Capsule Art Reviews: July 10, 2014

"The American Landscape" at Meredith Long & Company features the work of Larry Horowitz, but the paintings by William Anzalone capture the imagination as well, and a number of artists in this group show stand out with a single painting each. Michael Coleman's Sneaky Approach is a fascinating tableau in which a fox hides behind some shrubbery near a river stream while two birds (plovers?) wade upstream, creating a sense of the suspense before the pounce. The light on vegetation holds the eye, adding a calmness that is vividness itself. Al Barnes's Ghosting presents a two-masted sailboat towing a small barge while seagulls circle overhead. Trees and an interesting sky complete the maritime picture. William Anzalone's In and Out of Clouds dominates the gallery with its striking blue and orange sky; a small, distant barn; and wild grass in the foreground, ample but unobtrusive. The view is seen from a window, but, wait, is it? There is vegetation in front of the window, as well as past it, a wisp of surrealism. Anzalone foregoes subtlety in Fallen, where a huge tree has been toppled, filling the space, supplemented with purple vegetation under a pale-orange sky. The branches still threaten, reaching out like alien tentacles. Larry Horowitz has a painting that's almost a seascape, as a pale-purple sky is reflected in the water, balanced by humans on a small beach, green elsewhere, with a distant building and a small sailboat adding a spark of variety. The contrast between the dominant sky and the insignificant land is intriguing, and the effect of the openness of the center suggests endless possibilities. The work indicates the hand of a master painter. Through July 24. 2323 San Felipe, 713-523-6671, meredithlonggallery.com. — JJT

"Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris" Charles Marville was an early and prolific photographer of old Paris, commissioned to record the before, during and after of Emperor Napoleon III's radical transformation that remade a medieval city into the first modern one. But these aren't the rose-tinted images of the City of Light we've come to love. Working from the 1850s to the 1870s, Marville made 425 often haunting images of a city about to be, and in the process of being, ripped apart to create the honey-hued boulevards we love today. The streets he shows us are eerily devoid of people. This is partly a result of the technical limitations of early photography — long exposure times meant that people in motion became only ghostly smudges. But the people weren't the point. In fact, the lives lived in those streets were irrelevant — obstacles to be displaced or crushed as the Baron Haussmann carried out the Emperor's orders to re-create Paris as his modern stage for imperial grandeur. We know what Paris would become, but the few people who stand stark still in these photos didn't. The Paris they knew was about to be destroyed, and that tension gives the photos much of their power. Marville didn't often present his photographs as art. For him, photography was a livelihood. But he was an artist to the core, and the art crept in. Through September 14. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7300, mfah.org. — RT

"Concealed Revealed" Hunter Gather Project is off the beaten track, ensconced on Gulfton Road just west of 610. It provides an opportunity for emerging artists to present work that may be experimental. The current exhibition, "Concealed Revealed," shows the work of three artists: Cathie Kayser, Sandria Hu and Sandra York. I liked Kayser's I Just Find a Line and Follow It, minimalist but rewarding, a collection of 18 line drawings — each about 8"x10" — framed as one work. The choices of line drawings are so rich that the eye hardly knows where to travel. Hu's work is more colorful and has a large element of "assemblage," as she incorporates different textures and materials, some intentionally discordant. Her Clay and Smoke 36 uses drab brown as its primary color, a sign of artistic courage, but it remains enticing since splashes of color enliven the work — even the ample use of white is welcome against this background. Usually abstract, in Budapest #8, Hu provides representational dark tree branches that dominate and intrigue. York's artist statement reads in part: "Whimsical lines and unrecognizable objects are the surprises. They remind us that it takes trust to face the unknown — life's mysteries." York ensures that the mysteries are not revealed, since she paints over more clearly defined objects or people to mask them, giving her art a dreamlike quality. Her quiet Mid-Century Still Life includes large but very shadowy sketched figures, what looks like a high chair for a child, some bowls for a still life on a sketchy shelf, and what I took to be a primitive horse, much like a cave drawing, in the background. Through August 23. 5320 Gulfton, Suite 15, 713-664-3302. — 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.