Capsule Art Reviews: January 15, 2015

"Arranging Family" Photographer and sculptor Carlee Fernandez uses the central theme of family — and how the past intersects with the present and gives hope for the future — to demonstrate her centeredness and strength. Her reverence for her ancestors, who join her in spirit, allows her to create something larger than self in her first solo exhibition in Houston, "Arranging Family," at Inman Gallery. Family, Baptismal Cup, a larger-than-life bronze sculpture, was inspired by her husband's christening cup. She has meticulously added the names and birthdates for his ancestors back to Rufus (1804) and Emma (1809). Winding around from the other side, she also engraved her own family line, over seven generations, until they meet together with the birth of their sons, Xavier and William. It's a bittersweet tribute, lovely in its beauty but sad in the knowledge that the family tree must end here, since the cup is now full. The piece appears again in an archival print, Let This Cup Pass From Us, as the legs of her small family of four protrude out, with just the faintest glimpse of the tops of heads inside. Her strength is evident in self-portraits, including 2012, a 99x77 canvas featuring a "real" Fernandez alongside stuffed pillows of her nude family — bawling baby, wry-smiling son, and stern husband doing his best to be dignified without the protection of clothing. The Strand that Holds Us Together did not divulge too many secrets, other than that the mismatched hands shared traits such as short nails and familiarity; a palmist could divine more. The artist's notes indicate they are father and daughter, adding meaningfulness to this 53x71 archival pigment print. Through February 21. 3901 Main, 713-526-7800, inmangallery.com. — ST

"Conversations from the Satellites" There is an argument that the qualities attributed to schizophrenia — among them the inability to filter out irrelevant information — may be beneficial for creativity, allowing the individual to see connections others may not notice. J. Todd Allison, drawing inspiration from his father's struggle with that disease, has unleashed a futuristic, scientific and fantastic world at G Gallery. Harnessing the Lure features a serpentine creature; his wood-lined mouth offers up a knitting-hook tongue holding a hanger of seven polka-dotted chrysalis sacs. The background is a hazy, mysterious blue, obscuring hidden objects, flowers, ancient civilizations and faces. They were once great Dancers features a man wrapped in bandages formed of bent and twisted lumber, with the faint hint of pink suggesting a wound or injury. He bears the number 50, a remnant of dance competitions from days past. His dancing partner twirls in a beautifully tiered skirt of pliant lumber, with a stack of glass bell insulators serving as her head. Her semicircle arms of bent wood reach out, ready for the next dance. Darkness descends with Brotherly Love as our heroine appears in a scene with two truncated tree stumps. Floating above are not-so-innocent dartboards, poised like circular saw blades; one can almost smell the sawdust in the air. Equally riveting is Once a Harvester, which reveals a murderous ogre in butcher's apron — all fashioned with Allison's patterned, molded planks. Outer-space images are invoked in The Great Insulator as our intergalactic explorer sports a title belt in one hand, a glass diving bell held high. A rocket ship is poised to take off against a topographical backdrop of black and blue lakes, maps, monsters and creatures. Through January 30. 301 East 11th, 713-869-4770, ggalleryhouston.com. — ST

"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 green.com. — 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.
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