Capsule Reviews

"Color" If you were around in the '80s and looking at art, you probably remember Peter Halley. His Celotex-covered, fluorescent work was ubiquitous. But even if you're over Halley's stuff, you should check out his small silk screens in "Color" at Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery. It's a clean show of conceptually derived work with the common denominator of bright, geometric color. Halley has taken the square "cells" and linear "conduit" symbolism of his overexposed 1980s paintings and channeled them into dynamic patterns. And he's using some really great inks in fantastic colors -- there's that DayGlo orange you might remember, but there are also rich metallics and lush opalescent pastels. They're really gorgeous, concise works. The show also contains a large drawing by Melissa Thorne, who bases her concentric rectangles of vibrant color on the patterns of other people's crocheted afghans; a 1973 Frank Stella that's early enough to still be interesting; and a nice painting by Christopher French with crisp, bright circles of color levitating on the organically hued surface of raw linen. Through February 17. 4520 Blossom, 713-863-7097.

"Home and Garden" Organized by FotoFest as a part of its series of Inter-Biennial art programs, this show is full of strange takes on domesticity. There are works that are unsettling and funny and beautiful -- sometimes all at once. Curated with Jennifer Ward, the show features eight emerging Texas artists. Among the most promising is Marc Montoya, who scavenges vintage and frequently kitsch-infused 35-millimeter color slides from garage and estate sales, honing in on odd images the original photographer was seemingly oblivious to. In American Jihad I (2003), a teenage boy poses in big dorky headphones attached to a radio/walkie-talkie thingie. And in Blast Off the 4H Way (2003), a small boy on a 1960s parade float stands next to a huge red slightly flaccid, pretty darn phallic rocket. Another participating artist, Julie Ross, has a predilection for seeking American oddity that's similar to Montoya's. She shoots her subjects with a Polaroid camera and then pairs images together. In Untitled (Kitten for Sale) (2001), Ross juxtaposes an image of a JonBenet Ramsey-esque little girl with a shot of a prize-winning fluffy kitten. Other artists include Stephanie Martz, who tears pages from copies of House Beautiful from the '60s and inserts images from John Carpenter's Halloween into their interiors; Anderson Wrangle, who stages his own eerie scenes in affluent, upper-middle-class settings; and Michelle Grinstead, who pushes the domestic space toward the surreal, rather than the ominous, by projecting landscape vistas in banal household environments. This is a provocative, successful, sprawling show. FotoFest's headquarters make a good space, but with less of it, the organizers would have been forced to edit, which would've been a good thing. Through February 5. 1113 Vine, 713-223-5522, ext. 19.

"Lynne Woods Turner: Exquisite Drawings" These drawings are truly exquisite. Turner uses gouache and pencil to create works so delicate they look like stains. There aren't really any actual lines because their edges are ever-so-slightly modeled. You imagine these faint patterns of precise curving lines and grids of overlapping circles and lozenges could have been transferred from a book or piece of paper set atop them for years. Perhaps the original designs were just faded by the sun? How else could they appear so ephemeral? It is that very elusiveness that makes you peer at them all the harder. Turner has an incredibly subtle but engaging aesthetic. She executes these small-scale works on perfectly square pieces of paper; it is a static format that works well with her fragile and beautifully controlled patterns. Through February 17 at Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery, 4520 Blossom, 713-863-7097.

"Melanie Crader: Just in Time for Spring" "Just in Time for Spring" is a perfect title for Melanie Crader's new show. Crader takes colors and details from fashion and transforms them into paintings and sculpture. The fashion she draws from isn't edgy, contemporary stuff but the iconic, ladylike styles of the '50s and early '60s. Think scallop-edge slips, Doris Day suits with dyed-to-match pumps and coordinating handbags and hats. Crader also pulls vintage-perfect ad copy phrases for her titles. For You've made it; You deserve it, Crader sandwiches together multicolored pieces of wood with scalloped edging; a detail from lingerie or a summer sundress is extracted and abstracted. Who can resist is a silver painting whose lower right corner has been "lifted." It looks as if it's revealing a strip of pale blue lining and the white of a nylon slip. Other works like You're so special use panels covered with sections of wood that look like layers of crinoline. They're painted in toning shades of yellow, pink, green and blue -- just like a collection of spring coordinates. Crader is presenting some fresh and witty work. Through February 26 at Gallery Sonja Roesch, 2309 Caroline, 713-659-5424.

"Sandi Seltzer Bryant 2005: New Paintings" Judging from Sandi Seltzer Bryant's new show at McMurtrey Gallery, her work has undergone some interesting changes. The bold lines and unmitigated colors of the past are gone, having been replaced by blended and intermingled marks and well-scrubbed areas of color. While some of the works occasionally wander a little too far off into the decorative, the danger is not nearly so pressing as in previous exhibitions. The sections of color and the linear strokes have a pleasing, well-worn patina. They remind you of strong colors slightly dulled and faded by the effects of sunlight. Bryant has traded in the bright, cheery ease of her earlier abstraction for something that feels a little harder-won. The results are more rewarding for the viewer as well. Through February 5. 3508 Lake, 713-523-8238.

"Woods" Ever thought to yourself that there just aren't enough paintings of three-toed sloths these days? Well, Jason Villegas has remedied that. His painting of said sloth is included in "Woods," a group show at Negative Space that rotates around the idea of, well, wood, with five different artists' takes on the topic. In Vestigial Sloth Casting Spells, Villegas's sloth poses amid tree stumps in a painting surrounded by a comically sculpted "plush felt faux wood frame." Villegas has great titles: Lumberjacked Whilst Cutting Coasters for Social Entertaining is a comic depiction of a severed arm, a branch and wood-grain coasters. Villegas explores the same idea in a goofy sculpture made from cardboard, tape and felt depicting a tree stump, saw, branch and severed arm. Other standouts in the show include Scott Burns's drawing of wood robots and his lovingly rendered image of a tree embedded with axes. Teresa O'Connor has presented a campy, Wild West, poker- and beer-themed vignette with wooden bottle silhouettes painted to look like Lone Star and Wild Irish Rose. And Joe Ives maintains his knack for the absurd with a ridiculously oversize chair made from cardboard boxes and unwieldy "portable" plywood furniture with accompanying performance videos. Through February 19. 68 Yale, 713-869-1603.

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Kelly Klaasmeyer
Contact: Kelly Klaasmeyer