Capsule Art Reviews: "Get a Rope," "My world is really small and you are in it," "Perspectives 165: Contents Under Pressure"
"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 non-video 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
"My world is really small and you are in it" Rachel Hecker has made art from the ephemera of daily life — the kinds of stray bits and pieces of paper you find floating around in your desk drawer, tucked in your wallet or stuffed in your purse. In Hecker's hands, grocery lists, store receipts, fortune cookie fortunes, Post-it notes and the like are memorialized and monumentalized as paintings on canvas. Forty paintings in various sizes and shapes are leaned up against opposite walls of the gallery. They overlap each other in the same way piles of papers on a desk overlap. Hecker has vastly— but proportionately — enlarged her subjects. The works are rendered with excruciating exactness. All the scraps of paper and notes are Hecker's. Each one, no doubt, holds particular memories and associations for the artist. But they also trigger associations for the viewer. We've all got crap like this, and therefore the work resonates in a really visceral way. We know what it's like to look at an ostensibly meaningless bit of paper in an old billfold and suddenly be moved to Proustian reverie. Hecker is a masterful artist both technically and conceptually. Through April 18. Texas Gallery, 2012 Peden, 713-524-1593. — KK
"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
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