Capsule Art Reviews: May 22, 2014

"Ann Harithas: Memory" is the first exhibition of this artist after she recovered completely from what may have been a stroke last year, in which her memory and ability to recognize old friends were damaged. Harithas began reviewing old photographs, and her faculties and memory were restored. She works with digital image montages, and Memory Lane has two Asian men staring with interest at an off-canvas event, while a female child over the head of one looks directly ahead — is this a separate image, or is it the thought of the Asian, double-tasking? High School Prom has a photograph of a fresh-faced girl, innocent but expectant. What at first seems like a beret turns out to be a coiled rattlesnake, as sharks circle below. There is a medicine man, but can he protect her? A separate set of lips, heavily cosmeticized, suggests that sophistication lies in wait, whether Dad wants it or not. Dreams I Remember has a young girl reading peaceably by a window, with the scene covered with what seems to be a transparent, filmy fabric, except that it is instead an impression of brainwaves, and 16 globes circle her — these are brain scans. The work is complex, with emotional power. Brain Game is a large triple-image work of a young girl seated, with subtle variations. On the right she is on a ceramic seat, but in the middle and on the left, the seat is an open container. A picture of a brain on the right serves as her skirt, as her head in the middle and perhaps as a chandelier on the left. The contrast between the brain, the heavily patterned container and a stark brick wall adds a rich choice of textures. Through May 31. D.M. Allison Gallery, 2709 Colquitt, 832-607-4378, — JJT

"Charlotte Smith: Paint Rhetoric" These paintings use similar materials, but color variations are vast; each painting sings a different siren sing. They seem to be invitations, telling the viewer what kind of experience to expect. Dominant in the Anya Tish Gallery is Late Conversation (Night Dance). With a black background and dots of many colors, often blue, it has an oriental flavor. Charlotte Smith uses her paint generously, applying it to small pieces of paper or canvas, shaped a bit like sperm or a comma. These are glued to the canvas, and only close inspection reveals the layered effect. The emotional content is powerful. Grandiloquence is golden but subdued, suggesting an invitation from old friends to reminisce a bit, relaxing, serene. Magniloquence, with red dots and thin green stems, creates the impression of a field of poppies and of a celebration. Braggadocio, with white dots on a green background, seemed less involving, in tune with its title. Smith varies her approach in a series of paintings that suggest a spiral binder, though far more complex. Each is composed of two separate paintings, side by side, with the interior side of each having tiny projections of paint that are shaped like bowling pins; these look like spiral bindings from a distance. Each side of the painting is close to the mirror image of the other side, and the dots cluster near the "spiral," as though magnetized. In Small Confabulation I, there are brightly colored dots against a gray background, and the projections are colored in rings, like a croquet mallet. These paintings are about composition and texture. Smith is a painstaking artist; the amount and quality of her detailing is impressive indeed. Through May 24. 4411 Montrose, 713-524-2299, — JJT

"The Inner Marilyn" Public fascination with Marilyn Monroe continues — the iconography of her image earned $27 million last year. The Jung Center has created a fascinating exhibition, curated from The Babydoll Museum, the private collection of Marie Taylor Bosarge, featuring Marilyn Monroe's personal artifacts, costumes and personal effects. The exhibition captures Monroe's magnetic power and her capacity to project a variety of personalities in photo shoots and films. Bert Stern photographed her in 1962, shortly before her death, and these colored photographs leap off the wall. In one, her hair is disheveled, covering her right eye, but the heavy-lidded left eye is enough to let us see why David fell for Bathsheba. There are photographs of Monroe when she was still a brunette; these capture a youthful openness and sweetness. In her last photo shoot, she exudes such joy and zest for life that it's difficult to believe she took her own life, as is surmised. One dress on display is full-length, gold and red, worn by Betty Grable in a film, and modified to add a train when worn by Monroe in River of No Return. These garments document her hourglass figure, as do the photographs of the nude bathing scene in Something's Got to Give — her physical beauty may take your breath away. There is a carved wooden chair with the upholstery punctured by Monroe's heel. A picture of her on this chair is an anchor, reminding us that though she has become a goddess, she once was as human as you and I. Through June 10. 5200 Montrose, 713- 524-8253, — JJT

"Jay Shinn: Cathedrals in the Sky" The Barbara Davis Gallery opened on April 25 its exhibition of "Cathedrals in the Sky," a solo exhibition by Dallas- and New York-based artist Jay Shinn of new and exciting works, almost all having a common shape — octagonal — but varied by differing choices in media. Silent Encore (84 x 204") dominates a wall with grace and subtle energy, a trio of three interlocking octagonals, side by side, each of a different coloration — and the colors change, through three projectors focusing colors on painted images, creating seamless beauty. Within each octagon is another smaller octagon, and within that, another smaller one, and within that, still another, so that the space between the octagons becomes stripes filled with projected colors. And what colors they are! Shinn has a talent for pairing them, and uses peach stripes contrasted with gray stripes to advantage. The colors evolve as projected from a three-minute loop, moving from one octagon to another. There are many delightful color combinations — come and find your own favorite. This strong primary piece overshadows the others, yet the smaller Enclosure 2, composed of a rich yellow color projected on a painted octagon, delivered beauty and style, and created an interesting three-dimensional effect. Some other works are three-dimensional: Outside Voice and Inside Voice have neon octagonal shapes mounted on platforms 8" deep, with the neon emitting a blue-tinged light. Shinn has added a large, square painting, Open Enclosure, perhaps an abstract version of an expanding universe. It features orderly splashes of color, mostly blues and grays, emerging from a concentrated center. It suggests movement, and is graceful and subtle, designed to seduce rather than to demand attention. Through May 24. 4411 Montrose, Suite D, 713-520-9200, — JJT

"Jeff Shore and Jon Fisher: Trailer" The installation at McClain Gallery is by two collaborative Texan artists, Jeff Shore (Houston) and Jon Fisher (Dripping Springs). They have worked together since 2002, and this is their second solo show in Houston. This offering is kinetic, with much of the movement on film. A visitor pushes a small red button and a film appears, close to sepia in tone, suggesting days past, a simpler life; nostalgia seeps in. A series of images flickers onto a large screen on one wall. Large wooden semaphores unfold on film, as though a flower. An exercise bike turns, resembling an ancient spinning wheel, or the wheel to a prairie wagon. Human beings are absent — this is a tour of a museum of the mind, with no interpreter except you. A trailer, nestled in the woods, appears — old-style, small, silvery, devoid of luxury. Inside, four stools with no backs, as in an ice cream parlor, now empty, but one senses they once were filled with teenagers chattering away, eager to gossip and flirt, ordering vanilla Cokes. Drumsticks on automatic players beat tattoos on drums, retreat, re-emerge later. A paper lantern expands and contracts repeatedly, like an accordion, another repetitive image. The camera moves, but we, observing, are motionless. Echoes of circuses invade the mind. There is a big finish, as suddenly other walls come alive with pulsing images, and we are inundated, a tide of impressions sweeping us along with them. The images fade, the music dies, the flower closes and it is over. It lasts just 12 minutes, but it could be a lifetime. See it for yourself, and create your own narrative. Through May 31. 2242 Richmond, 713-520-9988. — JJT

"Jim Seigler: My Life With the Circus" Jim Seigler began designing for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in the early 1950s. He designed sets, floats and costumes, but there's much more — Seigler is also an accomplished ceramicist and a sensitive portrait artist. Hyde Park Gallery presents "Jim Seigler: My Life With the Circus," documenting Seigler's range of talents in its cavernous spaces. Seigler graduated from The Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida, which developed in him an affinity for vivid colors and dynamic figures. A notable exception is three charcoal portraits from 1949, which offer compelling glimpses of lives fully led and indicate a sympathetic bonding with humanity, in all its frailty. There are sketches of spectacular pageantry, revealing an intriguing grace that approaches elegance. Some works are solitary sketches for garments, but Seigler shapes them to life, showing the wearer as well as the garment. There are clowns and ringmasters galore, and girls riding elephants, and a Harem Girl sketch for a pageant that reminded me of Aubrey Beardsley's work. Elephants on Parade is elaborate in wit, with the elephant wearing a hat with nine large globes and the rider wearing a cape with a huge train. There are brightly colored ceramic sculptures, often of clowns with witty, exaggerated hats; these are delightful. Come see this most colorful and engaging exhibition. Through June 21. 115 Hyde Park, 713-524-6913, — JJT


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