"Earl Staley: The Resolution of Doubt" Earl Staley seems to be forever reinventing himself, and his latest exhibition at Zoya Tommy Gallery includes a number of approaches. His Wonderer suggests the chaos present as the physical world was formed; a vertical sliver of red controls the center against a background of irregular blues and dark reds, while a pale green grape-shaped blob seems to have turned into something more definite. It's mysterious and intriguing. Resolution of Doubt has a dominant black mass at the left, perhaps a celestial orb, with a magenta comet with a pale green core hurtling toward it. A collision seems unavoidable, adding a sense of awesome expectancy. Mystery is the most specific of the paintings and is cerebral rather than emotional. Its lower section represents the ground, yellow dots on green earth, and there's a mottled green-gray sky overhead. Floating in the sky is a fragment of something, a figure that's irregular on the right edge, as though the fragment had been torn from a larger square. There is a deliberateness here that is powerful. Posted is the most determinedly cheerful, with a vertical blue figure shaped like a sled, airy and rich in pastel colors. Kite is a lighthearted painting, one side of a box kite that is trailing a red plume, which may be smoke or blood. Naples is the most complex painting, an onrushing force to the left, a purple center, perhaps the engine of destruction — or of creation. Staley lived in Rome for four years, and, judging by this painting, may have had some powerful experiences in Naples. An artist and teacher with more than 50 years of experience, Staley is in charge of the fine art program at Lonestar College-Tomball. Through November 15. 4411 Montrose, 713-523-7424, zoyatommy.com. — JJT
"Evidence" The d.m. allison gallery presents both emerging and established artists and manages to exhibit a great number of works, somehow attractively arranged, in its fairly intimate space. Wit is often in play, as well as innovative approaches. What is truly beautiful can be decorative as well and can rise to the level of stunning art. Such is the case in this group show with Allurement, by Erika Pochybova-Johnson, a portrait of a peacock, head turned, perhaps to admire its own magnificent multicolored train. Self Portrait by Mel Chin is a multiple etching that has no background but shows an American bison in a staring contest with a hare one-twentieth its size. Amusingly, the hare appears to be holding its ground. Self Portrait's appeal is in its straightforward simplicity and of course the skilled hand of a master at work. Houston-born Chin is internationally famed for a variety of hugely successful conceptual art projects. The gallery's gift for wit is evident in Kelly Moran's Hokey Pokey, three-dimensional figures of a cowboy and a cowgirl. Similarly, her Piggly Wiggly has fairy-tale figures in front of an open fridge. Both works are vivid and droll, employing found objects. Chinese Foo Fighters Cabinet, by Noah Edmundson, is a shadow box, a cabinet with doors open to reveal two fighters in elaborate costumes and a finely detailed Oriental landscape painting on the inner wall of the cabinet. It has style, a sense of history and huge dramatic energy, and is an absolute delight. Rock Romano's acrylic on canvas Buddha in the Mosh Pit is the most detailed, filled with figures and actions, a bit intimidating as there is so much to see. I settled for enjoying the sweep of its fascinating energy. Through November 8. 2709 Colquitt, 832-607-4378, dma-art.com. — JJT
"Paradiso" Danny Rolph offers us a hint of the future to come, in nine major paintings, acrylic on canvas, completed this year or last. It is a utopian future, airy, bright, with open spaces, colorful, filled with vibrant energy. The exhibition might have been called "Dragster," as there are three paintings that reveal Rolph's fondness for high velocity. Dragster 5 may be the most powerful in the exhibition, dazzling with vivid colors. Luscious red lips reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe's entice at bottom left, suggesting sensuality or perhaps the reward for a victory; it is a delicious ferment. Dragster 2 is complex (they all are), and most directly suggestive of roads, leading to a vortex. In Dragster 4, two teal-colored flat planes are centrally located and dominate, giving the impression of floating in space. Paradiso 3 has a festival feeling, a holiday party with decorations strung on a line, lighthearted and gay. Paradiso 7 consists of two panels providing one image, an accelerating arrow leading left. We sense that something important lies ahead, but know not what it is; it's an enigma. Enterprise 18 has the most formed of Rolph's utopian visions, as though the whirligig had slowed and jelled into a civilization. Central here is a distinct image of a multicolored pyramid, and there are clear blue skies. The painting is cheerful and inviting, but is the pyramid a reminder that even Utopia will have its day and then be gone? Version consists of multiple panels, horizontal but for one image, the future to come, as yet unformed, challenging. Enterprise 15 is from a formed world, with an overhead fan, perhaps an office chair, and a large blue image, perhaps a ship carrying cargo and, yes, an American flag. Through November 15. Barbara Davis Gallery, 4411 Montrose, 713-520-9200, barbaradavisgallery.com. — JJT
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"Scribble Morphings" The scribbles over these acrylic-on-canvas paintings document that H.J. Bott has a sense of humor and refuses to take himself too solemnly, though this in no way undermines his seriousness as an artist. There were several paintings that I thought stood alone as completed works and the scribbles detracted, and at least one where the scribble seemed necessary for completeness. Matching Your Drapes employs blue and brown colors in a directly cubistic design, and the scribble seemed to me to interrupt a most successful arrangement. Mobius Quatro, on the other hand, would look unfinished without the scribble. In Free Zones, the scribble is essential to create the impression of a stained-glass window. And in NARRATIVE: Generals, Decorated, the scribble serves a wonderful though deliberately ambiguous purpose — it may be either an endorsement of the military battle ribbons or a cancellation of them, all against a background showing the earth as viewed from space. The largest and most complex painting is a double panel, tilted at an angle, with checkerboards and yin and yang images. There is a sense of planning and of architecture, and the scribble here is probably essential to getting us past the large center of subdued colors. In OH-GEE, the scribble is dominated by an in-your-face black background and large greenish shapes, each resembling a comma. These paintings are all recent, but the gallery has included one large one, 66" by 50", done in 2000, Landscape Rhetoric, which is stunning in its warmth, grace and subtlety. There appears to be a transparent fabric curtain, shielding but not impeding the view of what lies within, unknown but holy. Through November 15. Anya Tish Gallery, 4411 Montrose, 713-524-2299, anyatishgallery.com. — JJT