Capsule Reviews

"Angel Rodriguez-Diaz/Carter Ernst" Angel Rodriguez-Diaz's hyperreal, kitsch-infused paintings depict luchadores, the masked stars of Mexican wrestling. But Rodriguez-Diaz isn't presenting his subjects in the ring. Instead, he paints intimate portraits with elaborate, lacy backgrounds. In these lushly colored paintings, Rodriguez-Diaz imparts incongruous psychological undertones to his subjects. One image, for instance, features a luchador posing with an arm behind his head like a pinup girl. Holding a silver hand mirror, he stares out at the viewer from the eyeholes of his sequined mask. The second gallery is filled with Carter Ernst's surreal Hydrocal sculptures of animals. The standouts are the ones for which Ernst seems to have draped animals in flowing fabric. In Apparition (Shrouded Dog), painted drapery covers the head of a canine. The piece is spooky, silly and elegant, all at once. Through June 24 at Rudolph Projects/ArtScan Gallery, 1836 Richmond, 713-807-1836.

"Dan McCleary" The title of the painting Man Weighing Himself (2004) by Dan McCleary pretty clearly describes what's going on in the work. A man in white pajamas stands in the doorway of a bathroom, looking down at the dial of a scale between his sock-covered feet. The scene is realistically painted, but with a clean, deadpan simplicity that's as crisp as a starched napkin. McCleary has a fixation with the everyday, and other works in the show depict such banal scenes as people in an office, a guy leaning over a diner counter and someone getting a haircut. McCleary paints from life, constructing his own sets for the scenes he renders. The details of the settings are simplified, with an emphasis on form that imparts a sense of gravitas to the most ordinary of scenes. The show also includes a couple of small forgettable paintings of the flowers-in-vase genre. It is McCleary's figurative work that is fresh and engaging. Through July 9 at Texas Gallery, 2012 Peden, 713-524-1593.

"From Myth to Life: Images of Women from the Classical World" The West has long lionized Greek civilization, but most Greek women probably wouldn't have agreed with the way their society has been idealized and romanticized over the centuries. Completely excluded from public life, Greek women rarely were allowed to leave the confines of their homes. "From Myth to Life: Images of Women from the Classical World" presents artifacts from the Celia and Walter Gilbert Collection that depict or were created for women. A red-figured calyx krater shows a scene of mythological domestic violence in which Lykourgos, euphemistically described as driven mad by the god of wine, has killed his son and is about to take out his wife. Other objects are more benign, like a slender but ornate gold stickpin topped with a tiny sculpture of Aphrodite and Eros. A tiny terra-cotta mouse possibly used as an infant feeder stands out as a poignant domestic artifact. Through July 31 at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7300.

"Inversion" It looks like someone shot a giant cannon at the old Art League studio building on Montrose -- you can see straight through it. Called Inversion, it's an amazing, traffic-stopping project; the elderly wooden bungalow has been transformed into a piece of art instead of an art studio. The culprits, Dan Havel and Dean Ruck, took the siding off the exterior of the building and used it to build a giant funnel-like tunnel that organically curves its way through the building. It looks like a wooden mold for a tornado. The site-specific work is up for only a limited time, until the demolition crew arrives to bulldoze the house to make way for a new Art League building sometime in mid-June. If only people had done something this great with the hundreds of other bungalows that have been obliterated in Montrose's town-home-ification. Through sometime in June. 1953 Montrose, 713-523-9530.

"The Orgies Mysteries Theater"Do you faint at the sight of blood? Here's a tip: Skip the Herman Nitsch show at the Station. It presents enough images of blood and guts to make an abattoir look like a paper cut. Nitsch is one of the core members of the Vienna Actionists, a group of artists who had their heyday in the '60s. His performances often use the bodies, blood and organs of food animals -- sheep, pigs, etc. -- that were (humanely) killed. They eat the animal afterward -- waste not, want not. Documentation of the events shows naked women and men blindfolded and/or restrained, with carcasses dripping on them or offal draped over their genitalia. But the sole point of the work isn't sensationalism, although that's an obvious by-product. In Nitsch's case, he presents his work as a link to something primal and base, providing a catharsis similar to that supposedly provided by horror movies. As the theory goes, if you immerse yourself in what you fear and what repulses you, you will transcend it. The work on view at the Station presents photographs, videos, objects and paintings. The spectacle of the artist's performances comes across best in a wall projection of rapidly changing images accompanied by an anarchic, oompah-pah, processional score composed by Nitsch. Sound is a big, and effective, part of the artist's work. The gory images move in time with the music, in such quick succession that you separate from what they actually are and instead focus on the spectacle. Through June 25. 1502 West Alabama, 713-529-6900.

"Terry Winters/Paintings, Drawings, Prints/1994-2004" For some artists, line expresses an effortless fluidity, but in Terry Winters's case, his marks are dense, hard-won efforts. And they dominate his art. While his abstract work contains some organic references, it is the dogged pursuit of the regular, scientific and mathematical that most permeates his work. In his prints, drawings and paintings, lines converge and overlap, and grids spiral and warp. Many of his marks seem to allude to computer-aided efforts to diagram and map and define three dimensions, but Winters is about as far as you can get from sterile digital precision. You can feel the effort involved in the layered and thickly scrubbed and brushed marks of his paintings. And yet somehow the work doesn't feel overworked or labored, just determined. When they succeed, Winters's networks of color and line fascinate and hold the viewer. Through July 10 at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 5216 Montrose, 713-284-8250.

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Kelly Klaasmeyer
Contact: Kelly Klaasmeyer