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Stephan Hillerbrand and Mary Magsamen channel their lives into their work at Art League Houston.

Like Andrea Zittel turning her experiences into her art, it's nice that the artists are creating something out of their life, and that they're including their family. And they handle it well — anytime you do something autobiographical or, God forbid, about your kids, there is always the chance to make stuff that is only interesting to you, and maybe the grandparents. That's not the case here; their work resonates beyond themselves.

It's a good show, and it certainly has extra conceptual appeal for people in the same life stage as the artists, but it could be a great show. Somehow, it feels a little pat, like it needs more of an edge. One of the artists' earlier videos, Accumulation, is shown on a monitor in the foyer. In it, the artists pile up crap in a darkened room high enough to climb up and escape through an attic door. All the while, we hear the rapid-fire patter of an auctioneer. It makes you think of people losing everything they own against their will or, conversely, intentionally escaping the burden of material possessions. In another scene in the video, the couple's daughter is shown dangling in the dark, hanging by one arm from the rectangular opening in the ceiling. (There is an unseen platform beneath her.) It's a superficially ambiguous piece — the artists aren't frantic, and the girl doesn't seem panicked — but it has ominous undertones, a sense of strangeness, a whiff of despair.

Maybe the actual junk in the show could be handled a little differently. It's too spread out and artfully arranged. It would be great piled in an enormous mound in the center of the gallery, as it is in Accumulation. Or maybe if there was enough of it to cover the walls and make the whole place totally claustrophobic. There is an opportunity for that to happen; however, the artists are asking people to bring their own crap and add it to the installation. Here's your chance to purge, and help make art! Plus, it's for a good cause. Everything will be auctioned off live on February 18 at 11 a.m., and all proceeds will go to Star of Hope. Don't outbid me on that Batman tricycle. We really need some more crap at our house.

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