The Barbara Davis Gallery's exhibition of Alongside, a group showing of nine artists, is international indeed, with some Houston artists joined by artists from New York, Sweden, Denmark, and an Israeli-born artist now residing in Providence, RI.
Dominating the entrance room in the sleekly-modern gallery is a semi-rustic painting "Snowcanoes" (acrylic on canvas, 77x87") by Denmark's Mie Olise. It is a mixture of representational and abstract, as the artist's rich imagination balances the white snow with blue ice, and frames the canoes with upright poles that generate a sense of control. It is deeply involving, powerful, and rewarding.
Quieter and seemingly simpler in composition is New Yorker Robert Kelly's "Baltic Portal III", with a wide black bar at top, and underneath a green panel on the left and a beige panel on the right, though the beige panel elides into light tan at its right. Its directness has its own charm, and it is curiously soothing in its regularity and choice of pigments.
Houston's Paul Fleming has a site-specific work, "Borrowed Time", composed of hundreds of small, button-like circles, rising from the floor to the ceiling in a graceful journey, as though a flock of birds had taken flight. "Rising" is my positive interpretation, but it could equally well signify "Falling", or even an overhead view of pebbles in the snow. It is detailed, and intriguing.
Houston's Troy Stanley has a concrete collage, close to monochromatic, that moves at the top from lacelike filigree to more ponderous and rougher textures at its bottom, where a coating of concrete has been added. It is highly original, and courageous.
Houston's Ruth Shouval's "Breakthrough" consists of three large red circles piled one on another, angled toward the right, and not only reaching the ceiling, but overlapping onto it. It has elements of energy, but gives the impression of a rough sketch for a more finished work.
East Hampton's iconoclastic Matthew Satz, famed for his literal tar-and-feathers works, is showing "Untitled, Smoke Painting" (60x60"), where its complexity is in the fine detail. He suspends a painted canvas over rising smoke to allow the smoke to mix with the paint, and the result is abstract, yes, but also suggesting a feathery arena. Satz is ambitious in selecting his artistic challenges, and adept in achieving them, and merits his reputation as a pioneer intent on challenging the past. The result here is a stunning work-of-art. A smaller companion work (12x12") with the same title has less impact, perhaps because Satz's strength is thinking big.
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Houston's Joe Mancuso uses a vivid color to capture attention in "Ruby Bouquet", a globe mounted in a pedestal. The color struck me as bright cherry more than ruby, but there is no question about its vivacity. It is composed of hundreds of resin chips, and is irresistible in its appeal.
Sweden's Ditte Ejlerskov provides rich texture in a very original work, with two canvases interlaced and woven together, with the canvas below split into tassels. It is titled "The Baroque Tassel Painting" and marks Ejlerskov as a generous painter who gives her viewers a lot.
Israeli-born Yizhak Elyashiv provides ten panels of watercolors on paper, all part of one image, that must be seen from as far away as possible in the gallery. Close observation here is an error, because the detail is too rich, but seen from afar, the work delivers the impact of a mountainous landscape, with branches overhead in the central foreground. It has echoes of Japanese work, and communicates a sense of a land isolated, but strong and patient, awaiting its destiny.
Alongside continues through July 3, Barbara Davis Gallery, 4411 Montrose, open Tuesdays through Fridays, 10:30 to 5:30, and Saturdays 11 to 5:30, 713-520-9200, barbaradavisgallery.com.