Capsule Art Reviews: July 24, 2014

"Altered Angles: George Grochocki & Shayne Murphy" Two very different painters are having their work shown at the sleek Anya Tish Gallery — both take chances, and are courageous. George Grochocki seems minimalist but gives a lot, relying on three-dimensional shaping and the wit of almost-hidden color accents to add drama. All Quantities are Straight Unity is all white and has two vertical pillars, each with four varying recesses. This could be a maquette for a futuristic apartment house, or for an IKEA bookcase to house computers that will one day dominate us with elegance of design. His color accents come into play in Pluralities of the Plane Fall into the Unity of Shape, white with some black, where a small panel of pale gold color seems to want to escape a confining structure. Shayne Murphy has two paintings suggesting action figures from a graphic novel. Their titles, Blight and Calamity, hint at deeper meanings, which escape me, but I admired their vivid vigor. Remains of a Grimace has an air of mystery, purple globules piled behind restricting fragmented walls. St. Helena's Discotheque is my favorite, a building and its sidewalk floating mid-air like a figment of the imagination, but detailed in its depiction of trees and their shadows, with large blue vanes on a seemingly authentic roof — the vanes are yellow and purple on the edges. There is a solitary walking male figure who's wearing a shirt emblazoned with what I took to be the flag of Italy, with green, white and red vertical stripes. The work reveals the richness of Murphy's imagination, his dexterity and a cheerful outlook devoutly to be encouraged. Through August 15. 4411 Montrose, 713-524-2299, — JJT

"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

"Martin Durazo: Territory & Owen Drysdale: Plinth" Martin Durazo paints large — Empire is 60"x48" — and uses pink, blue, white and yellow to create variety. There are black lines that add emphasis, and blue and white circles, seemingly stenciled, that add another element. The result is colorful but cold. Territory is even larger, with some of the same colors, but with purple oblongs to shape its composition. Castle has a dominant yellow-green object bottom center, balanced by a much smaller red bar at center top. The bottom figure is ambiguous — it echoes the shape of a Niki de Saint Phalle Nana. I liked Trance III, with a vertical large blue oblong at upper right, two red-magenta horizontal stripes to add energy, and two yellow-green additions. The blue launches us into the painting, the red leads us on and the yellow-green seduces. Geyser omitted vivid colors and settled for black and gray and white, and blue for the water; it has energy and mystery. Owen Drysdale is a subtle artist, offering up visual haikus that suggest rather than illustrate. I liked 1br/1bath, oil on panel, bluish-black, pale orange and a few other pastels to boot. Leaden Prospects, paradoxically, has an airy, fluid aura. Embankment 2 suggests that the color splashes may be a window into something — perhaps the soul. His smaller paintings, 12"x9", are more successful because of their limited size, since the colors here control their environment. On this scale, the ideas seem more fully developed. Through August 30. Barbara Davis Gallery, 4411 Montrose, 713-520-9200, — JJT

"Tradition and Translation: Extension of Nature" Two Japanese artists share an exhibition of consummate subtlety and artistry. Mari Omori's work embodies the fragile sensitivity of the female principle. Masaru Takiguchi's sculptures embody the strength and virility of the male principle. Omori's fragile works, however, are also powerful, and Takiguchi's tough-minded sculptures show a sensitivity that is remarkable. Omori uses tea bags, or tea bag packaging, as her medium, though the casual viewer wouldn't know it. Her Sun Dial is a richly textured but quiet extravaganza with a spiraling effect, the outer edges seemingly serrated. It is composed entirely of hundreds of the envelopes that tea bags come in. In Omori's vessel iii, a beehive is enclosed in a dark brown wrap, open but tied together, with the ties echoing antennae, ominous and threatening. A companion piece, vessel ii, is pale, almost white, and filled with empty tea bags arrayed to create a sense of fluffiness. The result is a fascinating contrast as a bonus. Takiguchi works in wood, stone and metal, creating abstract sculptures that provide no narrative but rely instead on graceful curves and richness of materials to enchant the viewer. Be sure to spend time with Memory of Butterfly, in richly veined walnut, and marvel at how hardwood can be transformed into soft, sprightly curves. Wind and Rain is made from pine, as individually carved wood segments are arrayed to create a spiral staircase — powerful, evocative and haunting. In stone, Takiguchi uses Tennessee marble for The Wave and Spring Haze, and Brazilian black granite for his Night Ocean, pairing a glossy exterior with a textured interior. The artwork is presented by Arts Brookfield in cooperation with Hooks-Epstein Galleries, Inc. Through July 30. Total Plaza, Lobby Level, 1201 Louisiana, 713-336-2280. — JJT

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.