Capsule Art Reviews: "Edward Lane McCartney: Shift," "A Crack in Everything," "John Sonsini: New Paintings," "Luminous," "New Paintings: Geoff Hippenstiel," "Since I've Been Away"

"Edward Lane McCartney: Shift" With the vibrant, chromatic works on paper and plastic currently up at Goldesberry Gallery, you'd think Carlos Cruz-Diez was back in town. You'd only be half wrong. This past spring, Edward Lane McCartney took a course with the Venezuelan kinetic and Op artist while he was in town for his MFAH run, and Cruz-Diez clearly left a strong impression. Since that time, McCartney has produced an impressive amount of work in paper and jewelry now on display at the Upper Kirby gallery in "Shift." Like Cruz-Diez, McCartney employs stacked lines of solid bold colors that play with light and movement. But the Houston artist breaks away from just rectangular blocks, creating sculptures in the shape of circles, like neon pinwheels or Rolodexes, and empire lampshades. And his technique is also all his own, as he inserts sheets of blue, green, yellow and red paper between the pages of paperback books to create his lines of color. Like Cruz-Diez's work, the resulting pieces aren't meant to be viewed straight on — moving slightly to the right or left changes the color and shape of each one for a nifty optical effect. The title of the show refers to the way his works play on color, as well as the show itself, which is a departure for the political artist, whose recent work has addressed "Don't ask, don't tell" and pedophilia in the Catholic Church. McCartney is also a skilled jeweler, and that talent is on display here. There are miniature versions of his paper sculptures in the form of earrings and necklaces, along with other pieces. These works can be put on display — the textured, metal pieces even hang on the wall, like paintings — but they're meant to be worn by those who are as bold as the color themselves. It all makes for a fun, playful show that's completely enjoyable. Through March 17. 2625 Colquitt, 713-528-0405. — MD

"A Crack in Everything" The highly touted Seattle dance troupe zoe | juniper completely transforms DiverseWorks Art Space into its own dark, weird, womb-like dreamland. The artists create an entirely unfamiliar, unnerving place through innovative video, projection and sound techniques. It's the kind of installation that makes you say "what the hell?" — but in a good way. As with many other avant-garde multimedia productions, it's hard to describe exactly what happens in "A Crack in Everything," which explores such big concepts as memory and time. But for starters, you're greeted by two wall-size photographs depicting an orderly line of naked, pale people in a forest, their heads covered by fur and their chests painted silver. Walking through a dark hallway as if you're one of the naked blind, you're flanked by two screens that depict a half-naked woman — choreographer Zoe Scofield — wearing only white underwear with silver paint down her chest and stomach. She's dancing in jabbing yet still graceful moves, her form multiplied and overlapped hypnotically. You then reach a slightly elevated white platform that has two large screens propped next to each other — this is the real meat of the installation. There's enough room to walk between them or on either side, or you can sit on risers against opposite walls and watch. On both screens, an hour-long video loop features projections of life-size dancers wearing futuristic black tunics. Their images multiply, overlap, disappear and reappear. (In several live upcoming performances, dancers will play with these, bending what's real and what's not even further, though the installation does stand alone with or without this element.) There's more strange beauty to behold in this installation, but some pieces simply defy concise synopsis, sparking deep, emotional reactions that are unique to each viewer — go see it for yourself. Through February 25, with live dance performances at 1 p.m. February 4, 11, 18 and 25. 1117 East Fwy., 713-223-8346. — MD

"John Sonsini: New Paintings" Anyone acquainted with John Sonsini's work knows the drill. The Angeleno would find subjects for his portraits by picking up day laborers at street corners and Home Depot parking lots, paying them their normal hourly wages to sit for him. They picked their clothes and poses, and Sonsini painted them mostly straight on. Given the rare opportunity for this country's Mexican immigrants to represent themselves as they, for the most part, see fit, the concept has the makings of a saccharine Hollywood script. But these are good, painterly paintings. The 11 works on view at Inman Gallery demand that you spend time with them, examining each quick, thick brush stroke, noting the acute attention to detail in every puff of chest hair or thin mustache — a remarkable task, given the abstract quality of the work — and returning the gaze of each of the male subjects. The subjects sport jeans, khakis, security uniforms and, predominantly in this show, fútbol attire, soccer balls held close to their sides. One subject chose to go topless, leaning against a table, a perfect illustration of the raw honesty that these portraits convey. The unique expressions on each of the subjects' faces are also remarkable. The eyes — seemingly the same black pupils on white — are all uniquely expressive. Their postures, too, are carefully composed, arms fiercely crossed, or hands casually in pockets. All the men are painted against more free-form blocks of pastels. In some spots, these backgrounds aren't complete, revealing the white of the canvas. This unfinished quality gives the pieces a hurried feel, an appropriate sense of time and labor spent. I do have one serious gripe with Sonsini's admirable work, though — where are the ladies? Through February 25. 3901 Main, 713-526-7800. — MD

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Meredith Deliso
Contact: Meredith Deliso