Capsule Art Reviews: Frbeuary 5, 2015

"The Art of Celebration" Bright, happy colors, complex themes and a strong use of red are all evident in the exhibit "The Art of Celebration" at Nicole Longnecker Gallery, which features artists from Houston's Jewish Family Service's Celebration Company, a program for adults with disabilities. The common theme of this exhibit is joyfulness, and artist Ari Klein said it best: "I enjoy drawing because I am able to think out loud on paper." Standouts include Arthur Alexander's The Sun at Night, with a tiny little white sun on a blue background in the upper left-hand corner. The theme of houses is repeated in his works, and is executed beautifully in Gray Barn House. Inspired by Baytown's chemical plants, Ian Spindler used a more muted palette. The yellow red, The green apartment in baytown and The golden chemical plant/blue featured outlined linear structures; one sported red monster goblins, eponymous of leaked poisons and chemical spills. One could easily imagine Hiding, by Kevyn McIlveen, in a conventional art exhibit. Bright upward swirls of purple waves, cresting in a tumultuous sea with vulnerable boat adrift in the storm; it is beautifully executed. Melissa Shapiro's Birds and Rain reminded me of stained glass with their bright, saturated jewel tones. She used the opposite technique in Traffic, intersecting jewel-colored roads in a chaotic arrangement against a white background. Cari Cowen invoked dark, jungle-like colors from equatorial climates. Two of the smaller works, How to get dizzy with the letter C and Creation of the sky, incorporated swirling movements, inviting the viewer to follow the motion deeper into the center, all the while getting smaller and smaller. Tthrough February 14. 2625 Colquitt, 713-591-4997, longneckergallery.com. — ST

"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

"Portraits of Denial & Desire" In his current exhibit at Rice University, "Portraits of Denial & Desire," activist artist John Halaka focuses on displaced indigenous Palestinians and their stories of exile, resistance and survival. He has enlarged his photographs, stripped them of color and printed them as triptychs on blankets, which serve as both a symbol of protection and an illustration of the temporary nature of refugees. Ibrahim Essa is flanked by the crumbled ruins of structures overgrown by vines. His family had lived in the same village for 700 years, tracing their connections back to the early Christians of Galilee. Elias Wakim stands in front of a church, between images of fragmented bones and overgrown cacti. He watches over the cemetery, where once-decorated mausoleums are now desecrated. He is unable to leave, since the bones of his father are here, now mixed with trash and the strewn remains of other graves. Umm Aziz displays a poster of her sons, who disappeared in 1982 when hundreds of men were herded into trucks and taken away. She still searches for her boys, who would be middle-aged by now, she herself trapped in the unknowingness of their fates. Hamed Moussa, with piercing, alert eyes, was born around 1910 and lived more than 100 years. He was one of the few Palestinians who was not displaced from his homeland and who was permitted to farm his ancestral land. He never felt that the land belonged to him but rather that he belonged to the land. Through March 13. Rice University, Department of Visual & Dramatic Arts, Media Center Building, 6100 Main, Campus Entrance #8 (University Boulevard at Stockton), 713-348-4882, arts.rice.edu. — ST

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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