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.

"Dan Havel: House Divided" Dan Havel, along with Dean Ruck, deconstructed an old bungalow in Montrose to create Inversion, a traffic-stopping public artwork. This time Havel is working solo and constructing a small wooden bungalow -- sort of. His installation "House Divided" at DiverseWorks consists of a child's playhouse cut in half by a corrugated metal fence. The work is a part of several DiverseWorks shows exploring U.S./Mexico border issues. The fence alludes to the border and its planned Berlin Wall-ization. You can walk into the house, decorated with hunting-themed curtains and desert crossing-themed wall paper. Surveillance accessories -- binoculars and a camouflage Mag-Lite flashlight -- rest near a chair. A "night vision video" high in the corner of the gallery shows a masked man (Havel) taking a Sawzall to the unseen house on the other side of the fence. Nights after the gallery closes, Havel is working on cutting the house apart into "pieces representing the 30 states of Mexico." A pile of "smuggled" debris from the hidden part is the house is stacked below the video. The pieces will be "reunited to form a map of Mexico." The video of destruction, as well as the seen and unseen parts of the house, are all interesting ideas, but the installation's multiple references to the border issue become a little convoluted. Through December 16 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 St., 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.

"Witnesses to a Surrealist Vision" A 1950s Hopi Kachina doll based on Mickey Mouse, a coconut seed that looks like a butt and a creepy-looking 18th- or 19th-century "Wildman" leather suit studded with leather spikes from the dark recesses of Germany or Switzerland are among the 133 objects coexisting in the intimate space of "Witnesses to a Surrealist Vision," an ongoing show at the Menil Collection. All of the objects in this exhibition were either owned by the surrealists or are similar to those that they collected, according to the exhibition text. And the 130 remaining objects are all equally weird. Tucked into a small, darkly lit room in the back of the Menil's permanent surrealist exhibition, "Witnesses" is a treasure trove of amazing, eclectic objects. It re-creates the idea of the Wunderkammer ("room of wonders"), a cabinet of curiosities -- natural and unnatural, real and fake. It's a wonderful insight into the surrealist vision, as well as a provocative juxtaposition of objects from all over the world, with an emphasis on works from Africa and Oceania. The tiny space is one of the jewels of the Menil Collection, but one you might forget about in the midst of all its temporary exhibitions. 1515 Sul Ross, 713-525-9400.

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