Capsule Reviews

"Hyper'real'ism: Fellowship Series VI" Bill Davenport has been making a lot of quirky trompe l'oeil paintings of late, but with Dark Door, he's taken fake to the next level of absurdity. Davenport has made a phenomenal and fantastically ridiculous sculpture. It's a giant medieval-looking wooden door with big metal bolts and a giant iron knocker -- except it's all crafted from insulating foam board and faux-painted with acrylic. The faux bois of the massive "wooden" planks that make up the door have a wonderful cartoonlike quality. The "iron" knocker and bolts have been carved to look like hand-hammered iron. It's jaw-droppingly silly. The door could be keeping out your childhood nightmares or maybe just John Ashcroft. Painting all that fake wood must have taken forever, but according to Davenport, "the tough part was getting the ogre behind the door." Works by Greg Donner, Francesca Fuchs and Tierney Malone are also on view as a part of the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County's Fellowship Series VI. The show is definitely worth a trip. Through January 10 at CACHH's Space 125, 3201 Allen Parkway, ground floor, 713-527-9330.

"Notice Forest" Japanese artist Yuken Teruya seems to be on a quest to restore disposable paper products to their former glory. In his art he uses stuff like cast-off fast-food sacks and the cores from toilet-paper rolls. As improbable as it sounds, he conjures up something of the organic glory of their past lives. Teruya acts almost like a spiritual medium as he cuts tiny, delicately beautiful silhouettes of trees from a McDonald's Happy Meal sack whose previous raison d'être was to provide temporary housing for burgers and fries. The shapes are taken from trees Teruya photographs and captures from daily life. The silhouettes hang down into the bag's interior, and Teruya places the sacks on their sides so you peer into their openings to view the tiny organic world within. Who knew a McDonald's bag could become an intimate environment? Through January 15 at DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 713-223-8346.

"[email protected]: A Quarter Century of New Art in Houston" This retrospective has got mad flow. Sophie Calle presents her fluid recollections of Rembrandt's only maritime painting, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee. Robert Longo and Aaron Parazette offer up renditions of curling waves. Nancy Burson gives us a morphed amalgam of the face of the human race. And Dario Robleto serves up some magic potion. All of this flow is fitting, considering how the "Perspectives" series at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston always has been focused on chugging through exhibitions fairly quickly. It is also symbolic of how contemporary art is constantly evolving. And nothing evolves quite like Sam Taylor-Wood's A Little Death. This video begins with what looks like a classic Old Master still life: A dead rabbit hangs on the wall. But this work isn't as still as it seems. Through time-lapse technology, Taylor-Wood speeds up the furry guy's decomposition. As maggots begin to feast, we realize Taylor-Wood has cannibalized the work of her predecessors. This work wasn't in her original show, but, like many of the other works featured in this stunning retrospective, it shows us what the artist has been doing since then. The CAMH is giving us a fresh look at some familiar faces. Through January 9. 5216 Montrose, 713-284-8250.

"Red Fall" "Red Fall" presents the politically charged work of 12 local, national and international artists. These are strong and politically invigorating exhibitions for anyone -- no matter if you were depressed or elated by the elections. One work, S.O.S. -- Urgent Messages to the President from the Streets of the Bronx, a video by Mel Chin, features "84 Bronx residents offering heartfelt thoughts to the President." It sounds straightforward, but it's an incredibly powerful piece. In it, ethnically and politically diverse people offer the president their advice on a range of issues. One by one, each person stares into the camera without speaking, as the text of his or her message runs along the bottom of the screen. The video is accompanied by a thumping, rumbling audio -- the sound of the interviewees' heartbeats, taped by Chin. Other works include a series of photographs by Paul Fusco, Fallen Soldiers -- Iraq, which presents the flag-draped coffins of the dead, and Bringing the War Home (2004), an installation by David Krueger. Through January 15 at the Station, 1502 Alabama, 713-529-6900.

"THE STORE: for the Person who has Everything! Version 2.0" Looking for interesting holiday gift ideas and have a burning desire to support cash-poor visual artists? "THE STORE: for the Person who has Everything! Version 2.0" may be the answer to your holiday needs. "It's an art exhibit, it's a's BOTH," according to curators Jahjehan Bath Ives and Debbie Riddle. What it has is an interesting array of art/objects. Jason Villegas contributed an absolutely hysterical Jackalope head crafted from cardboard and multicolored duct tape. It's a perfect absurdist decoration for your holiday hearth. Meanwhile, artist Amanda Matt has documented the entire contents of her refrigerator and turned each picture into a magnet. (You can decorate your fridge with a picture of somebody else's crusty bottle of ketchup!) The "Houston, It's Worth It" guys are out in force as well, with T-shirts and postcards touting their anti-slogan. It's the ideal -- honest -- civic campaign that celebrates such Houstonesque attributes as flying cockroaches, flooding and sprawl. (Rumor has it Mayor Bill White heartily approves.) Through December 24 at Negative Space, 68 Yale, 713-869-1603.

"Truth to Power" "Truth to Power" presents moving portraits and biographies of political activists from around the world, and it should inspire anyone thinking about fleeing to Canada to remain at home. Eddie Adams's photographic portraits of activists are paired with biographies written by Kerry Kennedy. They are people such as Kenyan political rights activist Koigi Wa Wamwere, a thoughtful-looking man in a trench coat and hat. Wamwere grew up in poverty in a forest community but excelled in school and was awarded a scholarship to Cornell University. Instead of taking a comfortable job abroad after graduating in 1973, Wamwere returned to Kenya to work for democratic reform. His unrelenting commitment to improving the lives of people in his home country has resulted in his undergoing detention, torture and imprisonment for much of his adult life. Yet he hasn't fled. The Station's message is that we have to stick around and work if we want things to change. Through January 15. 1502 Alabama, 713-529-6900.

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Kelly Klaasmeyer
Contact: Kelly Klaasmeyer
Keith Plocek
Contact: Keith Plocek