Capsule Art Reviews: June 26, 2014

"Bob Schneider: We Invented Love" The artist Bob Schneider is torn in different directions. Part of him wants to teach or intrigue us with ideas. Part of him wants to cater to his keen visual sense. And part wants to demonstrate his skill with the intaglio process, incising directly onto steel plates. The exhibition title comes from his recently published book of poetry and art collages: "We invented love somehow, and without mercy or instruction, half a head coming out of the water in the night." I admired enormously a sculpture of a phrenologist's head; the front of it has slipped partially off, revealing a human face behind a ceramic mask. The head and face are covered with a detailed world map, extending past a sculptured neck onto a box with an open door, within which lies...a rock. The work is complex, significant and witty, elements that play to Schneider's strength. There are five works painted on slightly weathered windows, seemingly jocular, and deliberately thin. Schneider has an affinity for severed limbs — these are sometimes intriguing but not necessarily comfortable to be around. One etching stands out for its originality and power, The Wild Melancholy — a torso with multiple male genitalia. The mouth and a male organ have balloons with lettering issuing from orifices. "Wild," indeed, and "Melancholy," since the man's arms are severed, as is his right leg. Schneider intends to challenge us, and perhaps is too successful at it. He has enormous gifts — it will be educational to follow his progress as he continues to explore different paths — one of them may lead to greatness. Through June 28. d.m. allison gallery, 2709 Colquitt, 832-607-4378. — JJT

"Jim Nolan: Apropos of Nothing" The name Art Palace may suggest royalty, but its current exhibition is deliberately lowbrow. Jim Nolan loves plastic flowers, and makes good use of them in this, his second solo show at Art Palace. Nolan can paint beautifully — see his Flower Portrait Pink — but even here his demon imp has added, unobtrusively, the bar-code tag. Very in-your-face is his ABV#4 — w/ Bottle, as colorful and attractive large dots clustered together are pierced by an actual three-dimensional beer bottle, ugly indeed, and that is its point — Nolan's irreverence is a send-up of an art world that sometimes can take itself too seriously. There's a refreshing cheerfulness about Nolan's art. His ABV# — Tight Cluster again has a cluster of large dots, in pale colors, and its simplicity is endearing, interesting and involving. The most ambitious work is My New Flag, composed of two large circles on the wall and on the floor a black backing for a round glass table top, resting on socks; I have absolutely no idea what it means — that is probably Nolan's point. Through July 11. 3913 Main, 281-501-2964, — JJT

"Lorena Morales: The Space Within" The intimate Galeria Regina has an unusual exhibition, "The Space Within," consisting of the visual art of Venezuela-born Lorena Morales, with each work accompanied by a poem by Houston's own Gerald Cedillo. Morales uses vivid colors on Plexiglas, often in geometric patterns, to create interest and tension. Featured here are a series of works with stripes in varying colors, and also a series that center on circles to capture the eye. The stripes are often interwoven, and the colors of the stripes can either contrast or segue into related tones. Pieces in the circles series are called "Chromospheres" — they tend to dominate the gallery space, as their vividness and concentric energy provide commanding power. There is a larger, attractive painting, Summer Sun, with orange and blue circles on embossed paper, that stands out because of its open, uncluttered space. Morales invited Cedillo to create poems inspired by her art. The result is interesting indeed, as Cedillo has a gift for expression and the capacity to view the world with original insights, poetically expressed with sincerity and quiet charm. Excerpted lines may illustrate this talent. For Summer Sun: "I was a cloudburst / full of grandfather clocks." Color Weave #2, mostly green and gray stripes: "Its longing stays / like salt on the tongue." For Color Weave #5, orange, red, magenta and purple stripes: "Don't stand on the world's chest." For the blue and green circled Chromospheres, he wrote: "...the fairy-tale land / of lost speech." Cedillo is from Rosenberg, and is an organizer for Houston's Word Around Town poetry tours. This is the fourth solo exhibition of Morales in the U.S., and last year she had an individual exhibition in Dresden, Germany. Through July 20. 1716 Richmond, 713-523-2524, — JJT

"Steamrolled IV: Balance" Art gatherings take many forms, but few are as dramatic as the annual creation of oversize woodcut prints, done this year at Saint Arnold Brewing Company on April 27 as a two-ton steamroller did the final inking. Rockin' Rollin' Prints selects a theme — this year it's "Balance" — and 75 artists created woodprints on 3/4-inch MDF or wooden boards, from 2'x3' to 3'x5' in size, the size of the drum of the steamroller. Many of the prints are juried into the fourth annual exhibition, sponsored by PrintMatters, with the juror this year the noted artist Yizhak Elyashiv. Some woodcuts are beautiful, such as Deceived by Tera Yoshimura, in which a naked Eve looks away from the apple as a huge serpent coiled around the tree tempts her; it is laced with tension. Perhaps the most complex is Marco Guerra's mysterious and haunting Balance, a night scene in an alley with a sign that reads "Don't be scared." A man on an old-fashioned bicycle is crossing a high wire, with no audience for the dangerous net-less daring. In another high-wire scene rich in humor, Ta-da!, by Mark Masterson and Monica Vidal, a man on a monocycle is cheered on by a woman who has lost her own balance on the wire. Black magic is treated with humor and wit by Yannini Taboada in This ain't nothing, as a male figure holds aloft in his left hand an infant while he stands on a page in a book of the occult. His left hand is grappling with a man, who in turn is fighting with the infant for some keys, while on the ground is a youth ignoring all this and calmly studying the book of sorcery. Through June 29. Gallery M Squared, PrintHouston 2014, 339 West 19th, 713-861-6070. — JJT

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