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"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. Through September 2. 140 Heights Blvd., 713-861-5526. — MD

"Six Apart" This new exhibition at Barbara Davis Gallery is part of ArtHouston, an annual festival that strives to liven up the slow, hot summer art scene with fresh works from emerging artists. Thinking of it in those terms, this miscellaneous little show, featuring work by six very different artists, succeeds. Lisbon's Sara Bichão contributes a bold red 3-D wall sculpture, f.nyc, a dripping, diamond-shaped piece that juts out as if some bloody extension of the white gallery wall. It consists of concrete and glue, making for a rough, raw feel. Houston's Daniel McFarlane sets rigid, wooden geometric shapes against solid backgrounds of automotive paint and then adds oozing layers of acrylic paint in various colors. There's great tension in these planes, which seem to float in vivid time and space. Houston artist Ruth Shouval's Fragile series consists of two very different takes on a house. In two pairs of prints, Shouval depicts a house in the most basic, elementary way possible — 11 thick black lines — and then as an abstraction of itself, the lines running crooked, ruined and completely unstable on a crumbled piece of paper. It's simple yet elegant, this contrast of calm and chaos, and is one of the strongest parts of the show. Jon Swindler of Athens, Georgia, displays The Unfortunate Nature of Lithography #5, an installation of cascading poplar frames that display lithographs of related imagery. They're all tied to a drawing of what appears to be an elephant stuffed animal, though there's hardly a perfect print among them. Some are blackened, others off-center. They're the visual "left-overs," as Swindler calls them, the mistakes he's made in the process, displayed for all to see. It's a documentation of his failure, which is such a brave, funny and useful idea. The show also features Edward Schexnayder's perplexing wall-mounted abstract sculptures and Troy Stanley's Forest, Tree, Line — four wooden boxes with two-way mirrors. Through August 25. 4411 Montrose, 713-520-9200. — MD

"UNIT" Well, right now you can see more than 30 prints and editions from the online UNIT art shop in person in a new show at Gallery Sonja Roesch. It's a fitting location — UNIT is run by Houston artist Ariane Roesch, whose mother, Sonja, founded the gallery. It's the first of an annual summer show featuring works available on the site that include handmade limited-edition prints, products and publications. A quick run of the place introduces you to Cody Ledvina's Crawdad Ledvina EXPERIENCE, a display of DVD cases that tell a story through the covers (the video itself will be screened at the end of the exhibition's run); Mary Magsamen and Stephan Hillerbrand's Stuffed, a pillow case printed with the photograph of an intimidating ball of possessions; and Myke Venable's 12 tins, a line of black, diamond-shaped tins descending from the ceiling, attached to the wall with magnets. There are plenty of memorable prints, too; standouts include Gissette Padilla's Malicious Compliance, a "passive aggressive" lithography inspired by comic-book drawings; Mark Ponder's Cope, Not Hope series — ink drawings featuring overused, positive words like "wonderful" and "great" in a childlike bubble font surrounded by balloons and hearts, the dead, deflated balloons suggesting something darker; and Kim Huynh's Keystone Project Alberta, a photo-intaglio that has the word "pipeline" hole-punched into the print as if literally poking holes in the Alberta-Nebraska pipeline project. Lewis Mauk also is a prominent artist in the gallery with works from a recent series that speaks to his hoarding tendencies, including three photo-lithographs of decades-old marijuana baggies, ready to pop, and two Warhol-esque silk screens of larger-than-life used toothbrushes. Through August 25. 2309 Caroline, 713-659-5424. — MD

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