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"The Ornamental Plumb Bob" A plumb bob isn't something you'd usually see on display to admire. The typically acorn-shaped weight is used behind the scenes, by the likes of carpenters, architects and artists, to note the verticality of a surface. It's rarely seen as a work of art in and of itself. Gary Schott begs to differ, though. The San Antonio metalsmith has a new series on display in the solo show "The Ornamental Plumb Bob" at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft that asks you to admire the plumb bob for its aesthetic contributions. More than a dozen plumb-bob weights line the center's artist hall, suspended from the walls in between the artist studios. Historically, these weights have taken the form of anything from fruits and vegetables to nautical designs and the standard acorn. Schott favors the last, with weights that look like ice cream cones. They're painted bold colors and hang from decorative plaques of varying shapes, sizes and colors, like ornaments or earrings. Though they all serve the same purpose in the end, each one is unique. The cords the plumb bobs hang from also vary. Three weights in a row may hang at the same length, satisfyingly in sync, while others hang at different lengths, helping to highlight their differences. There's a rhythm and flow to the show, even if it's disrupted by the occasional door. The HCCC has a habit of exploring the functional versus the decorative purposes of items, and that doesn't get old. These tools are made with such precision and care, only to be used to make something else. But by giving plumb bobs their day in the sun, this exhibit lets you explore their simple beauty. Through July 27. 4848 Main, 713-529-4848. —MD

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