"The Clearing — Joey Fauerso" For "The Clearing," Joey Fauerso takes found, generic landscape scenes and inhabits them with photos of naked men. In one, a bearded, generally hairy man is leaping off a river rock while a majestic waterfall cascades in the background. In another, the same man (I think) stands watching at the edge of a lake while a geyser (I think) erupts in a plume of water. The men are obviously photographs that have been glued to the surface of the low-res inkjet prints, which seems sloppy. The images would be more successful if Fauerso embedded the men more seamlessly into the landscapes. Don't miss Fauerso's video Me Time, in which the artist French-kisses a series of generic puppets: a fireman, a policeman, a construction worker and a nurse. It's disturbingly sincere and hilarious. Through July 23. Box 13 ArtSpace, 6700 Harrisburg, 713-533-8692. — TS
"Exurb: Input/Output" It's very appropriate that this interactive audio/video installation at the Joanna is running simultaneously with the Stan VanDerBeek survey at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. In the main room at the Joanna, the creators of "Exurb: Input/Output," artist-engineers Johnny DiBlasi, Steven Kraig, Patrick Renner, Sam Singh and Eric Todd, have constructed two Plexiglas arches outfitted with theremins and tube amps that respond with tone variations and video manipulations on four screens when bodies maneuver under and around them. The piece is a kind of comment on social media, the idea that our daily movements leave electronic imprints through the pervasive presence of wireless technology. The artists are admittedly influenced by VanDerBeek's experiments in computer imaging, and the installation is deliberately designed to display the technological implements it utilizes — you can see the theremin antennas, amplifiers and computer equipment encased in the clear Plexiglas. But the audio "action" is subtler than we expected. The installation's dominant sound is a loud, aggressive drone reminiscent of the soundtracks of David Lynch films (the artists are fans), and there's a kind of nightmarish feeling of sinister surveillance, especially in the way one video projection tracks human bodies visually, in real time, through the electric signals received by the theremin. It makes you want to turn off your GPS and suspend your Facebook and Twitter accounts (at least for just a little while). Through July 15. The Joanna, 1401 Branard, 713-825-1803. — TS
"George Gittoes: Witness to War" Australian artist George Gittoes isn't afraid to put himself at the epicenters of some of the worst acts of human brutality on the planet in order to make his art. His travels have taken him to Rwanda, Bosnia, Congo, Iraq and Afghanistan, among other war-torn countries. This exhibit at the Station Museum of Contemporary Art is the first major presentation of his artwork in the United States. It's chilling, disgusting, journalistic and entertaining all at once. As a visual diary of Gittoes's experiences, the show is a massive dose of illustrated storytelling told through installation, video, drawing, painting, collage and the handwritten word. It takes several hours to experience it all, and we didn't try to soak it all up, because even an hour's worth is excruciatingly depressing. But we agree with Gittoes that it's absolutely necessary for us to look. The artist is holding a mirror up to the evil and ugliness of the world, hoping that will, in effect, destroy evil—like Perseus using a reflection to kill Medusa. A grotesque mythology is employed in Gittoes's work, too. Out of very real evil he constructs graphic-novel-esque narratives about supernatural soldiers and mutant wars rooted in the emotional reality of genocide. In Assumption, a cloud of bloodied, mutilated bodies ascends toward...Heaven, maybe? Another painting takes inspiration from a photograph of a severely beaten Rwandan boy (or maybe a girl?) and transforms it into a hellish image of violence in action. On the entertaining side, don't miss the impressively realized installation of a video store in the Taliban-controlled city of Peshawar. The Taliban are known for bombing such businesses, and Gittoes presents one in incredible detail, with video monitors and walls covered in hilarious DVD covers created by Gittoes himself. It slyly comments on the absurdity of an anti-technology culture using technology to destroy technology (and culture). Through July 17. 1502 Alabama, 713-529-6900. – TS
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"Jenny Schlief Stock Photography: From the Woman Series" In Jenny Schlief's ongoing "Stock Photography" series (with photography by Jenny Antill), Schlief stages her own versions of photos she found while searching the Web sites shutterstock.com and istockphoto.com, using the keywords "fun woman." She poses (in a variety of wigs) wearing headphones and singing into a hairbrush, happily eating what looks like salmon sashimi, working on a laptop, and practicing generic yoga/meditation. Schlief captures the vapidity and non-identity of "stock," and she adds funny and sarcastic commentary by switching the photos' context and photographic purpose (although she says the photos will be available to purchase at those Web sites). It makes you question the motives and methods of those in the stock business. Through July 23. Box 13 ArtSpace, 6700 Harrisburg, 713-533-8692. — TS
"Liz Hickok: Jiggling Geography" Liz Hickok's photographs of cityscapes made from multi-flavored Jell-O are certainly fun and curious. There's obviously an enormous amount of work required for each photographic setup — making the molds, the staging areas, the miniature foliage, lighting. Hickok re-creates the San Francisco skyline as seen from Alcatraz, the White House, the Statue of Liberty and other landmarks as glowing, multicolored, slightly unstable structures and cities lit from below. Hickok feels there's a metaphor at work in these images: that the Jell-O represents or transmits the fragility of the natural and man-made real world. But subscribing to that analysis only injects cynical intellectualism into what is essentially bizarre and otherworldly. Any kid would want a Jell-O city for their birthday party, so they could admire it, jiggle it, and decimate each Jell-O skyscraper and house one-by-one. The exhibit also makes us wonder: Just how big is Hickok's refrigerator? And has the Food Network called yet? Through July 31. De Santos Gallery, 1724 Richmond, 713-520-1200. — TS
"Mitch Dobrowner: New Work" If you've ever felt the eerie calm before a funnel cloud ravages a row of houses just a block away, or braced yourself while the offshore hurricane creeps toward landfall, you'll appreciate the new batch of spectacular photographs by Mitch Dobrowner currently on display at John Cleary Gallery. Dobrowner's hero is Ansel Adams, and he photographs a lot of mountain scenes in the Southwest and California. It's pretty stuff — placid, contemplative. But Dobrowner's storm photography is even better for its sense of action and impending violence. He captures mythological cloud formations in Tornado Alley, some resembling the special-effects storms caused by the mother ships in alien-invasion movies. Dobrowner's low horizon line in a photo like Arm of God, Galacia, Kansas characterizes the storm as a supernatural entity. It isn't a new idea. The hokey movie Twister used that "finger of God" language too, but Dobrowner's distance from his storm subjects suggests a more stark and sober mood than the adrenaline-fueled hysteria of a storm chaser. For Dobrowner, the swirling wind and danger is far away. For now, we're safe. But for how long? One photo, Monsoon, Lordsburg, New Mexico, captures a storm in the shape of a mushroom cloud, as if nature is mimicking human destruction, building up enough strength to blow us away. Through August 31. 2635 Colquitt, 713-524-5070. — TS
"Musicians Who Make Art" When speaking of crossover in art forms, perhaps musicians and visual artists are most successful at achieving success in each other's fields of expertise. Through their manual manipulations of instruments and materials, musicians and visual artists seem naturally inclined to swing between the visual image and the sonic composition. The Art Car Museum is proving it with its current exhibit "Musicians Who Make Art." Largely a Texas-based conglomeration of art, the show includes works by well-known musicians like Butch Hancock of the Flatlanders, whose otherworldly prints evoke sci-fi fantasy, and Joe Ely, who contributes a photo montage/collage of funny, prison-themed DIY infographics. Austin's Bob Schneider's contribution is most surprising, with his outlandish and meticulously detailed etchings and aquatints. (We actually like his artwork more than his music.) Ken Little and Bryan Wheeler are better known as visual artists first (who also play in bands), and their works on display are among the most visually arresting in the exhibit. Wheeler's Infinite Jest takes cues from Jasper Johns in its striking amalgamation of pop and abstract imagery, while Little's Black Jacket Moose amuses as a taxidermied moose head impressively outfitted in black leather and a selection of sporting-good footgear. On the local end, standouts include work by local concept-rock legend Beans Barton, Two Star Symphony's Jo Bird and the Sideshow Tramps' Craig Kinsey. Our favorite is a piece that addresses the quintessential meeting of art and music: the album cover. Jessica DeCuir of San Antonio's Hyperbubble deconstructs the covers of Blondie's Parallel Lines, Men at Work's Business as Usual and the Rolling Stones' Tattoo You into a cool, abstract grid. Through August 7. 140 Heights, 713-861-5526. – TS