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Capsule Art Reviews: "Elaine Bradford: The Sidereal" "Guns and Roses" "Jackie Gendel: Fables in Slang" "Measured: Lawndale Artist Studio Program Exhibition" "Nathan Green: Fill the Sky" "Voodoo Pop: Mary Hayslip and Trey Speegle" "Wendy Wagner: Once Up

 "Elaine Bradford: The Sidereal" There are stores known for doing "artsy" window displays, but artists still come up with the best stuff. The Dallas Art Fair recently organized a series of window installations by artists in the windows of Dallas's downtown Neiman Marcus, and the Blaffer Art Museum is taking advantage of a downtown Houston window space during its upcoming renovation. Elaine Bradford's "The Sidereal" is the first offering in the Blaffer's "Window into Houston" series. The installation builds on the artist's ongoing "Museum of Unnatural History," a faux natural history museum filled with imaginary animals created by Bradford using crochet and actual dead (taxidermied) stuff. "The Sidereal" fills two display windows, one with mutant arctic rabbits and giant "ice" stalactites and stalagmites, the other with oddball woodland creatures and fake greenery. It's a great diorama, although I miss the extra punch of the campy painted backdrops that graced Bradford's Art League "unnatural history" installation. The display windows work especially well at night — and parking is easier. Through June 22. 110 Milam, 713-743-9521. — KK

"Guns and Roses" On the surface, the new show at Anya Tish Gallery recalls happy childhood memories and tooth-rotting sweetness. But there's dark commentary lurking in the work of Texas artists Shannon Cannings and Ann Wood. Cannings paints toy guns with an emphasis on their bright colors and plastic details, like the "wood grain" in the stock of a green water-machine-gun. She paints each toy firearm as if it were mounted on a wall, capturing the glowing shadows cast through colored plastic. One work, Cross Your Heart, is an image of an Annie Oakley-style rifle with pink stock and shoulder strap. The way the strap hangs from the gun casts a shadow resembling the shape of a cross-your-heart bra. The seven pieces are all beautiful, and they challenge our recollections of childhood fun with the argument that they teach kids to be violent. Wood's installation Snare is an intensely bright scene of bunnies, a tall cake and roses coated in frosting-like substances and what looks like poured pink taffy. The bunnies are taxidermy forms, and the pink "taffy" is actually poured foam. Wood translates the sweet, pleasing attraction of candy and dessert into an image of suffering and encroaching death. It recalls pictures of birds covered in oil from the BP disaster. Emotionally, it sweeps you from enjoying its silliness to seeing it as a symbol of the ultimate humiliation of nature. Through June 4. Anya Tish Gallery, 4411 Montrose, 713-524-2299. — TS

"Jackie Gendel: Fables in Slang" Houston-born Jackie Gendel paints portraits and people in a style that recalls a number of late-19th-early-20th-century French painters, but with cranked-up distortion. Her people are constantly obscured by a surface abstraction, or they retreat into the background, virtually faceless with the furniture and decor surrounding them. Chaty and Marthe in the Kitchen is perhaps this series's most striking work, and it demonstrates Gendel's anti-narrative approach. Two women sit at a kitchen table looking epically bored. Their faces and hair are the most detailed parts of the painting, which is brilliantly colored as well. In fact, its brightness is in direct opposition to the malaise depicted. In Calloway, a 1930s-era man is surrounded by wild abstraction that is threatening to envelop him. In a trio of small gouache-on-paper works, Gendel's subjects turn noir-ish, suggesting an unknowable evil in the characters' black-and-white eyes. Field of Mars III looks like a scene out of Greek Myth updated by the presence of a woman in a 1980s outfit and hairdo. Gendel challenges our notions of art and history with mischievous and dreamy flourishes. Through July 2. Bryan Miller Gallery, 3907 Main, 713-523-2875. — TS

Location Info

Map

Anya Tish Gallery

4411 Montrose Boulevard
Houston, TX 77006

Category: Art Galleries

Region: Montrose

Bryan Miller Gallery

3907 Main
Houston, TX 77002

Category: Art Galleries

Region: Downtown/ Midtown

Lawndale Art Center

4912 Main St.
Houston, TX 77002

Category: Art Galleries

Region: Downtown/ Midtown

Art Palace

3913 Main St.
Houston, TX 77004

Category: Attractions and Amusement Parks

Region: Third Ward

Art League Houston

1953 Montrose Blvd.
Houston, TX 77006

Category: Art Galleries

Region: Montrose

The Menil Collection

1515 Sul Ross
Houston, TX 77006

Category: Art Galleries

Region: Montrose

"Measured: Lawndale Artist Studio Program Exhibition" Lawndale's Artist Studio Program provides resources and unrestrained studio space for three projects each year, chosen from a call for entries, and the current main gallery group show is displaying the results. Daniel McFarlane presents a series of acrylic paintings on panels that depict wooden, geometric 3D shapes augmented with abstract, blobby matter. The works flip the properties of organic and synthetic materials, suggesting bizarro-world trees and parasitic organisms. Next, Anthony Thompson Shumate delivers a show of 1:1 scale drawings of "tools," like a drill, a car, clothes and a vibrator. At first look, they appear to be studies or unfinished exploratory drafts, but taken together they form a strange kind of blueprint for living — like a character study in a Hollywood movie. Next stop: corporate branding. Third, Mary Magsamen and Stephan Hillerbrand's photo and video series is a collection of wild household imagery. The photos take titles from Greek myth, like Diana, an image of Magsamen holding a black Labrador dog in her arms, and Pandora, with several human limbs emerging from a cardboard file-cabinet box. The videos are the stars of the show. In DIY Loveseat, Magsamen and Hillerbrand pose indoors on a love­seat with a strangely sagging middle. Then, we see how it got that way. Magsamen used a chainsaw to cut the middle section out of a couch, after which Hillerbrand used duct tape to fuse the two remaining sections together. The actual sections are displayed in the gallery. In Elevated Landscape, Hillerbrand does a little nighttime landscaping on his lawn, mowing, watering, fertilizing and leaf-blowing a section of grass. Magsamen arrives, backing her Mini Cooper up to an elevated platform — the "lawn" is actually atop the platform. It's an odd jump; I thought the video needed a shot that zoomed out to reveal the platform. But what happens next takes "cutting the lawn" to a hilarious level. On view through June 4. 4912 Main, 713-528-5858. — TS

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