Capsule Art Reviews: "Danny Rolph — Accelerator," "Get a Rope," "Perspectives 165: Contents Under Pressure," "PRISMATTAK"
"Danny Rolph — Accelerator" Ostensibly, "Accelerator" is a kind of crash-'em-up homage to trucking culture and fast living. London-born Rolph's mixed-media pieces seem both to celebrate, and to caution against, gasoline-guzzling lifestyles. Fittingly, Rolph's surface material is Triplewall, clear, polycarbonate sheets used to protect windows and doors from hurricane-force winds and flying debris and still allow light to enter the interior. For each piece, Rolph creates a background image collage littered with pictures of 18-wheelers, vans, engines and other miscellaneous snippings. A layer of clear Triplewall is placed over the collage, and Rolph effects a collision of angular color shards in a variety of substances, creating the effect of a shattered, DayGlo windshield. One site-specific wall installation departs from the main theme and reflects a pop-culture and literary tour of the '50s and '60s. Book covers by Vladimir Nabokov, Truman Capote and Kingsley Amis, among others, float among photographs, random letters in a collegiate font, swaths of colored vinyl and wrapping paper that reads "Party Time." That particular detail might be a key to the big picture of this show, since viewed from a distance, the works resemble explosions of haphazardly cut confetti. Through March 14. Barbara Davis Gallery, 4411 Montrose, 713-520-9200. — TS
"Get a Rope" Named after that famous retort in the picante sauce commercials, "Get a Rope" pulls together nine New York City-based artists with varying connections to Houston. Curator Cathy Grayson specifically chose artists whose work bears an immediate and often sexually charged directness, the kind of perspective, she thinks, Texans might appreciate. Patrick Griffin, who grew up in Houston, contributes Country Music, which is perhaps the most literally Texas-themed work. Supported by mounted bull horns, his canvas reads "Lovin Losin Leavin Cryin" spelled out in lasso-rope cursive. Dash Snow (grandson of Christophe de Menil) offers a quartet of photographs that suggest the end results of some obviously bizarre circumstances — one features a naked butt with a twisted sprout of paper poking out. That said, "anal" certainly describes Terence Koh's five-hour silent video GOD, an explicit, stupid, cliché-ridden "art porno" in which a man in a rabbit mask plunders a willing male bottom. (That was the film's only narrative element I could, or was willing to, discern.) It should be said that Koh's nonvideo pieces on display fare much better. Aurel Schmidt's Silent Night is maybe the most nakedly provocative piece in the show. A Christmas tree, decorated with cigarette-butt chains and sprinkled with tiny gold crosses, is hung upside down from the ceiling, suspended over a statuette of Jesus hugging a little boy and a little girl. The children's mouths are covered in black tape. But Schmidt has a fun side—her drawings of phallic vegetables and fruit sheathed in condoms balance the exhibit's more raw works with a playful lightness. Through April 18. CTRL Gallery, 3907 Main, 713-523-2875. — TS
"Perspectives 165: Contents Under Pressure" Juried by artist Dario Robleto, this exhibition of works by Houston-area teens explores containers and containment. The most literal interpretation of the theme is a site-specific installation just outside the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston's entrance. Titled What Contains You?, the work is a shipping container that visitors may step into, where they're invited to scrawl their answer to the titular question on a piece of paper and fix it to the metal wall with a magnet. A droning noise on speakers emphasizes an interior pressure and might work the nerves of the claustrophobic. The participatory responses range from the thoughtful to the silly, like "the bottle of memories, good or bad," "my middle name," "the shithole that is Houston," "the man," "skinny jeans" and "LSD." In the Zilkha Gallery, works by more than 40 teens are on display. Standouts include Alex Goss's photographic portraits, which feature subjects whose faces are obscured by Band-Aids, coffee filters and balloons, and a structure built from Hurricane Ike debris made by students from Sam Rayburn High School, which documents their experiences of the storm. It's a poignant reminder of the emotional amplification of adolescence, when even the slightest interruption of routine is tantamount to catastrophe. Through May 10. Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 5216 Montrose, 713-284-8250. — TS
"PRISMATTAK" Color-conscious Houston artist Lisa Marie Godfrey curated this group show spotlighting artists who employ color to create psychedelic effects and abstract textures. Ranging from doodles to graffiti to sculptural forms made of paper, the show is appropriately stripped-down and casual, occupying the Domy Books' entrance-nook. Brent Wadden's triangularly composed designs in acrylic, enamel, pen and marker evoke primitive spirit masks, but perhaps ones found in the sci-fi realm. Rene Cruz contributes a pair of bizarre acid-trip images, one of which looks like an exquisite corpse he decided to complete all by himself. Most effectively psychedelic are Renata Lucia's crumpled-paper pieces, sheets that were wadded up, unfolded and dusted with brightly colored spray paint — real visual treats and by far the best buys on display. Through March 14. 1709 Westheimer, 713-523-3669. — TS
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