Capsule Art Reviews: "BIG LECTRIC FAN TO KEEP ME COOL WHILE I SLEEP", "Katy Heinlein: Project Space, " "Sasha Pierce: New Paintings" and "John Sparagana: The Crisis Professionals", "Carlos Runcie-Tanaka: Fragmento"
"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
"Katy Heinlein: Project Space, " "Sasha Pierce: New Paintings" and "John Sparagana: The Crisis Professionals" CTRL Gallery has three, count 'em, three great shows at once. Sasha Pierce's paintings are amazing. At first, they seem like they're made from pieces of nubby, striped upholstery fabric cut and glued to the canvas at oblique angles. But looking very, very closely, you realize the fabric "threads" are skeins of paint, almost microscopically extruded from plastic bags like icing and done so precisely they can be mistaken for machine weaving. Wow. Meanwhile, John Sparagana's collages need their own microscope. Working from issues of the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, Sparagana takes multiple copies of the same article and wears down the surfaces, making them pliable like fabric. He then cuts them into impossibly narrow strips, collaging them all together to create enlarged but indistinct versions of the original articles. The results are hazy and ghostlike, like a memory you can't quite place. In the project room, Katy Heinlein presents two new fabric-based sculptures. Heinlein doesn't stuff fabric — she drapes it, stretches it or suspends it. Her work references the ties, gathers, panels and hems of fashion. For Bow-bow (2009), a long, pink band extends through an arc of brown polyester jersey, gathering the fabric up in what looks like a wedgie. Heinlein's work is moving in an interesting new direction, with her sculptures becoming less contained and expanding out from themselves. Through October 31. 3907 Main, 713-523-2875. — 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
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