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.

"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.

"Trying Hard Not to Fail" The show displays Wyatt Nash's affinity for Styrofoam, joint compound and Sculpey clay. He makes objects that are sort of pop, a little surreal and really cartoony, reflecting his oddball take on reality. Many of Nash's sculptures depict life-size quotidian objects: a circular saw, a computer, a movie projector, a urinal. But Nash crafts them as if they were seen through a cartoon lens; it's like when a film's scenes suddenly change from live action to animation. Nash's skewed exaggeration of the banal produces objects such as The Last Legs of a Broken Object (2004). It looks like a 286 computer, one of those beige models with the CRT display and brown keyboard. With its stack of giant floppy disks and old dot matrix printer, it's a really silly take on a piece of outmoded technology that's on the cusp of becoming nostalgic. In a similar vein, a movie projector sits on a metal folding chair with legs slightly splayed under its weight. The chair legs remind you that this stuff is all Styrofoam. While even the massive objects are light and fragile, the Styrofoam always seems on the verge of breaking. Nash has a quirky talent, but he needs to focus his work. Some things, like his fire hydrant and hose in the back room, are too facilely comic. Other pieces, like his table saw and plank of bricks, lend themselves to narratives, while the computer and projector are most interesting as goofy, detailed re-creations. Nash just needs to sort out what he's going for. Through February 19 at Maas Projects, 2609 Dunlavy, 713-520-6809.

"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