Capsule Art Reviews: February 12, 2015

"Field of Light" The stars have fallen on Discovery Green courtesy of British artist Bruce Munro and his "Field of Light" installation of illuminated fiber optics. For those of us who live in the nation's fourth-largest city, light pollution has made it impossible to see the more than 2,500 stars visible to the human eye, but we can see something almost as fantastic in the 4,550 radiant, frosted-glass spheres along the Brown Promenade. Mounted on springs and waving in the wind, the lights wax and wane like fireflies. At night, the fiber-optic cables feeding the lights glow hot white; the overall effect is similar to James Cameron's Avatar, in which "the trees and plant life of Pandora have formed electrochemical connections between their roots..." The exhibit is arranged in two long rows, each consisting of smaller square-shaped segments. The lights within any one segment will pulse with the same set of colors, but at various heights and arranged organically with the landscape, sheltered by our hundred-year-old oak trees. The spheres glow from within and emit colors almost hard to describe: purple-white, rose-peach, white-pink and white-lemon-yellow, as well as saturated purples, blues and greens. Seeing it in person, how you experience it depends on your age. Children yell out the colors as they change and, in spite of the rules against touching, feel compelled to reach out. Extended families enjoy a meal on the raised deck. Lovers stroll along the promenade arm in arm, echoing behaviors from long ago, albeit updated by technology. Adults sit on benches or walk the path, and stop to take selfies against the colored lights. Be sure to hashtag your posts: #dgFieldofLight. "Field of Light" shows best after dusk and continues through February 22. 1500 McKinney, discoverygreen.com/fieldoflight. — ST

"Mel Chin: Rematch" For the next few months, Houston-born and raised Mel Chin will be taking up practically the whole art atmosphere of the city with his 40-year retrospective. It's a progressive art feast so big that it takes four museums to hold it all. And as a special treat for hometown folks, there's even an added bonus of Chin drawings not included in previous stops in New Orleans and Saint Louis. Due at least in part to this retrospective, Artnet named Chin as one of only two Houston artists on its list of "The 50 Most Exciting Artists of 2014." Pick a nice day to see the show because you'll be driving all over town. And go with an open mind because your preconceptions about what art is will likely be soundly shaken. Chin has been called a "provocateur, environmentalist, activist, political subversive, community organizer, showoff and occasionally an artist; news maker, civic problem solver and a dreamer." Did you notice "artist" almost lost somewhere in the middle of all that? And you thought this was just another artist career retrospective. Wrong. This is not your granddad's idea of what makes art. Unless your granddad was Marcel Duchamp. But is Chin's work art or something else? Or does it really matter what we call it? As long as it helps us see things we might not otherwise see, goads us to think outside our usual box, motivates us to move in (positive) directions we might not take on our own? It is what it is — whatever that is, and you should take this opportunity to see it. Which is probably about as much as a prudent review should say. "Mel Chin: Rematch," Blaffer Art Museum, The University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun Road, 713-743-2255, blafferartmuseum.org; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 5216 Montrose, 713-284-8250, www.camh.org; Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore, 713-496-9901, asiasociety.org/texas; Station Museum of Contemporary Art, 1502 Alabama 713-529-6900, stationmuseum.com; and "Paper Trail and Unauthorized Collaborations," Art League Houston, 1953 Montrose, 713-523-9530, www.artleaguehouston.org. Check each venue for exact dates and times. — RT

"New Work: Group Show" A collective of ten artists, most of whom have shown at Zoya Tommy Gallery in the past, represents the swan song for this location but not for this gallery, which will reopen at 4102 Fannin on March 6. Marco Villegas's Long May She Wave was a standout, with its multidimensional layers of blacks on white and a thoughtfully placed breaking-waves stencil effect. Lindsey Nobel's Liquid Line offered a study of white-on-white fibrous synapses resting on top of the canvas with an almost organic floral portrayal of brain connections. Felipe Lopez invoked a hook theme with mixed results. White Degrees showed an architecturally perfect deep-blue sea with a solo hook riding the calm ocean waters. Between Then and Now featured a cobalt-blue hook suspended by filament, hanging like the sword of Damocles over a mirror. It was only Le Crochet Floraison that seemed unfinished, with its crudely painted double-stemmed flowers affixed to the wooden hook base with messily applied plaster. Thirteen pieces by the late Laurent Boccara, arranged horizontally and ranging in size from 7x5 to 10x8, collectively told a story of a man fascinated by maps, geography and ancient labyrinths. It was only later when I realized he also had worked as a field archaeologist. Eric Sall's Slice portrayed a futuristic Picasso-like organism with an embryonic dark center, rendered with meticulous edges and overlays of multisize leaves and resting on a smeared base of red stars. His three other pieces used the similar technique of dark under painting, with an over-painting of oil, then a peeling away of patterned diamond and geometric shapes. Through February 26. 4411 Montrose, 713-523-7427, zoyatommy.com. — ST

"The Reductive Landscape: Paintings & Drawings by Jack Boynton and McKie Trotter" Prepare yourself for a journey into darkness at William Reaves Fine Art with its current modernist exhibition. Boynton's Blind Beast, a monstrously large side profile of a flat-nosed mythical creature's head with coarse hair and yellow mouth against a somber gray background, is incredibly powerful. Dissection is almost certainly representative of the demise of this same creature, with the lightning-cleaved halves showing the fading heartbeat on one side, the empty void of life on the other, and a cataclysmic background of iridescent green. Boynton continues the macabre theme with the riveting Reflections, a darkly ominous creature with a caged face, fiery embers for eyes and brush strokes of chaos on its torso, backlit by an emerald-green glow. Trotter and Boynton met at Texas Christian University and evolved their relationship from teacher and student to professional colleagues. They introduced a reductive form of landscape painting by reducing the light to its simplest terms. Many of Trotter's works are dark, but I favored the brighter Earthscape With Sea (Fields) and Earthscape #14, both relying heavily on the orange and russet tones, but to different effect. Fields portrayed a stormy turmoil-filled sky, with the lower two-thirds composed of vertical crops of teal, green, gold and yellow, expanding in their growth off the canvas, while the other promised peace and calm in spite of its red cloud sky. The gallery is offering a lecture on Saturday, February 28, from 2 to 4 p.m., with Sarah Beth Wilson, who once worked for Boynton as a freelance curator. Through February 28. 2143 Westheimer, 713-521-7500, reavesart.com. — ST

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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.
Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney