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"Jonathan Faber: Surface" Looking at Jonathan Faber's new work up at David Shelton Gallery, I see faces looking back at me. As with some Rorschach test that replaces black and white for neon colors and blots for primal geometric shapes, I can't help but see faces. In Surface, there are sleepy, swollen eyes, a light black stroke for a nose and a thin zigzag for a mouth. In Broadcast, the image of a face is less apparent, but there appear to be the makings of a green skull with jagged lines for teeth. Whether or not you see faces, you'll surely be striving to find something familiar in these abstract pieces. (Is that a sail in Blanket?) The Austin artist has a history of creating works that are intentionally ambiguous, based off of slippery memories of boating trips, his childhood home, Vermont stays and whatever else is buried there. Several of the works, in fact, seem indicative of a place. Wake looks like some sort of marshland, inhabited by an ominous aqua-blue specter waiting in the reeds. Segment is surprisingly restrained compared to Faber's busier works. There's what appears to be a sewage pipe spouting toxic water, and black blobs that look like scrambled Mickey Mouse ears. The painting has an unfinished quality, with black marks floating off into the distance. It's open-ended. The majority of these works are oil paintings, though Faber also has little studies in pastels. These seem less indicative of a certain place or landscape, as in Bouquet. As the name promises, there are images of flowers, however faint. They are floating, delicate imprints surrounded by harsh, crude lines of stripes and triangles. The bouquet is almost an afterthought. With this latest work, Faber continues to toe the line between figurative and abstract art, though it's one that's increasingly getting blurred. There's more guesswork involved and not knowing. That can be challenging, but Faber leaves just enough clues to keep you in the game. Through January 5. 3909 Main. 832-538-0924. — 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

"Translucent Trajectories" Both Orna Feinstein and Carlos Zerpabzueta are multimedia artists who traffic in works that are optically playful and vibrantly colorful, making this show a dizzyingly fun experience. Each uses materials that are very plasticky — Feinstein with her plexi, Zerpabzueta with his co-polyester. These materials can be very cold, disengaging and, sometimes in the case of Zerpabzueta's work, muddy, but once you get past that, they are highly interactive thanks to their three-dimensional qualities.Feinstein creates an almost "Magic Eye" effect with her Tree Dynamics series — layered pieces of fabric, paper and monoprint on plexi radiate orbs meant to represent the concentric circles of tree rings. There's a lot of tension in the works, between the natural and synthetic, as well as her use of a traditional printmaking medium in such a contemporary way. Feinstein continues to play with that dynamic in her Morel series, inspired by the structure of a plant or fungus when observed under a microscope. These sculptural works feature sheets of monoprint on plexi that seem to move and pulsate as you walk around them. Zerpabzueta studied architecture at one point, and his minutely constructed works here do take on a strong architectural quality. There are boxes and monitor-like structures filled with layers of acrylic on co-polyester that take the form of patterns or text. They seem like little puzzles, pieces that need to be decoded. That's especially the case with Codigo de Marcas, a mounted piece that looks like an open book layered with letters in yellow, black, red and blue. Despite the familiar letters, these textual elements don't reveal anything (at least not to the solely English-fluent viewer). The more you look at it, the less sense it makes, but you can't help but continue to stare. Anya Tish Gallery, 4411 Montrose, 713-524-2299. — MD

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