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Capsule Art Reviews: "35 Years: Anniversary Exhibition," "Harvey Bott: Paradigms in Paint and Wire," "Richard Misrach: After Katrina,"

"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

"Harvey Bott: Paradigms in Paint and Wire" Down the way, Anya Tish Gallery is presenting a 76-year-old artist who is way more productive than most 26-year-old artists, and he's been making strong work since he was a teenager. Bott's 2003 show at Sicardi Gallery of work he made as an 18-year-old was a revelation. The early-1950s cache of drawings made with lines and angles of masking and cellophane tape predated Frank Stella's stripe paintings — and were better. Stripes are also in evidence in this show of Bott's most recent work. The artist is offering up some nice paintings, with irresistibly thick, glossy color painted over deeply scored sheets of Masonite. The cuts in the masonite create parallel ridges that underlie and define the vibrant, shiny geometric forms of the work. The show also includes some floor and wall sculptures from the '80s and '90s. They're made from cut and curved sheets of wire mesh with strands of colored plastic-coated wire woven into them to create patterns.  The floor piece Another Big Wave (1989) is the most successful, but it's really work that begs to be much larger scale. Bott is just the septuagenarian to pull it off. Through October 9. Anya Tish Gallery, 4411 Montrose, 713-524-2299. — KK

"Richard Misrach: After Katrina" The five-year anniversary of Katrina briefly brought the catastrophe and its victims back onto the front page. The MFAH's exhibition of Richard Misrach photographs was timed to the anniversary, but the unpopulated images capture and convey the Katrina tragedy in the words of its survivors and will continue to speak long after media attention has again faded. Armed with a dinky four-megapixel camera, Misrach photographed the official and unofficial graffiti spray-painted over New Orleans's devastated homes in Katrina's aftermath — the search and rescue notations, personal messages, expletives, quips and exclamations of its residents and evacuees. What emerges is a portrait of people overwhelmed by tragedy and sometimes managing to fight back with dark humor. The poster image for the series is a shot of a red brick ranch-style house with the words "Destroy this memory" scrawled across it. Rescuers' orange spray-paint code for checked houses and notations of dead bodies and dead animals are ubiquitous. Despair is written bluntly across roofs, "HELP." Others declare, "I AM ALIVE" and add a cell phone number. Humor, the ultimate coping mechanism, is in full view. "YEP, BROWNIE, YOU DID A HECK OF A JOB" is caustically printed on the side of a garage. The worst are the questions. "MICHAEL, WHERE ARE YOU?" is written on a house above a contact number. Misrach's series is especially compelling because he gives Katrina's victims a voice, one that is as complex as they are, and one that will continue to resonate. Through October 31. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7300. — KK

 
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