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"Oil Sketches by Kim Dingle" There used to be a lot of "house galleries" in Houston, Montrose bungalows turned into exhibition spaces. But the real estate boom and townhome craze of the late '90s and early 2000s took care of most of them. Hopefully, artist Sharon Engelstein is leading a revival. Engelstein and her husband, painter Aaron Parazette, have turned the front parlor of their 1920 bungalow into a great gallery space. The Front Gallery's inaugural show features L.A. artist Kim Dingle's oil sketches — brushy, gestural images of chubby-legged little girls in puffy-sleeved white dresses, white socks and black Mary Janes. Neither saccharine vintage children's illustrations nor creepy Henry Darger characters, Dingle's girls are decidedly self-possessed. Pouting, clowning or angry, they wear frilly clothes symbolic of the stereotypical "girlishness" they choose to ignore. Through November 26. Front Gallery, 1412 Bonnie Brae, 713-298-4750. — KK

"Pan Y Circos" "Pan Y Circos" is an enjoyably eclectic group show curated by Robert Boyd of the art blog "The Great God Pan Is Dead" and Zoya Tommy, artist and PG Contemporary owner. The pair pulled together new work and old favorites from artists they like. Sharon Engelstein has some of her great biomorphic inflatable sculptures on view. One fills up a back room, blocking the door with what looks like the world's biggest breast. Dennis Harper throws a giant red paper motorcycle into the mix, and Paul Kittelson offers up a white sculpture of a refrigerator, the doors cracked open to emit colored fluorescent light. (It's like a James Turrell Frigidaire.) Check out Britt Ragsdale's entertaining Screen Test, which features various Houston art-world characters hamming it up as they pretend to be shot. Meanwhile, Santiago Forero offers up self-portraits that poke at our assumptions about height, athleticism and masculinity as the less-than-five-foot-tall artist casts himself in the roles of soldier and Olympian.  And much, much more...Through November 5. PG Contemporary Annex, 3225 Milam, 713-523-7424. — KK

"Working in the Abstract: Rethinking the Literal" This show acts as a kind of teaching tool, so it's appropriate that it's on display at the Glassell School of Art. It's a primer on different styles of abstract painting, and it features some local heavy hitters of abstraction. The styles range from the liquid and organic compositions of Michael Kennaugh and Terrell James to the structured and geometrically inspired works of Pat Colville and Susie Rosmarin. The show's good for cleansing your mood palate; it's a way to exorcise those analytical demons and distill your surroundings down to color, shape and pattern. Rosmarin's meditative grids are consistently sweet eye candy, illuminated and flickering in an op-art-ish way. And Brooke Masterson Stroud's mysterious black paintings mix hard lines with hazy, unknowable open space. The exhibit succeeds in displaying the potential for emotion in abstraction. Through November 28. The Glassell School of Art, 5101 Montrose, 713-639-7300. — TS

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