Capsule Art Reviews: "Andreas Nottebohm: Into the Light," "Howard Sherman: In my mind, you're inflatable," "Ornament as Art: Avant-Garde Jewelry from the Helen Williams Drutt Collection," "Will Boone: A Man's House Is His Coffin"
"Andreas Nottebohm: Into the Light" Andreas Nottebohm's tinted and engraved raw metal surfaces walk a line between art and novelty. Like those computer-generated stereograms that require forced optical distortion to make out the hidden three-dimensional forms, Nottebohm's works can induce dizziness and vertigo if you stare at them too long. By meticulously scratching flat sheets of raw metal, Nottebohm creates clearly demarcated 3-D zones that penetrate and project from the surface. Some pieces have an almost liquid feel; the surface ripples as you move around it. Into the Light #11 features a central 3-D triangle hovering over horizontal bars. The shimmering metal reflects the gallery's multicolored lighting — dimmers can be adjusted to achieve the right palette. A series of four panels depicts targets, almost like 3-D versions of Jasper Johns's iconic works. It's impossible to resist taking a close look, as if to reassure oneself that the surfaces are actually flat. But spellbinding as they may be, the pieces tend to repeat their effects, and their initial thrill ebbs. Nottebohm's technique is outstanding, though. The possibilities are exciting. Through February 16. New Gallery, 2627 Colquitt, 713-520-7053. — TS
"Howard Sherman: In my mind, you're inflatable" Like abstract scenes from a red-light district, Howard Sherman's paintings reflect an undercover world of commodity. In bright color and dynamic, angular and broadly layered coverage, Sherman depicts a delightfully garish and confrontational urban conflict. It's impossible to know the narrative, but sometimes Sherman supplies a character that we can glom onto while his intangible tornado blows through town. Judging from some of the titles, like Paralytic Hooker, Titanium Dildo and Donkey Punching Bastards, the "inflatable" Sherman imagines must be of the female variety found at adult bookstores. Sometimes it's possible to make out a commanding image, like the phallic one in Colossal Jerk. But here's where the paintings' titles influence what we perceive, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's interesting to imagine them untitled. Sherman has peppered these works with little repeated motifs, like syringes, that nail down the environment. It feels mythic, too, like that place doesn't really exist anymore. It bleeds Lower East Side, Manhattan, circa 1981. Through February 16. McMurtry Gallery, 3508 Lake, 713-523-8238. — TS
"Ornament as Art: Avant-Garde Jewelry from the Helen Williams Drutt Collection" This show includes approximately 300 works from the 1960s to the present. The artists in the Drutt collection approach jewelry as an art object, with ideas taking precedence over the intrinsic value of the materials used. Jewelry started getting avant-garde in the 1960s, when even the likes of Alexander Calder, Lucio Fontana and Salvador Dalí, far better known for their sculptures and paintings, made forays into the realm of jewelry. German artist Gerd Rothmann's work has a slightly surreal bent, in particular his gold casts of Helen Drutt's nose (1994) and index finger (2000). Other works have a more minimalist bent. Dutch artist Gijs Bakker's blue Möbius loop bracelet (1967-69) in anodized aluminum is simple and elegant. Some of the work has an edgy, body-oriented focus, with things that are cool sculptural objects but not especially geared for wearablity. British artist Caroline Broadhead's 1983 woven nylon monofilament necklace is otherworldly, extending up to veil the wearer's face. Contemporary jewelry isn't exactly a field many people know a lot about, and Helen Williams Drutt has been a pioneering educator as well as a collector. Cindi Strauss, MFAH curator of Modern and Contemporary Decorative Arts and Design and the curator of the exhibition, threw herself into the subject matter, and the exhibition, four years in the making, is impressive. Through January 27. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 5601 Main, 713-639-7300. — KK
"Will Boone: A Man's House Is His Coffin" The use of "House," not "Home," is on purpose – there's a difference between a physical address and the feeling of belonging that comes with a true home. A wandering soul, Will Boone takes his sense of belonging with him as he embarks on a tour of American counterculture in the 21st century. Boone's artwork exists where indie rock, emo and noise meet art, drugs and hip-hop; it brings to mind late-night house parties and disillusion. His text paintings reveal a decidedly pessimistic worldview: In one work, gothic Old English lettering spells out THIS PLACE SUCKS. In another, called Ferocious Guest, hand-drawn letters tell a hilarious, crushing tale. In other works, Boone uses found imagery in awkward, simplified ink drawings that conjure the album covers and flyers of Raymond Pettibon. Will Boone's ink drawings and paintings are a reminder that home is where you find yourself — the mosh-pit mayhem of My War and the macho posturing of Live Long Nothing are icons of American life, as readable as the signs in a restaurant window. Through January 18. Domy Books, 1709 Westheimer, 713-523-3669. — SC
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