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"Layover" Putting art in an airport is almost a defeatist goal — people are too busy getting to someplace else to pause and reflect on an intricate painting or abstract sculpture right in front of them. But that doesn't mean Houston isn't going to try. Through a partnership of the Houston Airport System, City of Houston and Houston Arts Alliance, the city started curating a permanent collection of museum-quality photographs, paintings and sculpture by regional artists that can be rotated throughout Hobby Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport. The installation isn't happening until later this summer and into the fall, but the public can get a preview of some of the selected works in a current exhibition at the Alliance's gallery. The ten on display are hardly a majority of the 30-plus-item collection, but if this sample is any indication, there is a freshness to the works that goes beyond the provincial, "easy" or obvious. Katrina Moorhead's Map of Incomplete Listing of Uninhabited Islands of the World does deal with an obvious topic — travel — but there's a tongue-in-cheekiness to it as she's marked uninhabited locations on a print of a map that's been beautifully detailed in watercolor. These are not places you're likely to be traveling to today, but rather uncharted territory out there to be explored. Jonathan Leach adds some much-needed pop to the proceedings with Mainline, a pink, geometric painting in acrylic and spray paint that depicts a hectic cityscape — loud billboards and zigzagging lines. On the sculpture side, there's Jeffrey Forster's Device, a strange little green industrial-looking relic that looks like it's been left to rust and corrode, though incredibly, it's made out of ceramic. If this doesn't catch a harried traveler's attention, nothing will. Through August 24. 3201 Allen Pkwy., 713-527-9330. — 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. 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

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