"In Residence: Work by 2012 Resident Artists" Unlike a university's commencement festivities, "In Residence: Work by 2012 Resident Artists." is no corps of hundreds crossing the stage; instead, it's an intimate celebration of the creative efforts of six well-deserving and highly talented artists. Each year, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft selects a small number of artists to participate in its residency program. These residents work in the gallery for three to 12 months with the medium of their choice, creating a collection to be shown the following year. Clay, metal, jewelry-making and fiber were the favorites of this year's inductees, three of whom hail from Houston. Tarina Frank is a Houston artist and high school teacher who morphs metals and plastics into jewelry. Drawing on inspiration from the instant-gratification culture created by the proliferation of social media, her pieces display the best in social-media communication quips, e.g., "In a Relationship" or "It's Complicated." Her Paper Fan Rings series brings together elements of silver, nickel, brass, copper and paper (wood) to create movable rings. Each ring starts out as a piece of paper folded into the shape of a miniature Chinese lantern. Curved nickel, brass or copper is then affixed to each side of the little "lanterns." One flick of the finger and these lanterns spin, becoming baubles "full of kinetic potential." Rachelle Vasquez and Susan Fletcher King are also Houstonians. Additionally, the two are graduates of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts who both work with fiber. The similarities don't stop there: Both artists create works from this fiber that revolve around animal life. Go over each piece with a fine-tooth comb, however, and the differences appear: Vasquez stitches together colorful tapestries, while King creates quilts. Vasquez's When Winkie Comes Marching Home, despite its quirky name, is a traditional quilt with bright colors and the character of "Winkie" in the middle. In contrast, Schooling from the Jellies, made with commercial and hand-painted cotton fabric, silk and cotton threads; transparent acrylic paints; foil; and yarn, is a dark tapestry of jellyfish with a school of regular fish swimming through their ranks. It's sweet in its play on words, but scary in that the fish don't know their fatal fate. Jaydan Moore is similar to Frank in that he creates jewelry with metal; however, instead of shiny tributes to digitalia, he romanticizes found objects. Sediment/Sentiment is a rustic cylindrical piece made from "found materials." Intricate swirls are engraved in the piece. Because of this detail, Sediment/Sentiment is miraculous in its ability to look like two things: From one angle, it's a lovely bracelet; from the other, it resembles a crown. Robert Thomas Mullen is another jewelry maker. His accessories use wood, resulting in nature-inspired pieces that reflect his surroundings. As the Illinois native is currently in Houston, How I See/Saw Houston is a replication of the downtown skyline made with — what else? — Texas ebony, brass and cubic zirconia. The last is puzzling, though; why not a diamond? Better yet — since the city is part of a booming oil industry — an image of a well? Oil well, that is. Black gold. Texas tea. Through September 29. 4848 Main, 713-529-4848. — AO

"Late Surrealism" Mark Rothko. Jackson Pollock. They're not the usual suspects you'd associate with Surrealism, but they're some of the biggest names in The Menil Collection's current show "Late Surrealism." Though they're known for their groundbreaking abstract work, as the Menil exhibition shows, pigeonholing artists can be tricky business. And during the 1930s and '40s, artists working in America were influenced by surrealists as the art capital shifted from Paris to New York. Curator Michelle White has pulled together 14 artists and 26 pieces from the museum's holdings for the compact show. There are paintings as well as collages, assemblages, works on paper and sculptures created during for the most part the '30s and '40s on display. All together, the works demonstrate what White describes as a "push-pull" between Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism. It's in the mysterious figures in one of Pollock's paintings — not one of his trademark splatter jobs, but one depicting animal-like monsters that are slightly nightmarish. Unnamed, this lack of any clue further adds to its mystery. This push-pull is also evident in Rothko's Red Abstract, a blood-red dreamscape composed of figures that resemble birds and a spade. Other works are strange and slightly goofy. Two Max Ernst sculptures — standing bronze pieces — both feature faces. In one, La plus belle (The Most Beautiful One), the eyes are slightly lopsided above a wide grin. In the other, Asperges de la lune (Lunar Asparagus), the face seems to be splintered — the eyes on one pole, the mouth on the other. Joan Miró's Oeuf (galant ovale) also depicts a face — this one curiously, humorously unhappy — on a ceramic piece made convincingly to look like a rock. There's more to admire — pieces that primarily explore the human body in ink and charcoal that are all experimental in form — in what's an eye-opening, fascinating show on a fascinating period. Through August 25. 1533 Sul Ross, 713-525-9400. — MD

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