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"[Houston Times Eight]" The Station Museum of Contemporary Art recently kicked off an ambitious new series called "HX8" ("Houston Times Eight") wherein the museum curates a show of eight diverse, contemporary Houston artists. Fabio D'Aroma is like a modern-day Caravaggio. He presents a grotesque procession along all four walls. There are naked bodies with thin arms, knobby red elbows and knees, and distended stomachs that are engaged with curious symbolism. There's a peacock and a menorah in one painting, a watermelon, some rifles and a bag of charcoal in another. There's so much coded in there, and it's all done in such jaw-dropping detail, that it's all a bit confounding. Street artist Daniel Anguilu has left his telltale mark all over Midtown and brings his animal imagery inside for the museum show, painting an epic, abstract mural on a temporary wall constructed just for the exhibition to create separate, almost sacred spaces for each artist. Robert Pruitt's powerful portraits depict three strong, fully realized African-American women. Prince Varughese Thomas's conceptual works criticize the wars in the Middle East, representing the lives lost, both of civilians and soldiers, through white, ghostly pennies and names in charcoal, layered until the paper turns black. Lynn Randolph processes the death of her husband through ancient symbols of mortality — birds. Her grief is overwhelming and beautiful in the sheer amount of work she has created and the number of birds that fill the walls of her room. Floyd Newsum's distinct, naive style and dense collages are loaded with personal materials, from chalk to photographs and symbols of his family. Serena Lin Bush explores concepts of family and bonds between sisters and friends through a video installation. And Forrest Prince's works in wood and mirror are calls to "love" and "repent," though the most biting words go out to his fellow artists: "If the work you are doing isn't contributing to the restoration of peace on our Mother Earth, or the health and welfare of all the creatures on her, then you are wasting your life and everyone else's time." Amen. Through February 17. 1502 Alabama, 713-529-6900. — MD

"Liz Ward: Cryosphere" In 1897, the Swedish explorer Salomon August Andrée and two companions attempted to travel over the North Pole by hot air balloon. They never made it. In fact, two days after taking off from Norway, they crashed onto Arctic ice, where they faced inevitable death. Their hot air balloon, and what was left of them and their camp, weren't discovered for another 30 years. It's a fascinating, but also horrifying, tale, and one that speaks to the allure of the North Pole at the time — an attraction that cost many men their lives. Liz Ward understands this appeal. The Texas artist is captivated by the North and the histories captured in its ice cores, which provide the subject matter of her new watercolors and silverpoint drawings currently up at Moody Gallery. In light watercolors and silverpoint, Ward depicts the ice cores, which are like the rings in tree trunks, except they record climate conditions over thousands of years via accumulations of snow and ice. Given its age, Arctic ice has unfathomable history and depth, and Ward's watercolors seem chock full of both, especially in her large-scale watercolors. In torrents of gorgeously vivid blues, reds, yellows and more blues, she manages to capture an inherent, raw energy, all the more aided by the subtle sparkle of the mica in her watercolors. In addition to these large-scale works, which the artist calls "glacial ghosts" in a further reference to climate change, Ward has two watercolor pieces positioned directly across from each other in the gallery titled Ice Balloon. They're minutely detailed blue circles that directly reference Andrée's doomed expedition. Even if you didn't know the morbid history, you couldn't look at these icy blue watercolors and not shiver. Through November 21. 2815 Colquitt St., 713-526-9911. — MD

"Structural Impermanence: New Works by Renée Lotenero" Renée Lotenero's works occupy an in-between space. They're piles of rubble creating something new as sculpture, while at the same time still remnants of something that used to be. They're photographs of tiles that once lined a floor or wall, digital replicas of these missing pieces that are now there, but still not there. A wall installation can be seen as the epitome of this impermanence — it's a piece that occupies the space now, only to come down once the exhibition ends. It's fitting then that the Los Angeles artist's show of new works at Peveto Gallery is titled "Structural Impermanence." The exhibition, the second here for Lotenero after her Houston debut five years ago at McClain Gallery, is chock full of new ideas and directions for the artist. Along with her trademark drawings and sculptures, there are some firsts — photography, collage and installation — and they all have another thing in common — repetition. In the wall installation The Back of a sculpture, the photograph of, yes, the back of a sculpture, which Lotenero had made four years ago, is used over and over again, printed at various sizes. It stretches out across the wall like the branches of a tree, as if organic. The artist's collages use a similar photographic effect, piling mounds of the same image over and over again into a slope. You'll have to get up close to the images to even realize that they're constructed in this manner, like a mountain of a deck of cards. In four photographs, Lotenero documents site-specific work she's done with tile. Their use isn't really functional; the images of the tile are like viruses, invading kitchens, a family room and a front yard. This artwork is playfully alive. Among all these new experiments in medium, one element is still crucial to the artist — scale. This is no clearer than in the sculpture Remnants of a small building with a new fig path installed, a piece of stainless steel surrounded by photographs of a repeated image. The ankle-high sculpture is comically small. It looks like an afterthought, as if it's not even supposed to be there. But there's as much going on here as in her giant wall installation, once you come down to its level. Through December 15. 2627 Colquitt St. 713-360-7098. — MD

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