Capsule Reviews

"KCHO: Every Man Is an Island" The artist Kcho was born on Cuba's tiny Isla de la Juventud. His work is imbued with melancholy, and this exhibition is filled with references to water, isolation, poverty and escape. Kcho's 2003 installation Para Olvidar ("To Forget") consists of an actual fishing pier he bought from fishermen and pulled out of Havana Bay. (He provided them with a sturdier replacement.) The pier is a meandering, ramshackle scrap-wood affair that bespeaks creativity from poverty -- a couple of the old tires used for bumpers are worn so smooth they shine. From such structures fishermen gaze out to the United States, a mere 90 miles away. But if physical escape isn't possible, clustered around the pier are cast-off bottles that once contained medicine, Coca-Cola, Havana Club rum...all arranged in the shape of the island of Cuba. Kcho also included a tiny cluster of bottles in the shape of his little Isle of Youth birthplace. In his 2005 series of charcoal drawings called Binoculars, the circular shapes of binocular lenses are set against a black background. They watch people in boats and inner tubes, fleeing and sinking. Through December 23 at the New World Museum, 5230 Center, 713-426-4544.

"Visual Language" "Visual Language" at Mackey Gallery includes work by Ronald Moran. Moran coats things with sheets of fluffy-white polyester batting. He then creates life-size narrative compositions out of his quotidian objects -- there's a chair with a belt draped over it, an ironing board and iron, a school desk. The results are hazy and otherworldly, like furniture made from white clouds, a Hollywood set for heaven. At Mackey, he's built little corner backdrops for the objects that unfortunately stop the illusion short; the construction isn't seamless. He's apparently done entire rooms for other projects, and a larger space would create a more convincing environment here. Moran's photographs of his sets work best, creating contained, illusory images. But his paintings of the fuzzy objects are one too many variations on the same theme. They just aren't that well painted, and they aren't nearly as successful as the photographs or the compositions themselves. Through December 31. 5111 Center, 713-850-8527.

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Kelly Klaasmeyer
Contact: Kelly Klaasmeyer