Art Capsule Reviews

"Allison Hunter: New Animals" "New Animals" is a continuation of Allison Hunter's "Simply Stunning" series, which showed at New York's 511 Gallery last year. The Houston-based photographer's recent work concentrates largely on animals, and the images reflect a progression toward emancipating creatures from the worldly environment. Sheep and deer inhabit pinkish-gray realms that resemble threatening desert sandscapes, and yet the animals' tameness and passivity feel amplified, more so than if they were depicted in a natural setting. Some photos feature lone animals encased in blackness, like Untitled 10, in which a sole chicken, brightly illuminated by an unknown source, stalks the ground for food against almost invisible traces of its farm environment. In Untitled 7, a miniature horse proudly sports its red saddle (unencumbered by screaming children, maybe?) below a starless void. The effect is a kind of Usher Syndrome -- a condition in which the deaf develop an encroaching blindness -- of nature and logic, except in Hunter's world circumstances aren't in disorder. On the contrary, the animals seem right at home in their non-universe. Though August 17. MKG Art Management, 2825 Colquitt, 713-526-4146.

DiverseWorks: J Hill's Sound Installations You can hear the Sonny Liston/Muhammad Ali fight in the bathroom at DiverseWorks. It's part of an ongoing series of sound installations by artist J Hill in the art space's two public bathrooms. Hill dotted the walls and ceiling of the bathroom with speakers, transforming the toilet environment. For the first bathroom, Hill recorded himself at home watching the classic fight. In the background are domestic noises such as water running in the kitchen sink. You could hog the bathroom and listen to the whole match. The second bathroom includes sounds such as a teakettle boiling, birds chirping and, possibly, morning cartoons in the background. Hill is creating a kind of cozy intimacy not generally associated with public toilets as he lets bathroom patrons eavesdrop on his life. His sound installations run through May. 1117 East Freeway, 713-223-8346.

"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.


"Allison Hunter: New Animals"

"Transformation 5: Contemporary Works in Found Materials" Whether it's the transformation of utilitarian objects into sculpture or fabric scraps into a quilt, the allure of "found" art lies in seeing a new value, perspective or form emerge from the ordinary, the banal. "Transformation 5" is a juried exhibition of 30 artists who competed for the prestigious Elizabeth R. Raphael Founders Prize, which recognizes excellence in the field of contemporary craft. The show includes decorative pieces, like Sharon McCartney's series of fabric collages, which overlap mostly green and gray tones and feel very countrified with their recurring bird imagery and lacy edges. There's also wonderful kitsch, like two "robot" sculptures: Toby A. Fraley's Feather Flite Robot and Linda and Opie O'Brien's The Emperor's Scribe. Fraley's is the more space-age one, with its jet-pack and halogen-light head and body made from discarded vacuum pieces. The O'Briens equip their (explicitly male) robot with an open-door torso filled with bric-a-brac: an old aspirin tin, printing blocks, tinker toys and pencils. The abstract pieces on display represent the best of the exhibit, because they demonstrate how fully and mysteriously these everyday objects can be manipulated. Amy Lipshie's Tomb, a strange, four-foot-tall sculpture resembling a foot, was made with woven strips of cereal boxes, beads, nylon thread and varnish. Rainbow-colored, it changes with the spectrum as one circles it. Most audacious is Parable by Jerry Bleem. The stretched and twisted hollow form has been covered in art magazine ads and then encased in staples from top to bottom. The outside emits a metallic gleam while the inside sparkles like quartz crystals. Through June 17 at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, 4848 Main, 713-529-4848.

"Vincent Falsetta: New Works" Vince Falsetta's paintings at Anya Tish Gallery look like they were done on a Motel 6 vibrating bed. They're filled with tiny, wavering, multicolored strokes of paint that create optically reverberating lines of color. Falsetta creates them by -- get this -- painstakingly painting the end of his brush with tiny strokes of different color. With little shaking movements Falsetta bobs the brush across a couple inches of canvas until the color runs out and then repeats the process, over and over and over again. It's a technique that is both anal and obsessive-compulsive, and the effect is pretty cool. In a couple of the paintings, the line compositions don't hold up as well as they should, but CP 06-02 is the standout. It makes you feel like the whole room is vibrating. Through May 19. Anya Tish Gallery, 4411 Montrose, 713-524-2299.


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