Capsule Art Reviews: December 25, 2014

"Jorge Marin: Wings of the City" This installation at Discovery Green has nine wonderful sculptures by an acclaimed Mexican sculptor; some are powerful, some playful, some enigmatic, but all are filled with a love for and an appreciation of humanity that is breathtaking and admirable. Though they represent a higher order of being — most are winged — they have retained their humanity. Abrazo Monumental (abrazo is Spanish for "embrace") is a pietà-like sculpture of a winged angel holding a dying woman. El Tiempo shows a wounded soldier, his face intact but his head shattered and missing, and his arms severed as well, yet he remains watchful and alert, resolute, courageous, kept alive by his dedication and his need to protect the city. One sculpture is interactive: It's a pair of giant bronze wings with an opening for the visitor to stand in and be photographed wearing the wings. Titled Alas de Mexico, it is playful indeed, and early on a Saturday evening it was very active, with visitors waiting their turn. There are six winged sculptures, and three that are not winged. Split Monumental has a gymnast with a hawk mask, short hair, balancing on his hands on a globe. Equilibrista 90 Monumental shows a masked gymnast supporting himself with his hands on a globe, his legs stretched straight out, in an elegant line. Hombre Universal Monumental shows a man standing on a large open ring of metal, holding onto it at its top, with outstretched arms, an homage to and an echo of Leonardo da Vinci's sketch of the Vitruvian Man, probably the best-known drawing in the history of art. Through February 8. 1500 McKinney, La Branch at Lamar, 713-400-7336, discovery — JJT

"Julon Pinkston: Nailed" Sometimes an artist is inspired to proceed in a certain direction, but to a viewer the direction may seem the opposite — uninspired. This is the case with Julon Pinkston's solo show, "Nailed," at Zoya Tommy Gallery. There are two different approaches here. As a person enters the intimate gallery, there is a work titled The Westmont Event, then comes The Westmont Event 2, then The Westmont Event 3, then The Westmont Event 4. They have varying compositions, but all are acrylic paint on nails in a charred-wood panel. There is a fifth similar work, Tumbleweed Tornado Fire. The second approach also uses acrylic paint on nails, but the nails are displayed against a more neutral background than charred wood, and the works are considerably larger. There may be scores, or even hundreds, of these nails. I liked best a black-and-white piece, Spring Hide Sight, and a green one titled Migratory Behavior had an attractive background. The artist's statement read, "In his current work he creates impasto paintings along with paint made to look and feel like ubiquitous objects relating to his studio practice like duct tape, plywood, red stickers using acrylic paint as a medium." I gather that means he uses items such as pushpins or nails coated with acrylic to transform a painting into a sculpture. The statement went on to conclude, "His work explores the transformity of acrylic painting as a media while maintaining a seductive, elegant quality." The works lacked elegance and failed to intrigue, much less seduce. The Woodmont series is dark, somber and serious. It's inscrutable without being intriguing. The other paintings, most of them, are a different story. They are strange, almost verging on grotesquerie. Through January 3. 4411 Montrose, Unit F, 713-523-7424, — JJT

The Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden There is a hidden treasure tucked away next to a parking lot, a remarkable collection of majestic sculptures by internationally famed artists, on display behind attractive stone walls in an open-air park; it is the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden. It was designed and created by Isamu Noguchi, himself a world-famous sculptor, landscape architect and pioneer of modern interior design. The Cullen Sculpture Garden first opened to the public in 1986 — Noguchi had submitted his initial design in 1979, and refined it over the next five years. The garden covers more than one acre, and is carved into a series of outdoor pavilions, separated sometimes by walls, that permit semi-enclosures around some of the sculptures. The exhibition includes more than 25 works from the MFAH collection, as well as selected loans. The sculptures are deliberately eclectic, demonstrating a range of artistic approaches, so there is no theme, except diversity itself. I liked Alexander Calder's giant red metal The Crab, so filled with dynamic energy that, viewed from the right position, it seems it might be moving threateningly. It is just outside MFAH's main building, guarding the entrance. Raymond Duchamp-Villon's The Large Horse is semi-abstract, with some cubistic elements, and roars with its own energy. Frank Stella's Decanter is extremely complex, powerful yet playful, a combination of circles and planes, some jutting out to catch and demand attention. I was mystified by the title Bird (Oiseau) for Joan Miró's massive bronze, since I saw it as an adolescent rhinoceros about to go on a date, hormones aflame. It is witty and great fun. There is more, much more. Ongoing exhibition. 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7300, — JJT

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Randy Tibbits is an independent art writer and curator, specializing in the art history of Houston. He is a member of the Board of Directors of CASETA: Center for the Advancement and Study of Early Texas Art and the coordinator of HETAG: Houston Earlier Texas Art Group. He writes art exhibition reviews for Houston Press from time to time.