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Capsule Art Reviews: "The Big Show," "A Golden Time of Day," "Hilary Wilder: A Northern Tale," "Interstitial Spaces: Julia Barello & Beverly Penn," "Kyle Farley: Countenance," "UNIT," "Woven Landscapes"

 "The Big Show" For this year's big show, Marco Antonini of Brooklyn's NURTUREart has proven to be an adventurous curator whose style knows no boundaries. This is one of the leanest of the Big Shows yet. Among the 915 submissions from 381 artists, Antonini selected 69 works from 61 artists. The big attention-grabber is Katie Wynne's ingenious untitled piece, composed of simply a motorized tie rack and blue satin on a white platform. The satin is attached to this insect-like contraption, which is turned on so that it's constantly whirring and catching the cloth in its "legs." It's creepy, suspenseful and mesmerizing all at once, and you can watch it for hours. Kassandra Bergman's Always features a piece of cardboard with the word "always" on it in orange capital letters with glitter added, displayed in a much larger frame than necessary. This drab piece of cardboard suddenly becomes poignant and wistful, a long cry from the Dumpster it was most likely destined for. Mari Omori's Time Machine features tiny white soap sculptures on a white platter. It has a pleasing, clean, geometric element to it. And, this being soap, it's fragrant, too, which adds a delightful sensory component to the experience of the piece. Matthew Glover's Now Is When I Wish It Was Autumn is a playful installation of knitted reddish-brown leaves. Anyone with a tourist's knowledge of Houston's weather can get the joke, but it's still a funny one. The title of Donna E. Perkins's video — Beached Bag, Galveston — sets up the premise well. It's a three-minute, 30-second loop of a black plastic bag, washed repeatedly by waves at the shore. The TV is placed low, closer to your ankles than to your eyes, so the experience is as close to the original as possible, as if you were on a beach in Galveston watching this helpless bag get twisted by the waves over and over. Like Wynne's tie rack-satin piece, it keeps you oddly rooted. Through August 11. Lawndale Art Center, 4912 Main, 713-528-5858. — MD

"A Golden Time of Day" There is a great little photograph of Sammy Davis Jr. up at McClain Gallery now. It's pop perfection — the musician is decked out in a red vest and shoes, his arms out to his sides and his left foot kicked up in a freeze-frame dance pose. The fact that the image, by celebrity photog Milton H. Greene, is included in a group show about the use of gold in contemporary art, with nary any gold in sight, may be a bit perplexing at first. But as this exhibition shows, "golden" can be as much a use of color as a mood or feeling. Houston artist Tierney Malone inspired the name of the exhibition with his work Golden Time of Day, which is, curiously, a mostly red piece — a blood-red board with the text "golden time of day" written across it in a gold, upper-case stencil that gives the work an almost reverent feel, the propriety of this font contrasting the rugged, imperfect quality of the board. Christian Eckart''s Detail Painting #538 is what can be described as gold on gold — a square, textured panel of gold paint displayed in a gold frame. Other stand-out pieces in this pleasantly diverse show include Jonathan Seliger's humorous Golden Pavilion, a stack of gold-plated bronze in the shape of those mass-produced, disposable Chinese take-out boxes; Jenny Holzer's Amber Essays, a ridiculously thin electronic LED sign with scrolling, blinking gold text; and Karin Broker's heart on hold — an intricate, wired mess of vintage gold and pink rhinestone jewelry in the shape of a heart, encased in a glass box. Through August 18. 2242 Richmond, 713-520-9988. — MD

"Hilary Wilder: A Northern Tale" There is something compellingly otherworldly about Hilary Wilder's work. Geysers, glaciers, high seas — the imagery suggests a chilly northern element we can only approach through intense air conditioning. It's likely a desired effect, as Wilder plays with notions of what's real in nature in her new show at Devin Borden Gallery, fittingly called "A Northern Tale." The artist draws on her experiences traveling to Iceland for the new works. There are paintings of seascapes and exploding geysers, a sculpture of a black-and-gold skiff, and references to a modern war, the kind fought over fishery rights. To tell these stories, Wilder uses an impressive range of materials and skills. There's a wonderful craftiness to her works — she uses PVC and jewelry hinges in the white floor piece Garment for an Island Nation, spray paint and gold leaf in The Viking's Skiff, and, in the majority of pieces, acrylic on Yupo paper to depict, in turns, wood and ice. Raft, the show's centerpiece work, appears to be a raft in disarray, three pieces neatly held together while three others lean precariously off to the side, barely, almost impossibly held together by a string of twine. Upon closer inspection — namely, as one reads the gallery list — it becomes apparent that these aren't pieces of wood but an illusion of acrylic on Yupo paper that resembles the organic shades and patterns of wood. Wilder has tricked us. She successfully plays with order and disorder, the real and the unreal. Through August 5. 3917 Main, 713-529-2700. — MD

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