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"Salt House" When artists take over the seven row houses from 2505-2521 Holman Street in the Third Ward, there's usually the desire to be busy. Sculpture hangs from the ceilings, drawings are done right on the white paint or each wall is painted a different color entirely. So what's so remarkable about Sean Shim-Boyle's art project currently in one of Project Row Houses' historic shotgun houses is its simplicity. The walls are painted white, the floor a light gray. Nothing hangs from the vaulted ceiling, which is accented by dark crossbeams thanks to the natural architecture of the house. An off-center red-brick chimney, also original to the home, remains untouched except for a couple of lines of white paint, possibly markings left behind by a previous artist. The most significant change Shim-Boyle makes is adding a second red-brick chimney of sorts to the single-room house, extending from one corner across the space to the opposite wall by the door. Because it matches the original chimney as much as the artist can muster and is as solid as can be, it seems like a natural addition — except of course for the awkward angle that'll force most visitors to limbo under it. With the beams across the ceiling and the vertical chimney cutting through it, it's a striking visual. Shim-Boyle has quite the eye. The artist isn't quite done, though. He's made a second, more minor alteration to the house, adding a thin line of fluorescent lights on the floor beneath his slanted chimney. In a room that's already brilliantly well-lit, with sun shining in through the bare windows, it seems like an unnecessary touch. But parallel to the brick addition, it helps to further emphasize this breathtaking presence in the house. Through June 23. 2513 Holman, 713-526-7662. — MD

"Shambhala" Shambhala is a Sanskrit word meaning a place of peace, happiness or tranquility. In the Buddhist tradition, it is paradise. It is also a meditation technique and, tellingly, the name of Paul Fleming's latest exhibition at Barbara Davis Gallery. In "Shambhala," Fleming fills the gallery with bright, sleek color as he creates wall installations composed of identically shaped resin-filled objects arranged in straight lines and subtle patterns. The main body of work is All my friends are here, which takes over the first half of the gallery across every available surface. Repeating blocks of pigmented resin are arranged in single file across the walls like some broken code of color samples, available in every color of the crayon box. Other installations sprawl across the wall in a controlled chaos. Fractured From the Fall is a massive piece that strikes the back wall, straight strips of hydrocol and resin crossing each other like a broken rainbow. Other pieces aren't as neat and exact. In Papillae, red-tipped cones radiate from a center, while Our Nature features blue objects that climb up the wall and onto the ceiling, like ornate thumbtacks mapping population demographics or the spread of a disease. Still other pieces emphasize connectivity, with each part making up a tightly wound whole as in These Subtle Agencies II, a punishing square made up of countless blue, green and purple pieces arranged in a flowing pattern. Between these tight grids and the loose, pixelated wall installations, there can be a lot of white space, and it all makes for a somewhat sparse show. There's not too much going on here for deep contemplation, just a lot of eye candy. Through June 1. 4411 Montrose, 713-520-9200. —MD

"Unwoven Light" Soo Sunny Park's installation at Rice Gallery is unapologetically pretty. It's a glistening, iridescent canopy of shimmering pinks, purples, blues, greens and yellows that resemble anything from a fish's scales to a spider's web wet with raindrops. Despite the apt comparisons, this creation is anything but organic. "Unwoven Light" is composed entirely of chain-link fence and coated Plexiglas that Park has exhaustingly shaped and welded together to create a network of abstract, bulbous shapes suspended from the ceiling. In fact, it took the artist and her assistants two weeks to make just one distinct unit — specifically, seven hours of welding to brace the fencing, 100 hours of tying the wire that holds each Plexiglas piece in place, and still more time cutting the Plexiglas shapes to fit into the chain-link cells. In all, there are 37 such units — 17 newly created for the installation and 20 recycled from a past work — that create patches of light throughout the gallery from floor to ceiling. However laborious its creation, "Unwoven Light" seems effortless, with light doing most of the work. Every step brings you a new combination of colors that reflect off the Plexiglas and bleed onto the walls and even the floor. There's no set path to follow, either, giving you the freedom to wander underneath and around the units in your own trance. There can be much to consider as you explore the work — about the properties of light and color, imposed boundaries and our perception of space — but it's also a pleasant experience that is, simply, joyful. Through August 30. 6100 Main, 713-348-6169. — MD

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