Capsule Art Reviews: "Anthony Thompson Shumate: Cocky," D-17, "Eduardo Gil: Extra"
"Anthony Thompson Shumate: Cocky" When you're an artist, people offer you all kinds of comments on and advice about your work, something they would never think of doing to, say, an accountant. Anthony Thompson Shumate decided to use those remarks as fodder for his show "Cocky" at Barbara Davis Gallery. Shumate created a host of works based on and titled after specific quotes, like "Why don't you get a real job?" or "Why can't you paint a fucking rooster? Everybody likes roosters!" or "Can't you make it bigger? How does it look in red?" Until you know this, you'll undoubtedly wonder why stuff like a tie, roosters and a urinal are together in one show. The coolest object — "You know I've seen a piece like that before. Do you even know art history?" — is the urinal. Rather than just signing it, à la Duchamp, Shumate "pimped his urinal" with a thick coat of automotive paint and pin striping. How cocky. Through December 31. 4411 Montrose, 713-520-9200. — KK
D-17 Initially I resisted Sarah Oppenheimer's D-17 at the Rice University Art Gallery. I found the installation — a white-and-silver-edged, aluminum-and-wood structure that spans the gallery space, then moves through its glass walls, over the foyer and out over the entrance — slightly cryptic and a bit too cool. But once I came to appreciate its subtle complexity and impressive craft, the way the artist used the project to alter the notoriously difficult space and the very fact that this installation came to exist at all made up for what it lacks in more obvious charms. It is clear that in coming up with her solution to the spatial problems that Rice Gallery presents, Oppenheimer had to push the conceptual boundaries of her own work. She did what I am sure many other artists who have shown in that space have wanted to do: break out of the building altogether. The artist's aim with D-17 is to mimic light as it beams through the transom over the gallery's entrance, then continues through the foyer and into the gallery. The installation reconfigures the gallery, which resembles nothing so much as a shoebox awaiting its natural-history diorama. D-17 changes this with a physicality that is hard to ignore (one must duck where the "light's" angle cuts low to the ground) and represents an ingenious use of various spatial and visual dimensions. As an engineering marvel and as a concept, D-17 is a must-see. Although the gallery is not open at night, the work can be seen through the front of the building, and this view of the piece is without doubt the most breathtaking. It's a pity that this sight isn't on view on a busy thoroughfare, as its transformation in the evening is spectacular. Through December 5. 6100 Main, 713-348-6069. — LL
"Eduardo Gil: Extra" In old newsreels, newspapers would dramatically spin into the frame, their headlines announcing an event in 144-point type. This convention inspired the work in Eduardo Gil's show "Extra" at Sicardi Gallery. Mounted high along the walls in the gallery are a series of flat-mounted newspapers with headlines proclaiming war. The newspaper panels are attached to fan motors and apparently spin alternately and intermittently. It sounds like a cool effect, but they were all still when I visited the gallery — apparently there were issues with some of the mechanisms becoming unbalanced. Also part of the show is a spiraling wooden structure viewers walk into in the middle of a gallery. It's papered with copies of newspapers announcing the end of American wars from the Revolutionary War in 1782 to the Gulf War in 1992, arranged chronologically as you move through the spiral. The papers are bordered by the repeating headlines: "WAR ENDS." The material is interesting, but the execution of the piece feels a little too much like a high school class project. The show as a whole, however, is a potent visual reminder of the ebb and flow of human conflict as well as the changing face of war. An unequivocal headline like "WAR ENDS" seems like a thing of the past. Through December 23. 2246 Richmond, 713-529-1313. — KK
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