Capsule Art Reviews: October 16, 2014

"Jorge Marin: Wings of the City" This installation at Discovery Green has nine wonderful sculptures by an acclaimed Mexican sculptor; some are powerful, some playful, some enigmatic, but all are filled with a love for and an appreciation of humanity that is breathtaking and admirable. Though they represent a higher order of being — most are winged — they have retained their humanity. Abrazo Monumental (abrazo is Spanish for "embrace") is a pietà-like sculpture of a winged angel holding a dying woman. El Tiempo shows a wounded soldier, his face intact but his head shattered and missing, and his arms severed as well, yet he remains watchful and alert, resolute, courageous, kept alive by his dedication and his need to protect the city. One sculpture is interactive: It's a pair of giant bronze wings with an opening for the visitor to stand in and be photographed wearing the wings. Titled Alas de Mexico, it is playful indeed, and early on a Saturday evening it was very active, with visitors waiting their turn. There are six winged sculptures, and three that are not winged. Split Monumental has a gymnast with a hawk mask, short hair, balancing on his hands on a globe. Equilibrista 90 Monumental shows a masked gymnast supporting himself with his hands on a globe, his legs stretched straight out, in an elegant line. Hombre Universal Monumental shows a man standing on a large open ring of metal, holding onto it at its top, with outstretched arms, an homage to and an echo of Leonardo da Vinci's sketch of the Vitruvian Man, probably the best-known drawing in the history of art. Through February 8. 1500 McKinney, La Branch at Lamar, 713-400-7336, discovery — JJT

"One of a Kind: Artwork from the Collection of Stephanie Smither" Stephanie Smither is an avid and perspicacious collector of folk art, which is made crystal clear in an engrossing exhibition of works from her collection. There are pieces from more than 30 artists, many of them self-taught, some internationally recognized and some emerging, and some of the work is by unidentified artists. One sculpture (the artist isn't identified) is made entirely from wire, a tribute to a wedding bower. The central focus is on a driver controlling two donkeys pulling a carriage. On either side are two large heart-shaped holders of photographs, one of a man and one of a woman, presumably the betrothed couple. It sings of love and devotion, and its intricate design and detail testify to the artistry of the unknown sculptor. Clarence and Grace Woolsey were an American couple in Iowa whose medium was bottle caps. They passed away in 1987 and 1992, respectively, but left behind more than 200 sculptures created or covered completely in bottle caps. Surprisingly, the effect is not metallic but provides rather the look of fabric — the caps nestle one into another, with the edges exposed. An untitled bottle-cap work is on display, a cross between a scarecrow and a gingerbread man — droll, indeed. Another anonymous sculpture is made entirely of toilet paper, a finely detailed creation of a two-master, elegant, under full sail and almost all-white. The cabin is below deck, open to view, and it is finely done, including a table and chairs. Art League Houston has named Smither the 2014 Texas Patron of the Year, with the award presented at the annual gala, on Friday, October 17 at Hotel ZaZa. Ticket and table purchase information are available by contacting Jill Nepomnick at 713-523-9530. Through November 1. 1953 Montrose, 713-523-9530, — JJT

"Pepe Mar: Parco Dei Mostri" The Miami-based artist Pepe Mar has created a highly personal exhibition, a trip down memory lane. It has three elements: a large, richly textured window-box collage; a wall-size bookcase filled with objects that fascinate Mar, some of which he made and some of which are found art; and, surprisingly, four framed shirts that Mar has worn, three by Versace. The title of the exhibition refers to the "Park of Monsters," a 16th-century outdoor sculpture "garden" in Bomarzo in northern Italy composed of many larger-than-life-size sculptures, including one of Hannibal's elephants mangling a Roman soldier. That the Parco dei Mostri left a strong impression on Mar is no surprise, since it also captured the imaginations of Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dalí. Mar, like the park of Bomarzo, intends not to please but to astonish. I was certainly astonished to see those four shirts that Mar had worn included as such a major part of the exhibition; they are beautifully framed and displayed. The bookcase is worth considerable study — it reveals a keen eye for found art, and a rich sense of humor. There are scores of objects, so leave time to savor them. The major work is The Cabinet of Dr. Mar — here in a shadow-box collage is where some of Mar's "monsters" emerge to do their work, but the art here is so complex as to defy description. Lest one be overwhelmed by the extraordinary detail, I suggest concentrating first on one section, then perhaps on another, to get a feel for the artist's intention. Mar gives a lot of himself here, and requires a lot from his audience as well. This exhibition reveals a powerful artist with a far-ranging sensibility. Through October 25. DiverseWorks — Midtown, 4102 Fannin,  713-223-8346, — JJT

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