Capsule Art Review: May 15, 2014

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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, www.dma-art.com. — 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, www.anyatishgallery.com. — 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 or www.barbaradavisgallery.com. — JJT

Karin Broker: damn girls From a distance, the huge flowers drawn by Karin Broker, some 8'x5', seem merely decorative, though powerful in their stark simplicity; it is only on a closer approach that the background is seen to be filled with the names of women, painstakingly handwritten, hundreds of them. The result is a linkage between the insignificance of a single signature and the impact when grouped together. And above this mute testimony towers a symbol of beauty, sometimes a single amaryllis, or a cluster of flowers, themselves a symbol of dominance, but destined to die and decay. Seven of these tall flowers come with a leather-bound book that lists the names and brief biographical data of women who have intrigued the artist, some of them historical figures and some virtually unknown. There are also five much smaller monoprint collages, in which color is introduced, though in muted earth-tones. Broker also shows three steel pieces of furniture, each one heavily etched with engravings. Two are benches, recounting incidents, confrontations and love affairs, including illustrations of some of the men involved. One is titled Taking Self and one I/Eye Gone, with the inscription 'What does he need? What does he want?" echoing Freud's query about women. Some anecdotes suggest a rich sexual life; this furniture art pulses with vitality. The third piece, too hot, too cold, has a steel dining-room table and six steel chairs that match, though the engravings on each are different. These have a formal quality, a simple elegance that is beautiful. Here is a strongly involved artist who knows her own mind and reflects it with skill and decisiveness. Through May 31. McClain Gallery, 2242 Richmond, 713-520-9988, www.mcclaingallery.com. — JJT

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