Art Capsule Reviews

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"Dick Wray" This amiable artist has been exhibiting his dense paintings for 50 years, ever since he graduated from the University of Houston back in 1958. In vibrant abstract work, he drops hints of figures but obscures them with emotional brush strokes and scratched lines. Channeling an urgency, Wray's work is naive yet sculptured. He uses a palette of complementary combinations, occasionally dripping and splattering his energetic patterns and shapes. Here his work is painterly and bright, with collage and transferred images in some works. Previous incarnations at the Station in 2004 and ArtScan in 2000 employed obscene black-ink doodles and printed canvases layered in paint, but Wray is consistent in his appreciative homage to the abstract expressionists of the mid-20th century. Through July 7. Wade Wilson Art, 4411 Montrose, 713-521-2977. — SC

"Ìs" The gallery at 4411 Montrose seems colder than ever this summer; Libbie Masterson has brought a breath of Icelandic air to the Gulf Coast at the perfect time. A painter and sculptor in previous incarnations, the artist lately has focused on photography, presenting her images as illuminated light-boxes. Many of the singular works here are wall-mounted, but a large installation of 13 panels in the center of the gallery breaks out of the flat plane more ambitiously, encompassing the viewer with nearly 360 degrees of imagery photographed in a barren sea of broken ice floes. The isolation of Iceland's Arctic environment is palpable. Masterson's imagery seems to have caught up with her imaginative presentation; unlike previous shows, this one is both aesthetically pleasing and political. The work explores the current climate scare; ironically, these beautiful light-boxes depicting Arctic glaciers are burning fuel as they emit light. As we grow into this 21st century, the intricacies and hypocrisies of our relationship to climate change are ever evident — we can only hope that Masterson's observations are not just memories in a decade or two. Through June 16. Barbara Davis Gallery, 713-520-9200. — SC

"Perspectives 156: Impulse! Work from Houston-Area Teens" Every summer, the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston's Teen Council organizes an exhibit of work by local high school students that provides invaluable insight into what interests young artists today. The works included here are fully realized and executed. The show includes a large amount of digital work and photography — Katie Ayres and Humberto Tamez use the computer to manipulate their images into expressive portraits. Darcy Rosenberger and Francisca Wistuba are amazing illustrators, and their themes are quite mature. Rosenberger makes graphic sketches of people missing one body part; in each work, the part lies inert at the subject's side, a bloodless but surgical removal. Wistuba has mapped an intensely detailed neighborhood on a plywood plank; her hand-drawn, bird's-eye view humanizes the rigidity of the urban landscape. Jessica Adams's Utopian Swings and Lightning in the Cloud are smart installation works; one's a reconfigured swing set, the other's an intense cloud formation with an eerie blue glow. With only one oil painting by Dakota Anderson and watercolors by Jennifer May Reiland and Adelina Solis, "Impulse" strays far from traditional artwork — a sign of the ingenuity and impulsiveness of Houston's young artists. Through June 17. 5216 Montrose, 713-284-8250. — SC


Houston art galleries

"Transformation 5: Contemporary Works in Found Materials" Whether it's the transformation of utilitarian objects into sculpture or fabric scraps into a quilt, the allure of "found" art lies in seeing a new value, perspective or form emerge from the ordinary, the banal. "Transformation 5" is a juried exhibition of 30 artists who competed for the prestigious Elizabeth R. Raphael Founders Prize, which recognizes excellence in the field of contemporary craft. The show includes decorative pieces, like Sharon McCartney's series of fabric collages, which overlap mostly green and gray tones and feel very countrified with their recurring bird imagery and lacy edges. There's also wonderful kitsch, like two "robot" sculptures: Toby A. Fraley's Feather Flite Robot and Linda and Opie O'Brien's The Emperor's Scribe. Fraley's is the more space-age one, with its jet-pack and halogen-light head and body made from discarded vacuum pieces. The O'Briens equip their (explicitly male) robot with an open-door torso filled with bric-a-brac: an old aspirin tin, printing blocks, tinker toys and pencils. The abstract pieces on display represent the best of the exhibit, because they demonstrate how fully and mysteriously these everyday objects can be manipulated. Amy Lipshie's Tomb, a strange, four-foot-tall sculpture resembling a foot, was made with woven strips of cereal boxes, beads, nylon thread and varnish. Rainbow-colored, it changes with the spectrum as one circles it. Most audacious is Parable by Jerry Bleem. The stretched and twisted hollow form has been covered in art magazine ads and then encased in staples from top to bottom. The outside emits a metallic gleam while the inside sparkles like quartz crystals. Through June 17 at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, 4848 Main, 713-529-4848. — TS

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