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Three to See

Robert Pruitt, Gabriel Dawe and Tierney Malone are killing it in their respective local shows.

Tierney Malone has produced some of the edgiest work I've seen from him in "Ruminations of a Cluttered Mind" at PG Contemporary. Malone is a masterful painter who has created a huge body of work around vintage jazz album covers, selectively using segments of image and text as the jumping-off point for paintings and wall paintings with a palpably vintage aura. I easily could have missed something, but I think this is his first overtly political show, and it's the strongest work I've seen.

Instead of painting on walls, which tends to give his work a uniformly smooth surface, Malone is painting in chalky tempera on different-sized sheets of cardboard, which are all pieced together into one large work. The cardboard's slightly visible striation and the paint's matte texture give the work a sense of age and gravitas. Black and off-white combined with period hues — shades of red, orange, blue and green fashionable in the '50s — convey a certain sense of loss and wistful nostalgia.

In this body of work, political concerns have invaded and overlaid the jazz soundtrack of the artist's mind and manifested themselves in the graphic styles of jazz albums. There's a snippet of the "Hope" text from an Obama sign on one panel, while another illustrates in faded hues an image of a cartoon-like bomb dropping against a blue sky, with 3-D block letters that read "DRONE WARFARE" in pale yellow. It looks like the lid to an old children's board game.

Tierney Malone's masterful paintings have a vintage aura.
Courtesy of PG Contemporary
Tierney Malone's masterful paintings have a vintage aura.
Striking and original: Robert Pruitt's Steeped.
Courtesy of Hooks-Epstein Galleries
Striking and original: Robert Pruitt's Steeped.

Location Info

Map

Hooks-Epstein Galleries

2631 Colquitt
Houston, TX 77098

Category: Art Galleries

Region: Lower Shepherd-Kirby

Peel Gallery Shop

4411 Montrose Blvd.
Houston, TX 77006

Category: Art Galleries

Region: Montrose

P G Contemporary Gallery

3227 Milam St.
Houston, TX 77006

Category: Art Galleries

Region: Montrose

Details

"Robert Pruitt: You Are Your Own Twin"

Through October 15. Hooks-Epstein Galleries, 2631 Colquitt, 713-522-0718.

"Gabriel Dawe"

Through September 30. Peel Gallery, 4411 Montrose, Suite 400, 713-520-8122.

"Tierney Malone: Ruminations of a Cluttered Mind"

Through October 8. PG Contemporary, 3227 1/2 Milam, 713-523-7424. Artist Talk: 3 p.m. Saturday, October 15.

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Speaking of children, Malone trenchantly tweaks a Dr. Seuss classic in the piece Horton Hears a Palestinian!; part of the long-suffering elephant's head is visible below the title. In another section, a dark blue-black rectangle is painted with the words "Gulf Roux," a likely allusion to the BP oil spill and the Louisiana coast. A red panel advertises "HR 3162, GITMO RESORT." The word fragment "DEMOCRA" appears in white letters on a red background, we don't know if it ends with a "CY" or a "T." Rows of black exclamation points march across a white background in a piece. And rows of black bodies are arranged in another, a diagram of the hold of a slave ship that Malone uses to replace the plantation drawing that appears on the label of Southern Comfort. Malone has altered the text to read "Original Southern Seed, Shipman Mississippi."

The references go on and on, but they come across much more subtly in the work than in my descriptions. It's an incredible show. Malone is putting himself out there with frank, politically incisive work that avoids polemics and is visually glorious. Do you know how rare that is? See this show.

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