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Capsule Art Reviews: "Asis/Esmeraldo/Espinosa/Lizárraga," "Book Report," "Hayden Fosdick: Paper Compounds," "Helen Altman: Half-Life," "Insperity Golf Experience," Marc Swanson: The Second Story, "Mary McCleary: A Survey 1996-2011," "Raimund Girk

"Asis/Esmeraldo/Espinosa/Lizárraga" Work by 79-year-old Argentine artist Antonio Asis is a standout in Sicardi Gallery's thoughtful works-on-paper show. The gallery is showing Asis's geometric work from the 1960s — small, page-size acrylic works on paper. Carefully rendered on graph paper, Asis's designs reveal their handmade origins in minute and endearing ways. Gorgeous little bands of color radiate against each other in one work, while in another tiny, pixel-like grids of squares in warm and cool colors look like early computer-generated imagery. A series of small, black-and-white graph-paper paintings explore positive and negative space using circles, semicircles and squares. Their patterns are beautifully precise, but if you scrutinize them carefully enough, you are rewarded with evidence of the artist's brush straying just a little too far here and there. In an age of masking-taped edges and slick digital geometries, there is something warm and wonderful about seeing the human hand strive for perfection and fail. Through October 8. 2246 Richmond, 713-529-1313. — KK

"Book Report" As the electronic word slowly usurps the printed word, books are becoming increasingly fetishized. "Book Report," organized by Kinzelman Art Consulting in the lobby of the Bank of America building, brings together a host of book-related works. Given all the recent bank bailouts (and my personal animosity towards BoA and the jacked-up interest rate on my credit card), I found it particularly fitting that the show includes Conrad Bakker's carved and painted replica of a Penguin Classics edition of Karl Marx's Capital: Volume One, displayed in a vitrine. Other works are hung on temporary walls, including images from art duo Manual's ongoing series of book photographs. Their great homages to Josef Albers's square paintings, featuring books of different sizes and colors stacked on each, are on view. Daniela Comani offers images from her series "New Publications," in which the gender-specific titles of classic literature are tweaked — as are the viewer's assumptions. The digitally manipulated photos of slightly used paperpack covers are spot-on, and it takes more than a moment to notice Dostoyevsky's Sisters Karamazov or Ralph Ellison's Invisible Woman. Meanwhile, Darryl Lauster's cast-resin books turn reading material into dark, weighty slabs that come across like small-scale monoliths. It's an incredibly nice show and would be for any venue, let alone a bank lobby. If you work downtown, you should definitely check it out, and if you don't, it's worth the trip. Through December 29. Bank of America Center, 700 Louisiana. For information, call Kinzelman at 713-533-9923 — KK

"Hayden Fosdick: Paper Compounds" Hayden Fosdick's small, minimalist collage works feel right at home on the walls of downtown urban boutique The Tipping Point. The little cut-and-paste jobs, utilizing imagery and paper from a collection of old books the artist inherited from his late father, look like tiny wheat-paste street-art works. Most contain only two or three image components, combined to create a simple yet visually compelling hybrid. Fosdick slips up occasionally, but only because he tries, perhaps, to keep it simple, and some of his juxtapositions lack an organic connection. In other words, some pieces feel unfinished. But there's much to enjoy in this show, like an ear inserted into an incomplete female face, where the earlobe is transformed into the end of a stuck-out tongue; and one in which the upper torso of a woman doing a workout routine springs from the funnel of a tornado. Another plus: The price is right. Most of these pieces can be bought for $150-$200, just a shade more expensive than that cool pair of PUMA high-tops on the shelf. Through October 15. 1212 Main, 713-655-0443. — TS

"Helen Altman: Half-Life" It's like she's psychic. The nature and fire imagery in Helen Altman's show, done way before the rash of Texas wildfires, was nothing if not prescient.  Of course, it's not like it came out of nowhere — Altman has an abiding interest in the natural world, and she's done drawings with blowtorches before, as well as building sculptures from glowing fake fireplace logs. I've never been that big on Altman's 2D work, but when she starts bringing in the 3D elements, things get interesting. In the back gallery at Moody, Line of Fire (2011), Altman's wall painting of a beaver dam, has a stand of stripped-down trees in its background. Flickering, flame-like Christmas lights are attached to the wall and clustered over the painted trunks, seemingly setting them alight. Meanwhile, Two Deer Reflecting (2011) is a gorgeously black-humored work, a vintage lamp with a colorfully hokey forest scene on its shade. It's one of those cylindrical lamps with a rotating insert, which Altman altered by cutting out tiny flame shapes. As the inner cylinder rotates against the light, fire seems to rage through the tranquil forest. Vinyl letters on the wall behind it read: Gordon said to Enid, "Living well is the best revenge." Enid looked up and replied, "Burning down their cabin is a close second." Through October 15. Moody Gallery, 2815 Colquitt St., 713-526-9911. — KK

"Insperity Golf Experience" Putt-putt golf isn't the leisure activity it used to be. What killed it? We have no idea, but if upscale makeovers are bringing people back to the bowling lanes, we think contemporary art might do the same for putt-putt. The nine-hole Insperity Golf Experience explores what happens when you ask artists to design putt-putt holes. You get your standard, avoid-the-obstacles holes like Emily Sloan's Sloan Winding Landscape, a yellow-turf area split by a little winding fence, as well as trick-shot challenges like Elaine Bradford's Hole in the Sidereal, complete with a replica of the artist's signature sweater-clothed deer. We wanted to play Anthony Thompson Shumate's Galactic Forfeit Cowboy Lounge, which launches the golf ball through a custom-made pinball machine, but it was temporarily out of service. And the Art Guys naturally contribute a hole you can't even play; it's meant only as sculpture. (Score yourself a hole-in-one and enjoy.) Through November 27. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney, 713-400-7336. — TS

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