Capsule Art Reviews: "Bert Long's RED Book", "Cosmos", "Group Show: Shoman, Benhelima, Forero, Zet, Wilson & Wolfson"

"Bert Long's RED Book" Houston art scene fixture Bert Long presents 18 new pieces based on The Red Book, Carl Jung's personal art journal that was published for the first time last year. Jung's artwork was based largely on the symbolism of dreams, and Long mines his own personal unconscious for this show, which manages to incorporate elements evocative of Jung's personal style. Many of Long's works utilize collage; they're assemblages of objects with paintings. Several of the works on display employ deconstructed pinewood frames beautifully stained with acrylic, giving the paintings a somehow "bookish" look. Self Examination, literally the theme of the show, evokes the surrealists — Tanguy in particular — with its blobby shapes and oozy texture. It's Long examining his body's output, both physically and psychically. Stumped is a nightmare vision of a human heart on fire and dripping with water, perched on a leg and coiled with a green snake. It's ubiquitous symbolism, perhaps, but Long's presentation is powerful. Beware after viewing: Long's work, appropriately on exhibit at the Jung Center, might provoke a restless night or two. Through May 28. C.G. Jung Center, 5200 Montrose, 713-524-8253. — TS

"Cosmos" Since relocating to Houston in January, the formerly Austin-based gallery Art Palace has been a cool, quirky addition to the Isabella Court Inman/CTRL Gallery block near Alabama and Main. Its current show is a joint exhibition of work by artists Emilie Halpern and Eric Zimmerman that joins pop culture with space imagery, but it also throws in an intellectual, philosophical element. Halpern contributes mostly photography to the exhibit, and it's a little hit-or-miss. There's a personal narrative at work in Halpern's photos, and without an awareness of it, some may seem simply banal. For example, her photo June 29, 2055 is an image of stars not unlike those taken at observatories. But it's actually a constructed image, part of a star map for the estimated date of Halpern's death. See, that bit of info helps. Halpern's most striking photo is Feather Lips, a close-up black-and-white image of a female mouth with tiny yellow-and-orange feathers fanned across the bottom lip. Though I've never seen it before, it already seems iconic. It screams "album cover." Zimmerman delivers the brains and muscle in this show, and his hard work is evident. Four large-scale drawings square the room, each containing a play on the phrase "You Are Here" and juxtaposing three unrelated images. The detail is astonishing; they look, at first, like prints. The Velocity of the End (From Here to There) features the words "FROM HERE TO THERE" in forced perspective, along with a 1953 Studebaker at the Bonneville Salt Flats, the first atomic bomb crater in the New Mexico desert, and views of the night sky from the base of a tower. Zimmerman seems to be playing around with reference as a way to distill existence into insignificance. Through June 19. Art Palace, 3913 Main, 281-501-2964. — TS

"Group Show: Shoman, Benhelima, Forero, Zet, Wilson & Wolfson" This sprawling show, consisting mostly of photography, examines political injustice (the Palestinian-Israeli conflict), the experience of foreigners in Belgium, cultural stereotypes and other sociological conflicts and issues. Charif Benhelima's black-and-white photographs of immigrant children and refugees in Belgium are impressive for their ability to convey dignity and perseverance, despite the somewhat desperate and dire circumstances presented. Czech artist Martin Zet's photographs of himself in a variety of silly poses manage to also reflect a deep sadness and a frustrated state of expression. In one, he jams his bare foot a few feet up into the corner of a room, arching his back into the wall. It's strangely affecting, and I'm not sure why. It's as if he could actually climb the wall. Santiago Forero's deep-color photos are dramatic scenes of stereotypical characters: a desperate housewife, a cowboy tourist beaten by urban thugs. In one series, Action Heroes, Forero photographs himself (he's a little person) posing as a terrorist, an American soldier in Vietnam and a masked rioter with Molotov cocktail. Forero's physical stature — he could never actually inhabit these characters — lends the photos a twisted humor, questioning the characters' ­identities as culturally heroic and defiant figures. Through May 30. The Station Museum, 1502 Alabama, 713-529-6900. — TS

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Troy Schulze
Contact: Troy Schulze