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Capsule Art Reviews: "Dana Frankfort: Pictures," "Jonathan Marshall — Doubled Vision," "Ron Hoover — A Retrospective: 1972-2006," "Wishing Well for Houston"

 "Dana Frankfort: Pictures" Deftly skirting the edge of obnoxiousness, Dana Frankfort's paintings at Inman Gallery are brashly beautiful. Day-Glo orange has to be one of the toughest colors to use, unless you're painting a traffic cone or creating an homage to '60s psychedelia. But Frankfort skillfully and sparingly employs a range of luridly fluorescent hues in gorgeously brushy paintings. Loosely printed capital letters spelling out simple words like "LIFE," "NUTS" and "PEOPLE" become points of departure for Frankfort's paintings. The letters and words are overlaid and obscured with frantically brushed areas of color. The text keeps things off-kilter, imparting an edginess to indulgently painterly wallows in color. Through March 6. 3901 Main, 713-526-7800. — KK

"Jonathan Marshall — Doubled Vision" A warm welcome to new gallery Art Palace! Previously based in Austin, the gallery recently relocated to Houston because its reputation had outgrown central Texas. The debut show, "Doubled Vision," is an impressive start for the new kids on the Inman/CTRL Gallery block. Jonathan Marshall's 2001: A Space Odyssey-inspired work finds the right balance of serious introspection, pop-cultural worship and tongue-in-cheek parody. A delightfully psychedelic half-hour video, Quest for Sight, supplies a context for the pieces on display, although one isn't necessary to enjoy the work, which includes painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and mixed media. The "story" involves three male characters connected through two identical teleportation tents (one in the mountains and one on a beach). All three men are on a quest for something, but what is it? One man tattoos another man — a bone on one leg and the Voyager I spacecraft on the other, an homage to Kubrick's famous primitive/futurist juxtaposition. Taken with the video, the objects in the room resonate louder as characters in themselves, artworks that are part of a larger one, and that may be possessed of dangerous powers. Through March 6. 3913 Main, 281-501-2964. — TS

"Ron Hoover — A Retrospective: 1972-2006" The Art Car Museum is to be commended for this exhibit, which traces the career of one of Texas's most uncompromising artists. Ron Hoover died in 2008, leaving a body of work that ranged from abstract to pop, and exuded a dark, almost obsessive distrust of authority and the status quo. Many of Hoover's works utilized a pointillist technique of vertical dashes, so the paintings' subjects become more fully visible when viewed from a distance. There's often a limited color spectrum, creating a hazy, mysterious aura that perfectly complements Hoover's often political-themed narratives. Plant Manager (1990) is a good example of this. The gray-toned painting depicts a man wearing a hardhat with smokestacks in the background. It's apocalyptic in its smoky, ashy, acid-rain rendering of industrial excess, but the main subject wears a self-satisfied grin that emphasizes Hoover's contempt for big industry and government. At times, this exhibit can feel a bit overwrought in its politics, but that was Ron Hoover. It's skillful, passionate stuff that suits its environment. Through March 5. 140 Heights, 713-861-5526. — TS

"Wishing Well for Houston" This collaborative project by Heath Hayner, Aram Nagle and Brian Piana is an interactive sculpture that depicts the disparities in income within the city of Houston. The sprawling white structure takes over almost the entire main room at the Art League, where visitors are encouraged to toss coins into it. The piece, which is in the shape of Harris County, is broken up into zones of different heights depending on the area's average median per-capita income. Not surprisingly, River Oaks and Memorial rise like skyscrapers over the low, flat areas of north and southeast Houston and the slightly taller middle-class zones. For an aural effect, each section contains metal chimes that ring when a coin makes contact — low tones for poor; high tones for rich. It's a fun and interesting way to learn about our city's uneven distribution of wealth. Cha-ching! Through February 26. Art League Houston, 1953 Montrose, 713-523-9530.— TS

 
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