Capsule Art Reviews: August 21, 2014

 "Aloe Vera: group show" Gray Contemporary is a new gallery in the Houston Design Center, large, high-ceilinged and beautifully air-conditioned. Several paintings are quite bright and colorful, with Shape Study 8 (Three Sides), by Christopher Derek Bruno, the most intriguing. It has four three-dimensional vertical square pillars, with the front panel of each white, but each side panel colored and different; it's a work meant to be viewed from several angles, suggesting a cheerful artist at play. Nathan Westerman shows three colorful circles, consisting of multicolored, horizontal stripes. All seem similar, but one pops out, Slat Painting 014.005, which has a yellow stripe in the top half that makes all the difference in the world. Dmitri Obergfell has an apparently simple mosaic, Crystal plane (penrose), which turns out to be complex and fascinating. It has a trompe l'oeil effect, as it is composed of scores of individual metal tiles, each anchored to the wall, but the spaces between, which are open, seem to be the metal framework one would see in a stained-glass window. The individual tiles form boxes, creating a series of optical illusions; it is the work of a wizard, magical. Deborah Zlotsky's The Artist is complex, with central grays and peripheral blues and orange, and structurally an interlocking of an irregularly shaped cube, rectangles and curves added to soften the impact. It has intelligence and rich composition. Douglas Witmer has a number of works, with The Hour Grows Late most accessible, made up of two deep-blue broad horizontal stripes against a grayish-white background, seemingly worn on the edges — as though time had passed and a lot had happened. Through September 15. 7026 Old Katy Rd., Suite 253, 713-862-4425, — JJT

"The Beat'n Trail" It's wonderful to enter a gallery and be struck immediately by a powerful work, my experience with an exhibition of Texas artists at the Alliance Gallery of the Houston Arts Alliance. The striking visual is a sculpture by Katie Pell titled Charming Are Your Unformed Wishes, a number of large wooden links, some curled on the floor, others interlocking and rising to the ceiling, to be continued even there. It was inspired by a family heirloom, a locket, and it gains enormously by its size. The wood is warm, making the links an ornament instead of a chain, and its immensity suggests a generosity of spirit and a richly expansive personality. George Zupp has a fabulous sense of humor that carries through into his art. He has a large wooden sculpture of a man in a casket, rough-hewn and open at the top to show the man's zombie-like face. It is also open below the waist to permit a large wooden column to protrude upward, unrealistically large, with a hatchet buried in its top. The work is titled, appropriately, The Last Woody, and has the primitive strength of folk art. Zupp has created a continuing character, a chimp, and the portrait of it here is titled Jolly Chimp, though the lettering over its head reads "Fail." The chimp is holding clashing cymbals, and has a wide-eyed air of rapt attention, as though trying to figure out a concept beyond its capacity to grasp. Zupp has several other works here as well, priced modestly. Other artists showing are Kenny Lantz, Steve Neves, Vachu Chilakamarri and Meredith "Butch" Jack. Through August 29. 3201 Allen Parkway, Suite 125, 713-581-6120, — JJT

"lntroducing Elizabeth Fox" The d.m. allison gallery is dedicated to the exploration of emerging talent, as well as serving as a venue for established artists. Its group show features the works of Elizabeth Fox, whose paintings have a sprightly, highly contemporary look. The men are all fit and the women slender, with great anatomies, made clear by tight-fitting garments. Fox has a dry, subtle wit — Wish You Were Here has an attractive, mature couple in front of a birdhouse on a tree, with flying love birds and apparent domestic tranquility, while a streaming banner gives the woman's actual sardonic thought: "omg not another walk of I could just." She is dying with amusement at the folly of men. Mystery Train has a woman putting her attaché case in the overhead rack while four men in a row, wearing suits and fedora hats, read newspapers, though two are secretly watching her. If the men give her any trouble, I have no doubt she can handle it. Jesse Lott is an African-American sculptor of great distinction who works with armatures and wire while building in the capacity for emotional power. His sculpture here dominates the gallery, presenting a man overcome with anguish. One artist, living under a bridge, offers his name as Hercules da Vinci. His Hollywood Hills, oil on a paper napkin, has a charming and subtle blend of colors, some figurative birds, and an insouciant cheerfulness that many might envy. Ann Harithas has a deceptively simple picture, an orange plane against a blue background, with a cowboy, and a tortured monk holding a football, a work as enigmatic as consciousness itself. Though August 30. 2709 Colquitt, 832-607-4378, — JJT

Peter Zelle’s Ocean Sonata sings of the beauties of the shore
Courtesy of Zoya Tommy Contemporary.
Peter Zelle’s Ocean Sonata sings of the beauties of the shore

"Marta Chilindron & Graciela Hasper: Dialogues" The Sicardi Gallery has paired two artists, one born in Montevideo and the other in Buenos Aires, who share an interest in creating colorful, vibrant art, though they are not collaborators with each other. Graciela Hasper works with acrylics on canvas to create wall art, and Marta Chilindron uses colored, transparent acrylic to build flexible sculptures. A 2014 piece (Hasper doesn't title her art) has cascading, transparent planes of different colors, some square, some rectangular, along with cubes and rectangles. It has enormous power and energy, and seems orderly as well as chaotic. Another 2014 work has a variety of transparent colored squares, with those at the upper level smaller, conveying the impression that the squares are hurtling toward the viewer. The sensation of movement is vivid, and the energy palpable. Chilindron's Orange Circle 12 is composed of ten orange, transparent acrylic elements of various shapes hinged together and placed on the floor. The result is highly original, a novel architectural shape, like an alien's calling card. My favorite among Chilindron's works is also monochromatic, Spiral 7. The transparent blue elements are each the same size, so it can collapse into quite a small space, but it's shown here partly "unfurled," creating a sense of growth and energy. If it were fully opened, who knows what miracles might occur. Cube 12 Multicolor is 12"x12"x12", but can expand to an enormous width as desired; there were too many panels to count. 9 Trapezoids has transparent panels of various colors. Their rich variety suggests adventure and drama, with the purple panel promising passion — a full life. Through August 30. 1506 West Alabama, 713-529-1313, — JJT

Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help

I keep coming back to study these pictures over and over. For those of you who think that they are boring, try this--take the title of each piece of art & try to figure out why he named it that. This has added to my fun & pleasure of these treasures. Examples- look at Self Portrait & at Tandem. Truthfully, on some, I have no idea what he is talking about with the words or phrases he uses but I'm having so much fun (truly -- no sarcasm) looking up the words to try to understand what he is showing in the painting. It's like a puzzle! Some commenters much smarter than me have offered information about the background art & books. Thank you for adding to my fun! For those of you who say it is merely technique & nothing more, who else does this? I keep coming back to the realization that the reason he paints the crumpled tin foil is because he can. Can you do that? Could you take, say, a piece of clear shrink wrap and crumple it and perfectly reproduce it on a blank canvas? !!the artist is lying. there is NO WAY thats acrylic! its impossible! until i see him paint, i refuse to believe it. nobody is that good.

" True art is an interpretation of life,....not an exact reproduction." Firstly his IS an interpretation of life. That you can’t see it doesn’t diminish his work. Second. So when a classically trained musician strives to exactly reproduce the beautiful music written some composer they respect. They are not a musician, they are a technician? Or could it be that their care and exacting nature are their form of artistic expression I agree on style, its not impressionist style. What I meant by that was in philosophy as opposed to style. Monet and other impressionists looked at the same scene as every passerby, but they saw a different beauty in the same scene and that is what drove them to paint in the style they did. I suspect de Graaf sees something more in the everyday as well. He doesn’t see just a bunch of strawberries sitting on aluminum foil. He sees the beauty of the curves, the unique but repetitive nature of the seed patterns, and the contrast of the reds against the green leaves. The beauty, for him, is in the details of the items he paints. He doesn’t see them the same way everyday people do. The act of strict fidelity, which others seem to see as a weakness, tells you something about his personality and his respect and care for the world around him. I believe he probably feels a bit humbled by the beauty he finds and demands perfection out of respect for that which he finds awe inspiring.

 They did it in sculptures...weird? Actually if you look at most sc.