Capsule Art Reviews: "35 Years: Anniversary Exhibition," "Dante Marioni: Recent Glass Works," "Joe Mancuso: Trace," "Richard Serra: Weight and Level"
"35 Years: Anniversary Exhibition" Moody Gallery is 35! Packed with gallery artists, the anniversary show is like a big, riotous family reunion where all the crazy cousins showed up and brought art instead of a covered dish. Among the offerings, Michael Bise has a naked portrait of himself hooked up to an IV, Al Souza has one of those massive puzzle "paintings" and Mary McCleary presents one of her obsessive collages. Terry Allen's sculpture includes a neon-wrapped taxidermied coyote. Bill Steffy's contribution is a weighty little silver skull — a Mayan-fueled Damian Hirst smackdown. Betty Moody is one of those rare gallery owners who inspire a fanatically loyal following amongst both collectors and artists. Somebody ought to give her a medal. Through October 16. 2815 Colquitt, 713-526-9911. — KK
"Dante Marioni: Recent Glass Works" This show offers up some pretty great glass vessels. Unlike glass celebrity Dale Chihuly — who makes interesting sculpture if your point of departure is a salad bowl, but really mediocre work in the context of contemporary sculpture — Dante Marioni focuses on making gorgeous vessels that don't try to pretend to be something they aren't. His black, red-trimmed vases have an ancient Greece vibe to them and are as slender as stilettos. The same strong colors appear in Marioni's Red in Black Vessel Display (2007). A three-shelf black display box is filled with ruby-red vases sporting curving handles, arcing arms and ball-like appendages. It's a visually stunning piece, and the vessels read like a cast of animated characters. Through October 22. Wade Wilson Art, 4411 Montrose, 713-521-2977. — KK
"Joe Mancuso: Trace" Flowers are the subject matter of this show, a fact that may repel cynical art types even as it attracts herds of decorators. But those harboring flowers-in-art prejudices should set them aside — this is the best stuff I've seen from Mancuso, who is always a solid artist. The main gallery is beautifully installed with a series of large cutout flower shapes with layers of flat petals. The low-relief pieces are made from wood and finished in a variety of ways, with watery whitewashes or thick, opaque layers of glossy-white latex. Many of the pieces are coated with some sort of matte acrylic medium, creating a waxy-looking surface that is hard not to want to touch. Perhaps the most striking pieces are Mancuso's linear flower sculptures, one a loose bouquet and the other a single bloom. The works are like large, 3D line drawings, and the shadows they cast look like drawings in themselves. The chalky white wood reminds me of some of Cy Twombly's more linear sculptures using plaster and gesso on wood. Like Twombly's, Mancuso's works are the sculptures of a painter who is more intrigued by two dimensions than three, but unlike most Twombly sculpture, Mancuso's works feel effortlessly elegant and unpretentious. Through October 9. Barbara Davis Gallery, 4411 Montrose, 713-520-9200. — KK
"Richard Serra: Weight and Level" and "Houston, can you hear me?" Richard Serra's etchings at Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery are as dark and richly textured as a layer of fresh asphalt. Serra is best known for his massive, minimalist steel sculptures. But working with the inimitable Gemini G.E.L., Serra has created large, deeply etched plates that seemingly hold ink like a sponge as their rough surface embosses the paper. Each print is an expansive sheet of black that reveals a slim horizon line of white paper along its top, marked by tiny dark flecks. Etching has never been high on my list of "stuff that makes cool prints," but Richard Serra's etchings have shattered my printmaking prejudices. Also check out Hana Hillerova's brightly colored starburst-like maquettes made for "Houston, can you hear me?" an upcoming project at Intercontinental Airport Terminal A. Made from laser-cut powder-coated steel, they're hung up high in the gallery's entry and are a nice preview of Hillerova's public art project. Through October 7. 4520 Blossom, 713-863-7097. — KK
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