Capsule Art Reviews: "Hedwige Jacobs — New Drawings," Hot and Grounded, "Michael Guidry: How soon is now?," "Museum of Unnatural History," "Perspectives 164: Stephanie Syjuco: Total Fabrications"
"Hedwige Jacobs — New Drawings" Raised in the Netherlands, Hedwige Jacobs must have drawn upon the sprawling landscape of Houston — she currently resides here — rather than her Dutch upbringing to create this set of new drawings. Though at first glance some of the works look like large-scale doodles, they're actually intricately designed narratives concerning manufactured human interaction. Sun City depicts tiny islands crowded with "Little Boxes"-style houses. Living in a Box and Foreclosure take the concept literally; both are drawings of houses with their roofs open or unfolded like a box, but we see inside that the walls throb with color — perhaps it's a representation of the public vs. private persona. Crowds of people populate other drawings, like Black Hole, in which tiny figures lounge around a dark pool. In Victoria's Secret, women of a variety of shapes and sizes wear different styles of lingerie. Other drawings portray tangles and chains of lattice mesh, as well as house-like forms made of the same material. Jacobs's works rarely contain both people and structures; she seems to purposely separate them. Or she may be suggesting a correlation: Our connections to one another are dictated by the walls we build around us. Through February 21. CTRL Gallery, 3907 Main, 713-523-2875. — TS
Hot and Grounded "Art" in bars usually runs to beer signs, posters or maybe lame paintings by friends of the owner. But Ariane Roesch's new installation Hot and Grounded at 13 Celsius, a hip wine bar in an old drycleaner's building on Caroline Street, is pretty amazing. Roesch created a luminous network that alludes to the kinds of connections people make in bars. From the street you can see glowing red and green wires angling across the ceiling of 13 Celsius. Inside the bar, they run down the walls and terminate into photographs silk-screened on frosted Plexiglas. In one corner, the lines disappear into an image of a control box operated by a man in a lab coat. Across the room, red lines end in bottles of German wine. The lines run into the courtyard; at the back of the bar, by the bathrooms, the radiant red wires connect to an image of an embracing couple, extending from the man's eyes to the woman's heart. Or is it her boobs? The combination of the network of lines and the talking and laughing crowd made the bar feel like a factory producing human interaction. Roesch's man in the corner seemed to be throwing the switch to turn things on, activating the wire and causing embracing couples and bar hookups. Rather than just art shown in a bar, Roesch's work seemed to energize the whole space, with the people and the art forming a complete circuit. Through February 14. 3000 Caroline, 713-529-8466. Closing reception:5 to 7 p.m. Friday, February 13. — KK
"Michael Guidry: How soon is now?" There's a whole lotta taping going on at Wade Wilson Art. Michael Guidry's new paintings are filled with angled chunks of color executed with the kind of crisp edges you can only get through excessive use of masking tape. You'd never know it, but personal photographs are the point of departure for Guidry's abstract paintings. Rather than breaking up the photographic images through smeary expressive brushstrokes or distorted pixilation, Guidry fractures the images into chunks of flat, solid color. The shards of cool blue and earthy green evoke lush, exploded landscapes. Through February 14. 4411 Montrose Blvd., 713-521-2977. — KK
"Museum of Unnatural History" Elaine Bradford crochets clothes for dead animals. Maybe "clothes" isn't entirely accurate; Bradford's creations are more like "cozies" for stuffed wildlife. Her new show at the Art League Houston, "Museum of Unnatural History," is reportedly the artist's farewell to taxidermied animals — she will neither clothe nor mutate them after this. Never say never, but if that's true, Bradford's certainly going out with a bang. Her mock museum of natural history purportedly houses a collection of animal specimens "discovered" by a Dr. Thomas Harrigan in a region called the "Sidereal." Bradford even collaborated with a writer, J.D. Ho, to create a helpful "guide" to the collection and informational wall text written in museum-ese. Bradford is undoubtedly an aficionado of natural history museums, because her parody is pitch-perfect. From the depressing dirty ocher color of the walls to the wood bases of the dioramas sporting gold-letter labels, the installation channels the stuff of school field trips. And then the whole place is filled with Bradford's assortment of oddly altered dead animals sporting crocheted skins. In three corners of the room, Bradford created dioramas with wonderful cheesily painted backdrops showcasing various species. One diorama is a kind of tropical forest bursting with fake foliage; another is an arid desert (scant fake foliage); the best, and goofiest, is a kind of arctic cave. The dioramas feel like exhibits from a not especially well-funded natural history museum in a not especially large city — and I mean that in a good way. Through February 20. 1953 Montrose Blvd., 713-523-9530. — KK
"Perspectives 164: Stephanie Syjuco: Total Fabrications" Riffing on the counterfeit culture, Stephanie Syjuco seems determined to prove that authenticity, especially in the digital age, is socially endangered (if not extinct). Her works playfully critique our willingness to believe a knockoff is the real thing, even when we know it's as fake as a bad boob job. The Berlin Wall is an ongoing project in which the artist collects chunks of concrete, mounts the specimens with a little display plaque that reads "THE BERLIN WALL" and then states where it was found (mostly cities in California) and the date. It suggests that souvenir-obsession is actually delusional and that the desire to "own a piece of history" is a self-betraying sickness. Remember those little vials of "Ash from Mount St. Helens"? Towards a New Theory of Color Reading is another sly and successful work. Syjuco chose three Houston newsweeklies and deconstructed their layout designs into fields of color: yellow, blue, red and shades of gray. The pages are displayed on panels and viewers are free to take copies. The piece seems to imply that, in essence, news publications are merely siphons from a source, and by the time the paper hits newsstands, its authenticity is as banal as ink on paper. Through February 22. Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 5216 Montrose, 713-284-8250. — TS
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