Capsule Art Reviews: November 20, 2014

As realistic as art comes - Christina by Carole A. Feuerman.
Photo courtesy of Octavia Art Gallery Houston.

Carole A. Feuerman Solo Exhibition Hyperrealist art is intended to simulate reality so precisely that the art can easily be mistaken for the real thing, and prime examples are on view at the intimate Octavia Art Gallery. Christina is a life-size sculpture, painted resin, of an attractive, fit woman in a discreet one-piece white bathing suit with orange and yellow designs, and a helmet-style bathing cap. She is turning her face to the sun, which is adroitly simulated by gallery lighting. She wears silver strap-on open shoes with high heels. A few hairs are escaping from the bathing cap. So vivid is the impersonation that a viewer might imagine he had seen her at a pool. Miniature Balance is not life-size, though so real is the illusion that the brain automatically enlarges it. It shows a full-breasted woman in the yoga lotus position, clad in a pale-blue two-piece bikini. Her eyes are closed, her fingers arched gracefully, and there is a realistic wrinkle in the rear of the bathing suit. Butterfly Capri seems life-size, though it portrays just the torso and head. There is a hint of humor — her right hand is lifting the bottom edge of her bathing suit, perhaps because it was binding, or perhaps as an enticement. She is wearing a reflective bathing cap and a one-piece bathing suit. Her eyes are closed, but the work is filled with energy. I loved Miniature Serena, in which a woman wearing a glistening bathing cap clings gently to an inflated rubber inner tube, her eyes closed. She has graceful hands and well-cared-for nails, and seems perfectly at rest, savoring a quiet moment in a vacation that is going well. Through December 5. 3637 West Alabama, Suite 120, 713-877-1810, octaviaartgallery.com. — JJT

"Larry Bell: Three Decades of Art" There is a mystifying element to Larry Bell's paintings — distance seems to add further enchantment. Up too close, I felt I was missing the forest for the trees. Nicole Longnecker Gallery has wisely hung AAAAA98 at the furthest reach, so it dominates from afar. I liked it enormously, without being able to determine why. It has a gray fish at the top, colorful vertical slivers, definitely a three-dimensional feel and a perspective of depth. It reminded me of the 1939 New York World's Fair, and of an Oriental sedan chair, so I decided just to savor the mystery. R 26 has a silvery central rectangle, devoid of detail but still dominating. It seems artificial, inscrutable and soothing. AAAAA 78 has an interesting use of salmon accents, some representational clues, a central roll-up window shade, gray fabric at the right and bottom, and a glimpse of an alien sunrise or sunset. In MVD 278, Bell clearly indicates some garments, one a dominant black much like a rented graduation robe, on its back a large arrow pointing upward — signifying aspiration? There are some blues, some grayish browns, and the ambience has a joyful tingle, as though filled with expectation. Larry Bell was born in Chicago in 1938, and currently lives and works in Taos, New Mexico, along with keeping a studio in Venice, California. His works have been included in major museums in the United States and abroad, and he has received a number of important solo exhibitions — his work was included in the Getty Museum's 2012 review of "LA Art 1945 to 1980" This exhibition showcases recent works as well as works from the 1990s. Through November 26. 2625 Colquitt, 713-591-4997, longneckergallery.com. — JJT

"Mass and Void" The immediate impression on seeing the amazing watercolors by Christopher St. Leger is that this artist loves architecture, cities and watercolors, using his talents to create vistas of shimmering beauty. This is a large and impressive exhibition, so a viewer is immersed immediately, surrounded by cityscapes so enticing as to make choosing which to see first a challenging assignment. There's a remarkable feeling that St. Leger is sharing his heart as well as his artistry. In 140513 bullnose west, he used the blinding light of a midday sun to bleach a building almost white, while a shadow in the lower right provides welcome relief. There is a sense of such immediacy that I felt I could stand there and watch the shadow on the building move as the sun continued its westward path. Some of the watercolors stress humanity rather than architecture. In 140204 sargasso, St. Leger features the glistening bounce of rain on the sidewalk of a busy outdoor mall, including the distorted reflections. A walker in the foreground has one foot about to hit the wet pavement, and I felt that if I waited, I could hear the splash. In 140808 tinted, three clusters of especially tall office towers dominate the skyline. They dwarf the surrounding buildings, but are in turn dwarfed by the sky itself. In 130607 westhausen, St. Leger portrays residential living, low-rise apartment buildings nestling one against another. A similar approach, though more of a close-up, is seen in 130425 pasadeen, and the fascinating juxtaposition of buildings, sky and a strong accent color resonates with some of the strengths of cubism. A visitor is likely to leave with a smile. Through November 26. Hooks-Epstein Gallery, 2631 Colquitt, 713-522-0718, www.hooksepsteingalleries.com. — JJT

Texas Visions of an Earlier Time: An Exhibition of Historic Texas Art In this very large exhibition, there are two historical paintings. On Texas Waters: USS Constitution captures the wooden-hulled, three-masted frigate on its three-year tour from 1931 to 1934, painted by Paul R. Schumann as it appeared in Galveston Bay. The second is a 1936 portrait by Emma Richardson Cherry of her son-in-law, Major Reid. It shows him to be handsome, in uniform, and its warm tan tones here posit the glamor of war, ignoring for a moment the agony in the trenches. Robert Wood's Hill Country Landscape with Bluebonnets, 1940, is compelling, dominating the gallery's central room. The painting's sky is blue and white, with the field of bluebonnets in the foreground and grassy, rolling hills in the middle. There are strong trees, and the contrast between them and the placid, unassuming beauty of the bluebonnets is powerful. Fall Landscape, 1911, by Hale Bolton, is subdued but riveting. It shows largely bare trees, and long shadows from a sun close to setting. There's only a tiny glimpse of a sky, with the quiet, seductive trees generously spaced apart, leaving ample room for a leisurely ramble. Untitled Landscape (Turquoise Mine), by Ruth Pershing Uhler, is filled with rolling, curved black hills, a New Mexico setting, with one cascading over the other. There is a sliver of sky as well as a few subdued splashes of dark red that indicate houses. The raw power of nature here seems formidable in these black hills, perhaps even threatening, but the curves still entice, and the white mist rising from the valleys outlines the curves and may suggest a glimmer of hope. Through December 20. William Reaves Fine Art, 2143 Westheimer, 713-521-7500, reavesart.com. — JJT


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