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Capsule Art Reviews: "35 Years: Anniversary Exhibition," "Kaneem Smith," "Math of the Afterward," "Richard Serra: Weight and Level" and "Houston, can you hear me?"

"35 Years: Anniversary Exhibition" Moody Gallery is 35! Packed with gallery artists, the anniversary show is like a big, riotous family reunion where all the crazy cousins showed up and brought art instead of a covered dish. Among the offerings, Michael Bise has a naked portrait of himself hooked up to an IV, Al Souza has one of those massive puzzle "paintings" and Mary McCleary presents one of her obsessive collages. Terry Allen's sculpture includes a neon-wrapped taxidermied coyote. Bill Steffy's contribution is a weighty little silver skull — a Mayan-fueled Damian Hirst smackdown. Betty Moody is one of those rare gallery owners who inspire a fanatically loyal following amongst both collectors and artists. Somebody ought to give her a medal. Through October 16. 2815 Colquitt, 713-526-9911. — KK

"Kaneem Smith" Kaneem Smith's installation of brown wax bones looks like the spoils of archaeological grave robbing. In Smith's solo show at TSU's University Museum, the cast bones are hung in a line on the wall, as if a researcher is categorizing and labeling them. And in a project located behind the old Jeff Davis hospital, Smith has done a public art piece that relates to this work. She filled grave-like metal ellipses with gravel and placed them over the unmarked African American burial ground behind the building. Although development has encroached into the area, the graves were never relocated. Will some archaeological team of the future excavate, clean, codify and display those remains of mothers, fathers, sons and daughters? Issues of memory, loss and a fascination with the body permeate Smith's work. Her University Museum exhibition is filled with materials like raw cotton, rope and handwoven fabrics, sometimes coated with plastic or rubber to create visceral and highly evocative objects. Through September 26. Texas Southern University, University Museum, Fairchild Building (south wing), 713-313-7011. — KK

"Math of the Afterward" Lawndale Art Center and Austin's Boozefox artist collective are a match made in heaven. Working 12-hour days for a week straight, collective members Mike Phalan, Jules Buck Jones, Scott Eastwood and Drew Liverman — and Lawndale staff and volunteers — constructed the biggest, most wonderfully ridiculous object the main gallery has ever hosted. (And with Lawndale, that really says something.) Math of the Afterward is a giant cardboard head, supposedly a Pre-Khormusan monument" salvaged from the "Chicxulub Crater" in the Gulf of Mexico. The head almost fills the entire 2,400-square-foot, 16-foot-high gallery. You enter it through a ramp leading into its mouth (Day-Glo orange letters warn you to "Enter at your own risk.") Two TVs screen psychedelic footage, creating the head's roiling eyes. Inside, among other things, the structure has an observation deck, walkways, a giant turning screw, fog machines and seating areas. This kind of epic, go-for-broke, patently unsaleable, riotous group effort was the hallmark of Early Lawndale. It's great to see it continuing at 21st-century Lawndale. Through September 25. 4912 Main, 713-528-5858. — KK

"Richard Serra: Weight and Level" and "Houston, can you hear me?" Richard Serra's etchings at Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery are as dark and richly textured as a layer of fresh asphalt. Serra is best known for his massive, minimalist steel sculptures. But working with the inimitable Gemini G.E.L., Serra has created large, deeply etched plates that seemingly hold ink like a sponge as their rough surface embosses the paper. Each print is an expansive sheet of black that reveals a slim horizon line of white paper along its top, marked by tiny dark flecks. Etching has never been high on my list of "stuff that makes cool prints," but Richard Serra's etchings have shattered my printmaking prejudices. Also check out Hana Hillerova's brightly colored starburst-like maquettes made for "Houston, can you hear me?" an upcoming project at Intercontinental Airport Terminal A. Made from laser-cut powder-coated steel, they're hung up high in the gallery's entry and are a nice preview of Hillerova's public art project. Through October 7. 4520 Blossom, 713-863-7097. — KK

 
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