Capsule Art Reviews: "Katy Heinlein: Project Space," "Sasha Pierce: New Paintings" and "John Sparagana: The Crisis Professionals", "Carlos Runcie-Tanaka: Fragmento", "No Zoning: Artists Engage Houston"
"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
"No Zoning: Artists Engage Houston" This exhibition features the work of about 20 local artists and teams of artists who have created works outside of museums and galleries, often site-specific or performance-based pieces. Many of the participants began engaging their environments in the '80s, and the show includes installation elements from past works to just-recent ones. It's an adequately interesting exhibit of local talent in a historical context, but it lacks almost any relevance to what makes these works powerful in their own skins. For instance, Cleveland Turner's Flower Man House in the Third Ward is represented by a mock-up on the CAMH's front lawn. Besides the potential to point visitors toward the real thing, a crazy, colorful mish-mash of junk, toys and whatever else Turner finds or visitors bring him, the surrogate can't begin to embody the soul Turner's actual residence contains — especially because it's not a museum. It's a house. Similarly, artist Jim Pirtle's stand-in for notsuoH, the downtown art project/hangout he started in the '90s, misses the mark. The assemblage of display cases, paintings, old records, books and other ephemera won't re-create an actual late-night visit to Pirtle's domain at Clark's on Main. While the installation might bring back incredible memories for some, its twisted logic won't translate to the uninitiated. In conjunction with "No Zoning," Jack Massing and Michael Galbreth got married to a live oak sapling the morning of Saturday, June 13, at the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden. I was out of town and unable to attend the wedding. After viewing the video, I can't say whether it was a brilliant performance. So much is lost on not having actually been there. And with The Art Guys, that's kind of the point. Through October 4. The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 5216 Montrose. 713-284-8250. — TS
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