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Capsule Art Reviews: "Plenitude," "Rachelle Vasquez: Where Pigeons Dare," "Tony Smith: Drawings"

"Plenitude" "Plenitude" is a big group show of "emerging and established artists," and as such, it's a well-chosen grab bag of nice work. Among the standouts is Hoary Squeezy Conversation (2010) by Annie Lapin. The artist uses paint in a way that is engaging and modern — it looks alternately brushed and squeegeed on — while the imagery looks simultaneously abstract and representational. And speaking of "abstract," Joe Davidson's Abstract (2005) is a collection of small cylindrical forms with a twist. They look like lovely little jars cast from wax or carved from alabaster, but actually they're hollow, featherweight forms made from Scotch tape. Meanwhile, Gavin Perry's painting Mother do you wanna bang heads with me (2008-2010) delivers glossy color in orange and yellow pours of resin so vibrantly colored they look molten. Through March 5. Barbara Davis Gallery, 4411 Montrose, 713-520-9200. — KK

"Rachelle Vasquez: Where Pigeons Dare" Rachelle Vasquez's lovely exhibition of animal drawings closes this weekend at Lawndale Art Center. Some may have seen Vasquez's work before; she crochets witty animal scarves for Hello Lucky. They look like a dead fox or rabbit is wrapped around your neck — but in a silly rather than a gory way. The artist's drawings in "Where Pigeons Dare" are tinged with a gentle humor but also quite poignant. Vasquez created delicate little pencil drawings of animals that were awarded the Dickin Medal, a British Medal of Honor for animals serving the military. The image information recounts astounding feats of heroism by the likes of pigeons, dogs and horses, each memorialized in a tender and slightly goofy line drawing. It's a winning combination of text and image. Through January 15. Lawndale Art Center, 4912 Main, 713-528-5858. — KK

"Tony Smith: Drawings" Tony Smith's geometric steel sculptures are included in pretty much every modern art survey text — his drawings, not so much. And that's a shame, because they're pretty amazing. "Tony Smith: Drawings" is a little gem of a show curated by Bernice Rose, chief curator of the Menil Drawing Institute and Study Center, and focusing on work executed between 1953 and 1955, early in Smith's artistic career. In charcoal or colored pastel on brown paper, the drawings have abstract forms with a biomorphic vibe and sense of sculptural solidity. In a number of them, circular shapes cluster like molecules or morph and divide like microorganisms. The biggest surprise, for those familiar with the artist's monochromatic 3D work, is Smith's masterful use of vibrant color. It's a 50-year-old palette that feels surprisingly contemporary. April 3. The Menil Collection, 1515 Sul Ross, 713-525-9400. — KK

 
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