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Capsule Art Reviews: "Ariane Roesch: Simple Machines and Simple Dreams," "CraftTexas 2012," "Dieter Balzer: Objects," "Endless Disharmony and Telltale Ashes," "Endless Disharmony and Telltale Ashes," "Texas Eclectic," "Tony Feher: A Work in Four Parts"

"Ariane Roesch: Simple Machines and Simple Dreams" For the past several years, Houston artist Ariane Roesch's work has been cleverly at the intersection of people and technology, and the multimedia artist continues to explore that dynamic in this well-crafted solo show at Redbud Gallery. Roesch presents three distinct series that play with our innate desires, the physical landscape and mechanization. There's her "picturesque landscapes" — found representations of forests, meadows and lakes that are transformed by Roesch's ink drawings, fabric and thread. In Insert Rhinoceros, for instance, Roesch has interrupted a painting of an idyllic forest scene with the image of a rhinoceros being hoisted in on a harness and pulley system. They're funny collages that through this juxtaposition look preposterous and out of place. The second series is Roesch's "comfort drawings," still-lifes of pillows done in black chalk on white felt. The show's third element is an installation of three soft sculptures — a ladder, an outboard motor and a chair which are not functional at all. The ladder is sewn out of a pink and white vinyl tablecloth; the outboard motor is made out of white rabbit velvet; and the chair is displayed high on a wall, closer to the ceiling than the floor, hopelessly and completely out of reach for any sitter. Indeed, the name of the piece is One Way Ticket (Himmelsfahrtkommando), which translates to "forlorn hope." Each series is strong and engaging on its own, though it's difficult to see how it all comes together cohesively. One thing does seem clear — for any purported simplicity, nothing is as simple as it seems, and dreams can still remain hopelessly out of reach. For all the prettiness in Roesch's feminine pieces, there's something refreshingly deeper and darker, too. Through October 27. 303 East 11th St., 713-862-2532. — MD

"CraftTexas 2012" This juried biennial show at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft purports to feature the best in Texas-made contemporary craft, and the 40 artists featured don't call that into question. Paula Gron is a basket weaver by nature, but uses her skills to concoct a wooden handle with found tree branches protruding creepily and chaotically from it like some alien takeover. For all its creepiness, it's not without a sense of humor — the piece is called My Toothbrush. Danny Kamerath also works in wood; for his compelling Table for Two he crafted two Barbie-size chairs and a table out of a stump of yaupon holly. The stump leans at all angles, pulling apart this quaint little set and making you feel incredibly uneasy in its unevenness. The dining-room table — a domestic constant — is coming apart. George Sacaris's Faux Bois Stumps features "stumps" of aluminum that sprout from the floor and have remnants of severed tree limbs jutting from their sides, but these highly polished pieces don't try too hard to fool you, which I like. They're too polished and shiny, for one, and they come in all sorts of unnatural colors, from rose to an Excel-logo green. In not resembling the stumps it so clearly does try to resemble, the piece makes you think about those differences even more. There's much more to see and like, from Diana Kersey's bonkers Bird Pot earthenware to Steve Hilton's epic wall installation, Tea for ? The latter is a clear winner in the show, even literally (Hilton, along with Gron and Sacaris, won jurors' prizes). It consists of families of teapots constructed out of stoneware. They sprout horizontally from the wall almost organically and resemble gnarls and knobs of wood, which in and of itself is a neat effect. But the teapots also seem to congregate like people do, even possessing distinct physical attributes. The longer you look at them, the more they seem to be reflections of ourselves. Through December 30. 4848 Main, 713-529-4848. — MD

"Dieter Balzer: Objects" While looking at Dieter Balzer's meticulous overlapping stripes and bold checkers, I couldn't help but think of the on-trend fashion equivalent — the mix-matched patterns and loud color blocking that have been everywhere this past summer. And now, so it seems, they've found their way to the walls of Gallery Sonja Roesch, whose current exhibition features the Berlin artist's newest works. From either vantage point, both the fashion and the art are appealing for many of the same reasons — the use of bright, vibrant colors, of blue against green against purple against orange, is cheery and attention-grabbing. Meanwhile, the different patterns are unexpected but have an innate logic and surprising order, even when the bars and squares that make up these sculptures overlap. Balzer, of course, isn't copying some in-vogue style; the Gallery Sonja Roesch favorite has been making reductive art like this for years, filling up the walls and floors here and in Europe with his colorful, linear sculptures. He has an exact system, too, creating his curiously named works (Mesa, Flic Flac, Xeos, Manga) based on a modular system of architecture and color. In this sense, every piece of adhesive foil-covered MDF has a place and a color and relates to other elements of the sculpture in a very specific way, making for works that are balanced despite their seeming disorder. Within all that spontaneity of color and pattern, there is a sense that Dieter is pulling the strings. While fashions may come and go, there is a timelessness to the artist's objects, which elegantly cut through the white space. His clean, bright sculptures can hold up. Through October 27. 2309 Caroline, 713-659-5424. — MD

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