Capsule Art Reviews: "BIG LECTRIC FAN TO KEEP ME COOL WHILE I SLEEP", "Carlos Cruz-Diez: Crosswalk", "Carlos Runcie-Tanaka: Fragmento", "Second Seating"
"BIG LECTRIC FAN TO KEEP ME COOL WHILE I SLEEP" Wayne White's installation at Rice Gallery is stunning. White, widely known for his incredible sets and puppets for Pee-wee's Playhouse, is originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee. You can take the artist out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the artist. Who else would create a giant head of irredeemable drunk/country music legend George Jones? The massive noggin rests on its side, eyes rolling in its head. When you pull a rope, his jaw gapes open, a snore erupts and the smell of booze wafts out. The construction is amazing, but it's slickly funky in a Hollywood kinda way. While that kind of craftsmanship can somehow make it feel less sincere, kudos to anyone who sets out to create "the world's largest George Jones head." See it. Through October 18. 6100 Main, 713-348-6069. — KK
"Carlos Cruz-Diez: Crosswalk" You only have to drive past the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston to see some of the hippest public art in Houston. The 86-year-old Carlos Cruz-Diez, a pioneer of optically kinetic art, has created an amazing street installation for the MFAH's crosswalks along Bissonnet/Binz Street. Cruz-Diez's vibrant pattern of horizontal and diagonal lines overlays Houston's potholed and eroded asphalt streets with dynamic art. It makes you wonder why we don't do this to all of our crosswalks. The artist has created street installations before, but this is his first in the United States. The Venezuelan artist's work was one of the standouts in the MFAH's landmark survey of Latin American avant-garde art, "Inverted Utopias," and is included in the current MFAH exhibition "North Looks South," so you might want to park the car and head inside. Plus, they've got great air conditioning. Through December 31. 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7300. — KK
"Carlos Runcie-Tanaka: Fragmento" Runcie-Tanaka, a native of Peru with Japanese and British heritage, makes ceramic sculpture that integrates his many cultural influences — which are indeed indicative of Peru. According to the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, the works function as symbols of spiritual growth and interethnic unity. It's unfortunate that the museum's installation tries too hard to emphasize those aspects. The dark, solemn lighting is fine—one work, Tiempo Detenido, actually requires it (and it's used to great effect). But the cheesy Peruvian flute music that permeates the gallery detracts from the universal nature of the sculptures as objects, and beautiful ones. Huayco/Kawa/Rio is a series of spherical forms incorporating shards of broken pottery that references Japanese ceramics. Manto continues the fragment theme; it's a low glass case displaying a layer of pottery shards that have been haphazardly pieced back together interspersed with forms that look as if they were purposely slumped in the kiln. It's an interesting piece to consider, but it's loaded by its environment to suggest a spiritual mystery that somehow cheapens its fascination in chaos. You may find yourself, as I did, wandering around to find the source of those damn flutes. Through October 18. 1502 Alabama, 713-529-6900. — TS
"Second Seating" While the premise of the warehouse show "Second Seating" is more than just a little convoluted, there is something really appealing about its over-the-top, collaborative and decidedly baroque installations. Billed as offering an "intriguing look at Houston's historic East End through the lens of its industry," the exhibition presents a collection of overflowing dining tables topped by extravagantly surreal chandeliers. A surprisingly stunning, luminous concoction of filigreed bleach bottles hangs from the ceiling. It's lit from within and comes complete with disco ball. Assembled by exhibition organizer Mary Margaret Hansen, the bottles were cut by artist June Woest's students at Houston Community College Southwest. Meanwhile, the chandelier hanging over a decadent table spilling oyster shells was created by Hansen and Gonzo247, who spray-painted a big lamp shade with watery imagery. Elsewhere, beautifully crafted, piñata-style parrots by Victor James Rodriguez soar overhead, an homage to the feral parrots of the East End. There's plenty of work in the show that isn't especially successful, but the sheer exuberant bounty of the stuff makes it a glorious visual wallow — don't try to make sense of it, just enjoy it. While the show's elaborate logo may make it look like some kind of a charity fundraiser, the exhibition is supported by a 2009 project grant Hansen received from The Idea Fund. Through November 1. 22 North Chenevert, 832-622-5453. — KK
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