Capsule Reviews

"Daniel Kayne: Urban-Mix" Walking into Deborah Colton Gallery, one is immediately struck by Daniel Kayne's large mixed-media prints, some of which resemble the cover art for New Order's Brotherhood album. The up-close, grainy photos of scraped and textured metal begin to take on meaning when juxtaposed with Kayne's postcard-size snapshots of graffiti art in Houston, New York and abroad. Two entire walls of prints make up Kayne's document to the unknown artist, and it's the display that makes this collection of images impressive; on their own, they'd make interesting, artsy postcards. Kayne is an artist to watch. "Urban-Mix" reveals his keen eye for documenting urban nature, especially things that become part of the landscape while nobody is watching. Through August 31. 2500 Summer, 713-864-2364.

"Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt" Each of the 70 quilts in this show is a testament to the utterly unique creative spirit that imbues the isolated Alabama community of Gee's Bend, an agricultural peninsula surrounded on three sides by the Alabama River. The work-clothes quilt is one of the most common creations to come out of Gee's Bend, especially in the earlier quilts. After denim overalls and khaki britches were worn beyond use, the scraps were not discarded; they were taken apart and used to keep one's family warm. A highly faded offering from Amelia Bennett anchors the section devoted to these works. Made in 1929, it's full of muted blues and dark patches that outline where pockets once were, providing curved spots of contrast in an otherwise rectilinear formation. Closer inspection reveals lines of thread bobbing across the quilt's surface, connecting the front to the back and presenting the viewer with a secondary pattern. Another section of the show is devoted to avocado-green, the quintessential color of the '70s. Sears Roebuck and Company contracted with the Freedom Quilting Bee, a Gee's Bend cooperative, to produce more than 100,000 pillow covers during that decade. The women kept all the scraps, and avocado-green, one of the five colors favored by Sears, entered the quilters' palette. It's easy to think of jazz parallels when looking at the quilts, and this is something critics did when reviewing the first exhibition. These women have learned the rules but they've chosen to break them, riffing off each other's styles in a comfy call and response. Through September 4 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7300.

"Light My Fire" Each summer Rice Gallery shuts down, but it installs a big artwork in its window to appease the summer students, visitors and faculty. "Light My Fire" is artist Lisa Hoke's contribution to the tradition. Known for her use of cheap, everyday materials -- plastic cups, neon drinking straws, rubber bands -- to produce bombastic, color-soaked installations, Hoke turned the gallery's 16- by 44-foot window wall into a wispy, abstract stained-glass panel using colored paper and hot glue. The painstaking process involved curling 100,000 strips of heavy paper and arranging them into mirror-image panels, which were attached to both sides of the window wall. The effect is mesmerizing. It's essential to view the piece from both sides of the window. From outside, "Light My Fire" burns with hot pink, orange and red, subdued by cool blue patches. It has texture; it's a trippy wall of light. From inside, the piece becomes fencelike, but made from curly filaments instead of wrought iron. It also fills the viewer's field of vision, evoking cinema -- the aquarium world of people and nature outside, seen through the installation, flickers like film. "Light My Fire" is a worthwhile 15-minute diversion for most. The chemically enhanced will want to assign a designated gallerygoer to drag them away. Through August 31. Rice University, 6100 Main, 713-348-6069.

"Teresa O'Connor: A Ghost Story, Part 1" Through video stations set up throughout her two-room installation at Deborah Colton Gallery, Teresa O'Connor introduces us to two characters: a woman called The Lounge Act and a man referred to as The Forty Something Male Singer. We're led to believe these two are in a relationship, though we're supposed to plug in the details. But then again, maybe they haven't even met yet. O'Connor's meticulous placing of vintage furniture, clothing, bric-a-brac and up-to-date technology doesn't naturally suggest that anything has necessarily "happened." There are wonderful touches everywhere. A glass and a coffee cup contain sticky residue of the liquids they once held. Abstract video of a crow repeats on screens throughout the space. A pink heart-shaped tray containing what look like half-eaten chocolates lies next to an ashtray choked with gold-tipped butts. A wall-mounted flat-screen TV displays photographs of the couple in question. An eerie tone fills the room, too, like an insistent droning, which is both repellent and oddly narcotic -- like a David Lynch film. In fact, experiencing O'Connor's bizarre realm must be what it's like to be in a Lynch movie, not as a performer or a crew member, but actually in the movie. Through August 31. 2500 Summer, 713-864-2364.

"Yigal Ozeri: The Montfort" If one doesn't look at the "Montfort" series closely, it's easy to mistake the pictures for blown-up color photos of a landscape with a ruined castle. Look too quickly and the series is even boring. What kind of delusional tourist blows up landscape snapshots of his vacation? Well, whether these paintings were based on snapshots or not, they're actually quite remarkable. Built by French crusaders in 12th-century Israel, the Montfort castle is a landmark to religious dominance, both awesome and awful. Ozeri's paintings, when examined up close, reveal the subtle details of the hilly landscape, which looks similar to central Texas, and subtle blurs in distant foliage assert themselves behind highlights in the foreground. From the right viewing distance, Ozeri's paintings offer a pleasantly meditative vibe and an elegant, cumulative force. They'll tell you when to stop looking. Through August 31. New Gallery, 2627 Colquitt, 713-520-7053.

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Keith Plocek
Contact: Keith Plocek
Troy Schulze
Contact: Troy Schulze