City Glow Self-styled Pop Art star Chiho Aoshima emerged out of the "factory" art group founded in Tokyo in the late '90s by Takashi Murakami. Her computer-generated images reference manga comics and anime cartoons, with wide-eyed characters and line drawings. Like Murakami, Aoshima believes in the contributions pop genres have made to the art world at large. Tucked away underground in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Chiho Aoshima's installation City Glow (2005) sits behind a cafe and next to the escalators. Don't feel bad for her, though: James Terrell's The Light Inside tunnel and Damien Hirst's installation End Game are good company in the basement. The cyclical piece is told through a five-screen animated video of telescoping layers that comments on deteriorating climate conditions. Plants, animals and anthropomorphic skyscrapers grow, bloom and die throughout the course of the seven-minute piece, perhaps predicting the death of civilization as the balanced world of the opening scenes mutates into a nightmare apocalypse set in a blood-red graveyard. Highly recommended for Nipponophiles or anyone bored with painting and sculpture. Through September 29. 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7300.
"Ìs" The gallery at 4411 Montrose seems colder than ever this summer; Libbie Masterson has brought a breath of Icelandic air to the Gulf Coast at the perfect time. A painter and sculptor in previous incarnations, the artist lately has focused on photography, presenting her images as illuminated light-boxes. Many of the singular works here are wall-mounted, but a large installation of 13 panels in the center of the gallery breaks out of the flat plane more ambitiously, encompassing the viewer with nearly 360 degrees of imagery photographed in a barren sea of broken ice floes. The isolation of Iceland's Arctic environment is palpable. Masterson's imagery seems to have caught up with her imaginative presentation; unlike previous shows, this one is both aesthetically pleasing and political. The work explores the current climate scare; ironically, these beautiful light-boxes depicting Arctic glaciers are burning fuel as they emit light. As we grow into this 21st century, the intricacies and hypocrisies of our relationship to climate change are ever evident we can only hope that Masterson's observations are not just memories in a decade or two. Through June 16. Barbara Davis Gallery, 713-520-9200.
"Jason Young" Jason Young has some ridiculously lush work on view at Wade Wilson Art. Young uses the hell out of translucent resin, creating paintings coated with slab-like layers of the stuff. For his current work, Young poured it over a background of crumpled metallic foil-like material. Light passes through the resin, tinted in arctically cool blues, greens and purples, and reflects off the underlying material. The effect is otherworldly, like the view from inside a glacier; the paintings feel like they are one the verge of shattering into crystalline shards. Through May 31. Wade Wilson Art, 4411 Montrose Blvd., 713-521-2977.
Houston art galleries
"LU" It sure is nice to see so much work by Paul Kittelson these days. The group show "LU" at the ArtCar Museum presents several of the artist's great works from the past two years. Kittelson has cast a truck in papier-mch; it stands perilously, thanks to the good graces of a small wooden armature. This wry inversion sets the tone of the rest of his work, whether it's life-size or super-size. Several six-foot cigarettes, a gigantic kernel of popcorn and other sculptures dominate the main gallery. These works converse with Carter Ernst's giant housefly-obsessed art. Ernst's largest fly eyes an oversize powdered doughnut by Kittelson; drawings of flies line the walls behind sculptures of various materials. In the back gallery, a collection of encaustic paintings by Deborah Moore demonstrate the versatility of the marginalized medium once favored by Jasper Johns. Visitors can also view the exhibit of stereoscopic images by Jan Burandt, a nostalgic drawing by David Kidd, Abu Ghraib puppet torture dioramas by Mary Jenewein and a video of Dune Patten in blackface outside the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. But don't just look for art in the galleries you can also peruse the parking lot for fresh art cars. Through July 22. 140 Heights Blvd., 713-861-5526.
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"Suspended Glances" This exploration of fractured narratives is the first exhibit organized by aspiring curator Merriann Bidgood, and this weathered warehouse space holds her concept together delicately. With small works and a large space, the show has a light physical presence, but the touching and personal work of each artist commands attention. Eric Pearce just can't help himself when it comes to illustrating scenes of Michael J. Fox from Teen Wolf his colored-pencil screen-captures look remarkably like celluloid film. Graphic designer Ray Ogar, who has collected stickers for years, cathartically digests them here on simple cardboard grounds. Martha Terrill collages together newspaper and magazine images of birds, butterflies and bits of text into slick, vintage-looking compositions that are masterfully prepared. On the other end of the spectrum, Tobin Becker lets his emotion bleed through in collaged, violent canvasses scrawled over with his own writings. Recent UH graduate Laura Bennett obsesses over identity in her midsize photographs of people wearing masks. They aren't as powerful as the more physical boxes and installations she has done in the past, but her photography still casts a strong, doubtful eye on the superficial world. Through June 10. Commerce Street Artists' Warehouse, 2315 Commerce St.