Capsule Art Reviews: Hot and Grounded, "Michael Guidry: How soon is now?," "Neva Mikulicz: Recent Work," "Susan Chen: Butterflies Shift North"

Hot and Grounded "Art" in bars usually runs to beer signs, posters or maybe lame paintings by friends of the owner. But Ariane Roesch's new installation Hot and Grounded at 13 Celsius, a hip wine bar in an old dry cleaner's building on Caroline Street, is pretty amazing. Roesch created a luminous network that alludes to the kinds of connections people make in bars. From the street you can see glowing red and green wires angling across the ceiling of 13 Celsius. Inside the bar, they run down the walls and terminate into photographs silk-screened on frosted Plexiglas. In one corner, the lines disappear into an image of a control box operated by a man in a lab coat. Across the room, red lines end in bottles of German wine. The lines run into the courtyard; at the back of the bar, by the bathrooms, the radiant red wires connect to an image of an embracing couple, extending from the man's eyes to the woman's heart. Or is it her boobs? The combination of the network of lines and the talking and laughing crowd made the bar feel like a factory producing human interaction. Roesch's man in the corner seemed to be throwing the switch to turn things on, activating the wine and causing embracing couples and bar hookups. Rather than just art shown in a bar, Roesch's work seemed to energize the whole space, with the people and the art forming a complete circuit. Through February 14. 3000 Caroline, 713-529-8466. Closing reception: 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, February 13. — KK

"Michael Guidry: How soon is now?" There's a whole lotta taping going on at Wade Wilson Art. Michael Guidry's new paintings are filled with angled chunks of color executed with the kind of crisp edges you can only get through excessive use of masking tape. You'd never know it, but personal photographs are the point of departure for Guidry's abstract paintings. Rather than breaking up the photographic images through smeary expressive brushstrokes or distorted pixilation, Guidry fractures the images into chunks of flat, solid color. The shards of cool blue and earthy green evoke lush, exploded landscapes. Through February 14. 4411 Montrose Blvd., 713-521-2977. — KK

"Neva Mikulicz: Recent Work" Artist Neva Mikulicz loves driving, and this self-proclaimed "Ford gal" has incorporated her passion into her work. It's not just about the act of piloting a vehicle; Mikulicz has an obvious nostalgia for the highway culture of the '50s and '60s. In her show at Anya Tish Gallery, Mikulicz presents pencil drawings based on found vintage photographs — with cars. Drawing from photographs is not an inherently exciting concept, but the artist wryly inserts video into her beautifully executed images. In one, a woman with bouffant hair and pencil skirt perches on the tail of a fastback Ford Mustang. She looks a little like Tippi Hedren. The circular rearview mirror is cut out and a video of receding highway plays underneath. That tiny circle of color and movement transforms the image. In other works, the drawings are more elaborate and use snippets of old movies and TV programs to enrich their sense of nostalgia. It's interesting and unexpected work. Through January. 4411 Montrose Blvd., 713-524-2299. — KK

"Susan Chen: Butterflies Shift North" Susan Chen's installation in the funky artist-run space Skydive looks like a model shop for some low-budget film. Chen has created a series of tiny, island-like constructions and hung them from the gallery ceiling. Clusters of white Christmas lights dangle from the ceiling as well, creating a DIY night sky. The "islands" are little nuggets of the surreal. In one, a tiny plastic Jabba the Hut is plopped on a chunk of Styrofoam, er, polar ice. Other constructions are Apocalypse Now jungle-y. In a video projected on the opposite wall, Chen's quirky and goofy constructions are transformed, becoming stars in an elegant and otherworldly environment. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...Through January 31. 3400 Montrose Blvd., suite 907, — KK

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Kelly Klaasmeyer
Contact: Kelly Klaasmeyer