Art Capsule Reviews
"Ariane Roesch" Ariane Roesch is still in school at the University of Houston, but she's managing to put out some really interesting work. In her show at DeSantos Gallery, Roesch reprints and manipulates vintage photographs -- both personal and found. She uses threads, yarn and wires to physically create connections between the images' elements, drawing lines of sight and hearing. In one, orderly lines of men in suits walk down a street. Slender threads stitched into the photograph run from their ears and trail down into the sewer grate. Their ears to the gutter, the men march onward. Roesch's wit is sly and her work subtly provocative. Through March 10. 1724-A Richmond, 713-520-1200.
"Brooke Stroud: New Drawings" and "Michael Petry: In the Garden of Eden" There are two new exhibitions at Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery -- one is subtle, the other subtly subversive. Brooke Stroud's colored pencil drawings on gray cardboard have an Agnes Martin vibe to them. The cardboard looks like the kind of cheap stuff that backs a notepad, but Stroud makes it precious with careful horizontal lines of luminous color that cluster together and then spread out. Each piece is monochromatic, and the colors with more contrast work the best. In the main gallery, Michael Petry's "In the Garden of Eden" presents giant slabs of wood hanging from the ceiling, grouped like trees in a forest. They are cross-sections of various trees, with the bark edges intact. The trees -- lime, yew, chestnut -- are found in England, where the El Paso-born artist lives and works. With its beautiful, oiled surfaces, the wood has a low-key organic beauty, which is what the piece seems to be about -- until you notice the holes. A jar lid-size hole has been drilled into each plank. You could peer from one hole through to the others, but the holes aren't at eye height. The smooth, sanded and splinter-free openings are, ahem, at crotch height...uddenly, the exhibition's title takes on a whole new meaning. Through March 10. 4520 Blossom, 713-863-7097.
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.
"FOTO, New Photography from Denmark" FotoFest's exhibition of 39 Danish photographers is a big, sprawling group show with work that runs from okay to good. With some of the smallest images in the show, Inger Lise Rasmussen's work is also some of the strongest. Rasmussen uses photogravure, a vintage technique that works like etching. Printed on heavy paper, it can register rich tonal ranges. The technique lends itself to moody and romantic images, but Rasmussen's work is so effective because she does just the opposite. She photographs crisp, modernist architecture; an escalator angles up to a glass box of an office building, or a suited figure walks up seemingly infinite steps. By finding dynamic compositions and then printing them with a technique that creates beautiful, matte, papery tones, Rasmussen has taken images that could read as somewhat banal and formal and imbued them with visual richness and emotional depth. Through March 10 at FotoFest Headquarters, 1113 Vine St., 713-223-5522.
"Witnesses to a Surrealist Vision" A 1950s Hopi Kachina doll based on Mickey Mouse, a coconut seed that looks like a butt and a creepy-looking 18th- or 19th-century "Wildman" leather suit studded with leather spikes from the dark recesses of Germany or Switzerland are among the 133 objects coexisting in the intimate space of "Witnesses to a Surrealist Vision," an ongoing show at the Menil Collection. All of the objects in this exhibition were either owned by the surrealists or are similar to those that they collected, according to the exhibition text. And the 130 remaining objects are all equally weird. Tucked into a small, darkly lit room in the back of the Menil's permanent surrealist exhibition, "Witnesses" is a treasure trove of amazing, eclectic objects. It re-creates the idea of the Wunderkammer ("room of wonders"), a cabinet of curiosities -- natural and unnatural, real and fake. It's a wonderful insight into the surrealist vision, as well as a provocative juxtaposition of objects from all over the world, with an emphasis on works from Africa and Oceania. The tiny space is one of the jewels of the Menil Collection, but one you might forget about in the midst of all its temporary exhibitions. 1515 Sul Ross, 713-525-9400.
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