"Lester Julian Merriweather: Chopped and Screwed" Lester Julian Merriweather samples pop culture for his drawings, and among his sources are magazines put out from the '50s to the '80s -- publications like Jet, Tan, Life, Time and Ebony. The title of his show is a reference to Houston's own brand of hip-hop -- "screwed," slowed-down songs that are "chopped" and intermingled with themselves. It's not unlike the process Merriweather goes through with his art as he extracts snippets from the media and corporate party lines and processes them through his own stream of consciousness. In his neat pen-and-ink drawings, text and image intermingle. A primly executed image of a disembodied bow tie and an Oscar are accompanied by musings about Halle Berry and Denzel Washington's Academy Awards. A text-heavy work focuses on Marcus Dixon. Another drawing pairs an image of a black man with an altered Brillo box as Merriweather goes post-pop on Andy Warhol. The Brillo box with "rust resister" now reads "Trill" (triple-ill) with "bust resister." In another work, he manipulates the Campbell's soup can. With a fluency in politics, pop culture and art history, Merriweather's work creates multiple entendres. Through October 22 at DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 713-223-8346.
"Reading Between the Lines" Dressed like an engineering geek in a striped tie and a short-sleeved dress shirt with pocket protector, Nate Larson inserts himself into his own photographs as he explores the paranormal. His black-and-white photos include neat lines of text that record his experiments and tales of mysterious signs and events, like the appearance of rocks on his doorstep. The artist addresses our curiosity about the supernatural with the wit and sense of irony that temper his own desire to believe. Also in this group show, Juan Miguel Ramos's work tells a San Antonio urban legend -- that if you stop your car in neutral on the railroad tracks, the ghosts of children who died there will push you to safety -- using bilingual text, photographs and animation. Ramos's approach to images creates a work that feels part Blair Witch Project, part MTV -- in a good way. Victoria Crayhon uses text for her own disconcerting ends by commandeering theater marquees. Her photographs record her interventions, like the one in which "OH GOD" is written on one side and "I LOVE MY LIFE" on the other. In Houston she took a crack at the 4819 Main marquee. Drive by and take a look. Through October 22 at the Houston Center for Photography, 1441 W. Alabama, 713-529-4775.
"William Wegman: New Paintings" Everyone knows William Wegman's dog pictures, those witty photographs he stages with his Weimaraners. But Wegman also makes paintings, and his humor runs through this work as well. On view at Texas Gallery, his paintings are built around an assortment of kitschy postcards. Wegman glues them to the canvas and then extends their images with paint, working the disparate collection of images together into compositions. Blue Bays (2004) pieces together a landscape. There's a postcard from some goofily named place in Finland -- oh, wait, they all have goofy names -- and images of the London Bridge, Del Ray Beach, Mount Fuji, the Rockies...Meanwhile, Museum (2005) builds galleries around a bunch of artwork postcards with oddball inserts such as an image to two 1960s-looking women operating massive punch-card machines. Wegman has a great eye for kitsch, and while it can be entertaining to play "find the hidden picture" with the paintings, overall, they aren't successful. Wegman just doesn't do a good job of composing the works around the postcards, and the majority of the paintings feel too awkwardly pieced together. It's not a bad idea, he just doesn't execute it well enough. Through November 12. 2012 Peden, 713-524-1593.