Capsule Reviews

DiverseWorks: J Hill's Sound Installations You can hear the Sonny Liston/Muhammad Ali fight in the bathroom at DiverseWorks. It's part of an ongoing series of sound installations by artist J Hill in the arts space's two public bathrooms. Hill dotted the walls and ceiling of the bathroom with speakers, transforming the toilet environment. For the first bathroom, Hill recorded himself at home watching the classic fight. In the background are domestic noises such as water running in the kitchen sink. You could hog the bathroom and listen to the whole match. The second bathroom includes sounds such as a teakettle boiling, birds chirping and, possibly, morning cartoons in the background. Hill is creating a kind of cozy intimacy not generally associated with public toilets as he lets bathroom patrons eavesdrop on his life. His sound installations run through May at DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 713-223-8346.

"Kim Squaglia" Kim Squaglia makes paintings that are so beautifully and sleekly crafted, they feel like design objects. She uses fabulous colors: the palest of sage greens, hot magentas, chocolaty browns, dusty pinks, a 1950's turquoise...Her looping lines, pours of color and carefully delineated biomorphically abstract forms float in and over thick, perfect layers of resin. The resin creates glossy and clear or matte and translucent strata, adding physical and visual depth to the artist's imagery. But the ultimate kicker is that while Squaglia's paintings have the visual and tactile appeal of ultra high-end designer objects, their quirky imagery keeps them firmly in the realm of fine art. Through February 4 at Finesilver Gallery, 3913 Main, 713-524-3733.

"Nina Bovasso: Pure Plastic Plastic par mano a mano" The color in Nina Bovasso's paintings is so vibrant, it strays into the neon. Her works are riotous affairs comprised of bold strokes and primarily abstract forms. The paintings are filled with circles, squares and grids, but there's nothing hard-edged about them; they have the air of a crazy quilt. The imagery is more drawn than painted, and it's executed in a determined but childlike manner. Loopy little flowers are tossed in for good measure. It's easy for an artist to throw a lot of colors and marks on the page, but controlling the cacophony is hard to pull off. Bovasso manages it with glee. Through December 30 at Inman Gallery, 3901 Main, 713-526-7800.

"White" The "White" show at Anya Tish Gallery is just that -- white. It's a group show organized around a color, or lack thereof. The exhibition includes some nice pieces, but in the pristine, monochromatic environment, even mediocre stuff looks cool. Two of the real standouts are by Elena Lopez-Poirot. In a side gallery is her sculpture in a glass bell jar swirled with "snow." Inside it, snow covers a group of tiny chairs and a table surrounded by trees. The entire scene is frozen in a pond of icy-looking resin. A tiny cake for a party rests on the table, buried under the snow that drifts across its surface. You can almost hear the wind whistling in the tiny melancholy world trapped within the bell jar. Meanwhile, in the main gallery, there's an ethereal cascade of feathers by Lopez-Poirot. They pour from seemingly fractured sheetrock in the ceiling -- as if the weight of the delicate things had come crashing through. It's an elegant piece, but it would be great to see it on a slightly larger scale and less restrained, perhaps even as an installation with its own space. The same goes for Andreas Kocks's wall works of thick white paper cut into large floral shapes. It's an interesting idea and nicely executed, but the arrangement of shapes seems a little constrained and rectilinear. They could easily sprawl across an entire wall. William Cannings presents an intriguing work in the main gallery. He creates sculptures by welding sheets of steel together and then "inflating" them -- forcing the steel to expand with air. White with a lush, pink-tinged pearlescence, his sculpture Crease has an element of the absurd; it looks like a plastic water wing left behind by a Bunyan-esque toddler. Through December 30. 4411 Montrose, 713-524-2299.

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Kelly Klaasmeyer
Contact: Kelly Klaasmeyer