Capsule Art Reviews: Hedwige Jacobs New Drawings, Hot and Grounded, Neva Mikulicz: Recent Work, Perspectives 164: Stephanie Syjuco: Total Fabrications, Susan Chen: Butterflies Shift North
"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
"Neva Mikulicz: Recent Work" Artist Neva Mikulicz loves driving, and this self-proclaimed "Ford gal" has incorporated her passion into her work. It's not just about the act of piloting a vehicle; Mikulicz has an obvious nostalgia for the highway culture of the '50s and '60s. In her show at Anya Tish Gallery, Mikulicz presents pencil drawings based on found vintage photographs — with cars. Drawing from photographs is not an inherently exciting concept, but the artist wryly inserts video into her beautifully executed images. In one, a woman with bouffant hair and pencil skirt perches on the tail of a fastback Ford Mustang. She looks a little like Tippi Hedren. The circular rearview mirror is cut out and a video of receding highway plays underneath. That tiny circle of color and movement transforms the image. In other works, the drawings are more elaborate and use snippets of old movies and TV programs to enrich their sense of nostalgia. It's interesting and unexpected work. Through January 31. 4411 Montrose Blvd., 713-524-2299. — 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
"Susan Chen: Butterflies Shift North" Susan Chen's installation in the funky artist-run space Skydive looks like a model shop for some low-budget film. Chen has created a series of tiny, island-like constructions and hung them from the gallery ceiling. Clusters of white Christmas lights dangle from the ceiling as well, creating a DIY night sky. The "islands" are little nuggets of the surreal. In one, a tiny plastic Jabba the Hut is plopped on a chunk of Styrofoam, er, polar ice. Other constructions are Apocalypse Now jungle-y. In a video projected on the opposite wall, Chen's quirky and goofy constructions are transformed, becoming stars in an elegant and otherworldly environment. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...Through January 31. 3400 Montrose Blvd., suite 907, www.theskydive.org. — KK
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