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Capsule Art Reviews: Bryan Wheeler: The Souls of Texans Are In Jeopardy In Ways Not Common To Other Men, "Casual Encounters", Round 30: Home. Space. Place.

Bryan Wheeler: The Souls of Texans Are In Jeopardy In Ways Not Common To Other Men These nine works by Bryan Wheeler, the younger of the Wheeler Brothers who curate the annual "Ulterior Motifs" show in Lubbock, display the lexicon of motifs that folks instantly recognize as the Texan's signature: vast Western landscapes peppered with fast-food joints, swimming pools, diving jetliners, fish and cheesecake T&A. They're the surreal fever dreams of a sexually aroused art student unleashed in the realm of Salvador Dalí and armed with a box of crayons and stencils stolen from Jasper Johns. Wheeler uses fields of acrylic stripes to juxtapose his network of images and text, giving the mixed-media works a trippy optical effect that bolsters the surreal content, like a pop-cultural bric-a-brac cabinet viewed under the influence of psychedelics. G Gallery says these are brand-new works, though some, I swear, are about five years old. Wheeler's work is engaging, funny and strangely troubling, but I wish he'd work with a new inspirational palette — or at least start eating at new restaurants. Whether it's Sonic, Arby's or McDonald's, it's beginning to taste like the same old buns and meat. Through May 25. 301 E 11th St., 713-869-4770. — TS

"Casual Encounters" Named after the infamous Craigslist category, this show explores the dangerous, ugly and surreal world that exists just on the other side of that risky line one crosses when placing or answering such an ad. From Derek Albeck's flawless graphite portraits of hapless, stoned fools to Will Boone's large-scale Xerox prints of actual dead bodies, there's a creepy, desperate cautionary tale being played out in Domy Books's little gallery. Patrick Griffin's documentary photographs capture street scenes of graffiti and altered signage in which the urban environment appears to display its abused soul. French contributes a series of prints depicting iconography in the medieval/heavy-metal vein, the kind of content that might attract one's wildest dream/worst nightmare casual encounter on Craigslist. Local street artist Give Up had a hand in putting this show together. His darkly haunting, nihilistic imagery is here, too, but I still wish he'd contribute something more substantial to gallery shows instead of the same posters you see on the street. Maybe I should just give up. Through June 6. 1709 Westheimer, 713-523-3669. — TS

Round 30: Home. Space. Place. The latest installations at Project Row Houses focus on the idea of home and its significance to cultural identity. Some explore the Third Ward neighborhood literally, such as Gregory Michael Carter's Walk with me..., which contains a glassed-in convenience store window outfitted with an old cash register, tobacco advertisements and a tongue-in-cheek Xerox sheet of famous African-American mugshots. The window is juxtaposed against a turbulent room of maze-like patterns on the walls, English fox-hunt wallpaper and various ephemera. Lance Flowers uses his Project Row Houses turn to display his urban-iconography-inspired artwork and supplements the installation with a coat of bright orange paint, photographs and a foreboding pile of junk TVs littered with unopened bottles of cheap "champagne" — an ironic comment on the class status of urban art. Other standouts include Lisa Qualls's Spirit Level, an elegant work that divides the room with clotheslines. From them hang white garments printed with portraits of their assumed wearers. And Rashida Ferdinand's Lullaby breaks the Greenwood King house into separate spaces of color, image, text and texture that convey memories of the artist's grandmothers. Ferdinand inexplicably leaves one space blank. Perhaps it's to imply the emptiness of loss or the solace of knowing one's way home. Through June 21. 2521 Holman, 713-526-7662. — TS

 
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