in an interesting twist, Anthony Thompson Shumate co-opts the image for his video animation I am BLUE 'cause I am RED over you, xoxoxo, in which Obama's face robotically recites a Marxist manifesto. I'm glad I don't know Shumate's politics, because I love the ambiguous nature of the work. It represents the hope and fear and trepidation of the moment. Through November 4, Deborah Colton Gallery, 2445 North Blvd. 713-869-5151. Free. — TS

 
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