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Capsule Art Reviews: "Apparition of a Deer," "David Aylsworth: The Reverses Wiped Away," "Lucas Johnson: Original Prints," "Perry House: Elegance/Violence," "Rhythm," "Shifting Transforming: Ideas, Shapes & Materials," "Tu Eres o No Tu Eres Mi Baby"

"Apparition of a Deer" In this show, Melanie Loew's paintings come across as highly symbolic and associative. She paints women in the nude, bringing to mind vulnerability, femininity and truth. They're often depicted with deer or just their antlers, which could connote goddess mythology and power. And they're painted in strong color schemes — green or purple or blue — that then take on their own meaning through the work. Uniting all of these works, in addition to the deer imagery, are her patterned backgrounds. The works are highly personal — Loew has even used her friends as subjects — but when added all together, they just didn't pull me in. The message is muddled among all those elements, and I couldn't connect with them. There are also some inclusions in the show that don't quite mesh with the rest. King of Swords and Queen of Fire, which depict the faces and hands of two circus freaks, so to speak, are out of place among the clear cohesion of the rest of Loew's body of work here. Similarly, Ginormous, a self-portrait of the artist painted on a wooden door, shares some elements with the other works, including a richly patterned background and nudity, but is ultimately out of place in terms of shape and subject matter. Regardless, I was glad for its inclusion, since it's one of the stronger pieces in the show. The painting hits you head on, with the door hung low so that you're eye-level with the subject. And it's painted with greater realism than the more surreal works, from the tattoos on her naked body to the contours of her stomach and thighs. Nothing's shrouded in symbolism here; it's just honest. Through July 14. Darke Gallery, 320 Detering St., 713-542-3802. — MD

"David Aylsworth: The Reverses Wiped Away" This new show at Inman Gallery displays artist David Aylsworth's geometric abstractions, with titles geekily borrowed from show-tune lyrics. The paintings are predominantly stark white planes and hard edges. In the works that do employ color, the white takes on an erasing quality, overtaking the canvas. These plays between color and form make for great depth and tension as the angular shapes interact with each other. In Vaguely Discontented, three triangle-like pieces convene on the left side of the canvas, floating. In Doors Slamming Left and Right, a triangle holds court in the middle of the canvas, almost swallowed whole by the enveloping white. Indubitably is like a natural progression of this painting, a comically small patch of color barely present at the intersection of Aylsworth's hard lines on a rough white canvas. It's like a portal to someplace where there's free rein of color. Though there is a lot of white, it isn't all the same unadulterated color. Alysworth's method is to apply white paint over layers of color paint, creating off-kilter, angular shapes with each layer. In the process, the white mixes with the underlying colors, taking on pinkish, purplish or greenish hues while seemingly trying to obliterate the original color, these false starts of pink, purple and green. Through July 7. 3901 Main, 713-526-7800. — MD

"Lucas Johnson: Original Prints" All summer long, the practice of printmaking is being celebrated with PrintHouston with works on display in nearly 30 galleries, featuring hundreds of artists who make both traditional and contemporary prints. But none may be able to capture printmaking's range and history here better than one show by a single artist. In an exhibition of original prints by Lucas Johnson at Moody Gallery, the pieces selected include all the printing styles in which the artist was skilled, from aquatint, etching and lithography to serigraphy, drypoint and mezzotint, spanning his prolific 40-year career. The works also subtly show Johnson's involvement with the Houston art and printmaking community. Many of the 25 works featured in this exhibition were printed at either Little Egypt Enterprises, led by master David Folkman during the 1970s or, later, Cerling Etching Studios, established by Penny Cerling in 1990. The gallery itself is even part of Johnson's legacy, as the artist showed his work there from when it opened in 1975 to his death in 2002, with the Moody continuing to show his prints thereafter. The only place Houston doesn't seem to register is in the subjects of the works themselves. Johnson had a love of many things — Mexico, music, politics and fishing, to name a few. From the band of Mexican musicians in the lithograph Los Musicos — extremely colorful and lively even in black-and-white — to the tension of the somber Springtime in Bolivia, to the ugly lantern fish in his well-known Bottomfeeders series, his prints are tokens of that love. They're works that are sometimes serious, dark and humanistic, and other times wonderfully strange and funny. And, above all, they're still highly technical and well-crafted. Through July 7. 2815 Colquitt, 713-526-9911. — MD

"Perry House: Elegance/Violence" Perry House is all about opposites — he strives to create images that are beautiful and disturbing, elegant and violent, exploring construction and destruction, bordering realism and abstraction, and walking the line between "horror and humor," as he says. His giant retrospective at the Art Car Museum spans House's 30-plus years of painting. It includes several of his most recognizable series — the most well-known being his surrealist Southern Dinner Series, composed of amoebic, loudly patterned plates that bend around the edges like bedpans and are set against loudly patterned backdrops of fish and flowers. This series is barely ten years old, but already House has moved way past his distorted Fiestaware and returned full circle to a preoccupation of his earlier in his career — landscapes, which are all noted by a mysterious date (2.20.11, 6.3.11 and so on). These are not the overwrought, wreckage-filled landscapes of his Aftermath Series but something more abstract — two-dimensional cityscapes. In an age of 3-D everything, there's something disconcerting, and arresting, about their flatness. With a 1980s graffiti vibe (must be all that neon), they're disjointed and distorted. House has said he doesn't think too much about color when he paints, but these recent paintings have such a strong sense of pigment that you may easily refer to them as the blue one or the red one. Meanwhile, his black-and-white ink drawings, wherein he essentially forgoes a palette altogether, are especially alluring. 140 Heights Blvd., 713-861-5526. — MD

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