Capsule Reviews

"Andy Moses: Vuelta" Andy Moses's work looks like interstellar plein-air paintings -- sunrises and sunsets from some other planet. Using pearlescent pigments, Moses creates luminous bands of color by what appears to be a combination of pouring and squeegee-ing; the lines of color, which lean toward deep cobalt blues and magentas, aren't marks made by a brush but by the fluid movement of paint. Moses's canvases have a slight convex shape that activates the surface of the work as the viewer moves past them; while these works don't provide the kind of optical experience that will stop you dead in your tracks, they'll certainly make you pause to admire them. Now, if only he didn't give them names like The Mind's Horizon. Through December 2 at McClain Gallery, 2242 Richmond, 713-520-9988.

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.

"Lance Letscher 2006: Here and There" For more than ten years, Lance Letscher has cut shapes from old books, magazines, ledgers and other paper ephemera to create abstract collages. A strategy like this could quickly turn into a gimmick, especially since Letscher's work has become incredibly popular. When that happens, it's often tempting for artists with a distinctive technique to start phoning the work in, relying on the novelty of the materials to carry it through. But somehow, Letscher manages to keep his work fresh, interesting and evolving. For his current show at McMurtrey Gallery, Letscher cuts paper into slender spirals, creating multicolored scribbles on the page. In other works, he densely fills the page with squares within squares to create Gustave Klimt-like patterns. Things go best when he keeps the focus two-dimensional -- the works that use actual books or ledgers as a base for collage aren't quite as successful. But "Here and There" is a satisfying show overall; Letscher's work manages to be highly decorative while remaining visually interesting. Through November 25. 3508 Lake, 713-523-8238.

"Magdalen Celestino: Puparium" Weird little animal-like latex figures are Magdalen Celestino's stock in trade. They are strangely engaging with their black rubber bodies splayed open and stitched together with blood red thread. A host of these figures are arranged on the wall of Mackey Gallery, but having seen similar work from Celestino so often before, I really wanted to see them evolve and change scale. I walked behind a black curtain into the back part of the gallery and lo and behold my wish was granted. There, hanging ominously on the wall, were three huge people-sized latex figures, one with a bear head, another with a wolf-head and another with a rodent-esque head. The large scale works really well but Celestino has cast the bodies from people and lost some of the quirkiness of her small figures with their handmade bodies and feet that end in curls and lumps and tubes. Meanwhile the show's Frankenstein-like elements -- blood in the latex and sculptures with sparking electricity -- just feel labored and extraneous. But there are promising changes overall and it will be interesting to see where Celestino goes next. Through November 19 at Mackey Gallery, 5111 Center, 713-850-8527.

"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.

"Ryan Geiger" Geiger's crisply executed paintings juxtapose a variety of surreal images. Geiger's painting style is wonderfully precise and reminiscent of 1950's illustration styles. In the works on view at Rudolph Projects/Artscan Gallery tree stumps, birds and clouds vie with rollercoaster tracks, text and weird floating stalactites. Using a vintage-looking color palate, Geiger produces large horizontal paintings with formal arrangements of painted borders and medallions containing images. There are several nice large works on view, but the surprising standouts of the show are the many small, tightly executed paintings. They aren't as elaborately composed as the larger works but something about paintings like Creator (2006) is really appealing. Creator has a background of curving, abstract forms but in its center floats a blue, brain-like cloud sprouting branches and roots like the dendrites of nerve cells. Geiger is a talented painter who seems to be getting better and better. Through November 25 at Rudolph Projects/Artscan Gallery, 1836 Richmond, 713-807-1836.

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Kelly Klaasmeyer
Contact: Kelly Klaasmeyer