"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 North 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

"Machines, Buildings and Books" Austin-based artist Lance Letscher utilizes bookbindings, old ledgers and journals, and miscellaneous paper ephemera to create both abstract collages and representational imagery, much of it exuding an innocent, childlike perspective. How to Lay an Egg, for example, employs two large, thick books (spines back to back) over which Letscher has arranged both circular and rectangular strips from covers of children's Little Golden Books. The colorful designs resemble Tinkertoy contraptions. Shards of light cardboard from album covers seem to decorate more adult-like works (also created with enormous books) like Two-Part Biography and Intermediate Design. The former is decorated in a vertical rectangular pattern, while the latter incorporates intricate, circular pie shapes. Little Twombly-esque doodles inhabit works like Giant Robot, while scraps of coloring books occupy realistic renderings, as in Blue Staircase. Railroad tracks are a recurring motif, as in Roundhouse, which also includes smokestacks spewing abstract conglomerations of blue and brown smoke. The seemingly antique quality of the materials, coupled with fleeting allusions to Germany, gives some works a feeling of childlike obliviousness to evil. Through November 29. McMurtrey Gallery, 3508 Lake, 713-523-8238. — TS

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