Capsule Art Reviews: October 30, 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

"Mokha Laget: Chromatic Constructs" Mokha Laget has broken free of "the tyranny of the rectangle," a straitjacket that many artists seem condemned to wear. Her shapes are her own, and they are refreshingly different. Laget's work has elements of architecture; while the paintings are two-dimensional, the images portray boxes, pathways, edifices that entice one to enter to explore their interiors — would that you could — and combinations that suggest mazes. Laget's work has vivid, striking colors, including an effective use of black, that seem to jostle each other — perhaps fighting for territory? The contrasts delight and the combinations entertain. She uses clay-based pigments on canvas, with the central theme of her work that each color field is an entity to itself — there is no blending, no softening, no blurring, just a color demanding its place in the sun. Ponte Vecchio, my favorite, has two strong vertical elements, the right one more multicolored than the left, joined at the middle by two irregular constructs. The title suggests a bridge, but it might just as easily be an abstract winged angel. Sahel is simpler, an elongated strip folded at the top and bottom, orange, yellow and purple; it has energy, style and even wit. The shapes in Butte do suggest a mountain rise, but the sharp edges suggest even more a protective castle wall for the habitat of a superior alien species, or perhaps a monolith left behind when they departed. Because of their striking, accentuated and framed colors and their wit, these pieces seem to be aperitifs rather than dinner. They whet the appetite, supply a delightful moment and merit careful scrutiny, and would serve admirably to brighten a room, or even a life. Through November 1. Sonja Roesch Gallery, 2309 Caroline, 713-659-5424, gallerysonjaroesch. — 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

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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.