Capsule Art Reviews: May 29, 2014

"Ann Harithas: Memory" is the first exhibition of this artist after she recovered completely from what may have been a stroke last year, in which her memory and ability to recognize old friends were damaged. Harithas began reviewing old photographs, and her faculties and memory were restored. She works with digital image montages, and Memory Lane has two Asian men staring with interest at an off-canvas event, while a female child over the head of one looks directly ahead — is this a separate image, or is it the thought of the Asian, double-tasking? High School Prom has a photograph of a fresh-faced girl, innocent but expectant. What at first seems like a beret turns out to be a coiled rattlesnake, as sharks circle below. There is a medicine man, but can he protect her? A separate set of lips, heavily cosmeticized, suggests that sophistication lies in wait, whether Dad wants it or not. Dreams I Remember has a young girl reading peaceably by a window, with the scene covered with what seems to be a transparent, filmy fabric, except that it is instead an impression of brainwaves, and 16 globes circle her — these are brain scans. The work is complex, with emotional power. Brain Game is a large triple-image work of a young girl seated, with subtle variations. On the right she is on a ceramic seat, but in the middle and on the left, the seat is an open container. A picture of a brain on the right serves as her skirt, as her head in the middle and perhaps as a chandelier on the left. The contrast between the brain, the heavily patterned container and a stark brick wall adds a rich choice of textures. Through May 31. D.M. Allison Gallery, 2709 Colquitt, 832-607-4378, — JJT

"Funnel Tunnel" Clunky, streaked wood and wiry metal are the last things one would consider using to celebrate Art League Houston and the colorful Montrose neighborhood that surrounds it. Then again, talent is as talent does, and bare-bones as they may be, Patrick Renner's pieces are feats of size and color. Bounded Operator (2012) is a wall of windows glued together and filled with sand, rock and gravel, mingled with pieces of wood splashed in tie-dye, exchanging its windowpane aesthetic for a swirling metal one. The rainbow brightness of Wooddauber (2012) is one of many rainbow-colored chunks of wood from Renner's "Vestigial Structures" show exhibited last year at Avis Frank Gallery. The two pieces are combined to create "Funnel Tunnel," a metal-on-wood masterpiece so big that Art League publicly called on volunteers to help paint the wooden strips in the weeks before its opening. Before then, Renner could be seen blowtorching metal pieces together to create a wiry foundation for the wooden strips to attach to. It would, however, be inaccurate to describe "Funnel Tunnel" as skeletal. While other Renner pieces may come off as hollow, the wood and metal in "Funnel Tunnel" work together to create an artwork representative of the inclusive nature of the area around it. Those wooden strips? Painted in the hues of the rainbow, they very accurately represent the diverse people, businesses and culture of Montrose. The metal? Permanently melded together to hold the rainbow strips of wood, it represents the collectivity of this community. These materials create a 180-foot civic art sculpture seen whirling down the center of Montrose Boulevard. "Funnel Tunnel" will be on display in front of Art League Houston for the next nine months. 1953 Montrose, 713-523-9530. — AO

"The Inner Marilyn" Public fascination with Marilyn Monroe continues — the iconography of her image earned $27 million last year. The Jung Center has created a fascinating exhibition, curated from The Babydoll Museum, the private collection of Marie Taylor Bosarge, featuring Marilyn Monroe's personal artifacts, costumes and personal effects. The exhibition captures Monroe's magnetic power and her capacity to project a variety of personalities in photo shoots and films. Bert Stern photographed her in 1962, shortly before her death, and these colored photographs leap off the wall. In one, her hair is disheveled, covering her right eye, but the heavy-lidded left eye is enough to let us see why David fell for Bathsheba. There are photographs of Monroe when she was still a brunette; these capture a youthful openness and sweetness. In her last photo shoot, she exudes such joy and zest for life that it's difficult to believe she took her own life, as is surmised. One dress on display is full-length, gold and red, worn by Betty Grable in a film, and modified to add a train when worn by Monroe in River of No Return. These garments document her hourglass figure, as do the photographs of the nude bathing scene in Something's Got to Give — her physical beauty may take your breath away. There is a carved wooden chair with the upholstery punctured by Monroe's heel. A picture of her on this chair is an anchor, reminding us that though she has become a goddess, she once was as human as you and I. Through June 10. 5200 Montrose, 713- 524-8253, — JJT

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Altamese Osborne
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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.