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Capsule Art Reviews: "Joshua Goode: Origin of Myth," "Mac Whitney: Sculptures and Paintings," "Maggie Taylor: No Ordinary Days," "Mie Olise: Crystal Bites of Dust," "The Progress of Love," "Rosa Loy: Souvenir," "Wilo Vargas: Hierophany and Pareidolia"

"Joshua Goode: Origin of Myth" Joshua Goode is a big kid at heart. The Fort Worth artist has a silly sense of humor, plays with toys and is boundlessly imaginative. Just look at his show currently up at Darke Gallery, better off temporarily known as the Contemporary Alternative Natural History Museum. The Detering Street gallery is filled with "artifacts" "discovered" by Goode during an "excavation" of its street, the story goes. These artifacts are attributed to the Ancient Aurora Rhome civilization in North Texas, and, according to the gallery's fantastic release, "possess attributes of objects found in ancient Egyptian, Mycenaean, Etruscan tombs and of toys from the 1980s." Love it. They are unholy combinations of toys — there's a horse with a man's legs where its head should be, a tiger's body with a horse's rump for a head, and so on — and are given the most ridiculous names (the Legorse, the Asshtar). These chimeras — all painted the same shimmery gold — are placed under bell jars and accompanied by labels describing the figurines and their significance to the Aurora Rhome civilization. Goode is fully committed to this bit of make-believe. The fun doesn't stop there. Gallery-goers are able to participate in the excavation, too, thanks to a wooden rectangular structure filled with salt and buried figurines that you can dig for. Once you find one, you can identify and document it by placing it on a shelf underneath its appropriate label. Accompanying these figures are a whopping 40 small-scale paintings that Goode calls "Auroran Miniatures." These depict anything from fossils and ghosts to oil fields and owls and are all done in a loose, collage-like style that seems to evoke the artist's memories. If you detect a strong childlike quality to them in their crudeness (and, in one case, penciled hearts), Goode's six-year-old daughter in fact worked with him on these. The show is titled "Origin of Myth," and it is a fascinating exploration of one man's personal mythology as he ravages his past and present for material — and gives it new meaning in the process. The sprawling exhibit presents an impressive range of skill, too, as everything on display, including the beautiful wooden pedestals that support the bell jars and the interactive dig, is the result of Goode's touch. It all makes for a unique show unlike anything you've ever experienced. Through March 9. 320-B Detering. 713-542-3802. — MD

"Mac Whitney: Sculptures and Paintings" Mac Whitney's current show at Gallery Sonja Roesch only just went up earlier in January, but the sculptor would be familiar to regular gallery-goers as well as those who just happen to drive by the Midtown gallery. For the past seven months, the artist's 3,000-plus-pound sculpture Carrizozo has stood prominently outside the gallery, a red beacon as well as a preview of sorts of his solo show — a variety bag of a dozen of the Texas artist's sculptures, as well as a handful of paintings, all made over the latter half of his more than 40-year career. Whitney is a skilled metalworker who can manipulate steel at any scale and make it bend or curve at his command. It's quite astonishing to go from his 20-foot-tall Carrizozo to the barely 20-inch Bosque, another red number that rests on the gallery's table and is one of the first works you see upon entering. Despite their difference in stature, they have the same sense of strength, movement and elegance. Through his minimal use of color — just solid reds, blacks, blues or grays — he lets the raw steel do the talking. The artist's paintings are quite the departure from his metalwork. Where Whitney's sculptures are strong, interlocking forms, his oil paintings are loose and erratic in their lines. Where his sculptures are solid, bold colors, his paintings are messy bursts of blues, yellows and reds all at once. It's like he's freeing his mind from the constraints of the steel and imagining what shapes he might be able to bend his next sculpture into, against all odds. Through February 23. 2309 Caroline, 713-659-5424. —MD

"Maggie Taylor: No Ordinary Days" Maggie Taylor's brand of photomontage is a fascinating mix of old and new forms of photography that results in even more fascinating images. Since 1996, the Florida artist has been working with Photoshop, taking advantage of its imaging magic to create pictures that are truly surreal, strange and, yes, magical. She starts with 19th-century tintypes, photographs and other images she's acquired from flea markets, antique stores, eBay or other artists. She scans and then manipulates them in Photoshop, colorizing and layering the originals with her own photographs and other images she's come across. In what takes only seconds to describe, Taylor will spend weeks, often months manipulating a single piece, adding upwards of 60 layers or more. Thirty of these resulting images are on display at Catherine Couturier Gallery, timed to the publication of a new book of Taylor's works titled No Ordinary Days. Indeed, these pieces are anything but ordinary. Taylor's work is often described using the word "dreamscapes," but it's difficult to tell whether it's born of dreams or nightmares. In her alternate, unsettling realities, bees can magically coordinate to form a dress; a swimmer walks a cloud; a child tears her head in two as if it's a piece of paper; pigs fly; animals, flowers and leaves explode out of the back of a man's head; and landscapes are paradoxically lit like in Magritte's Empire of Light, the sky light as day while the land is in the shadows of darkness. They're by turns delightful and bizarre, but they're oddly compelling in their strangeness. They seem like illustrations to fairy tales or children's stories, full of whimsy, beauty and originality. And like any good tale, they leave you questioning your own sense of what's possible. Through March 16. 2635 Colquitt, 713-524-5070. — MD

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