Capsule Reviews

"...Hot'* '...Hotter'** ...Hottest'*** : Important New Works from the Lockhart River Gang" The young artists on view at Booker-Lowe Gallery blend contemporary art with their 50,000-year-old culture. The Lockhart River Gang is a group of mainly twentysomething Australian aboriginal artists who are heirs to one of the oldest continuous cultures on the planet -- and the oldest continual art practice. While the work they make is influenced by their culture, it departs from traditional aboriginal art. Rosella Namok is one of the strongest painters in the show. In her work, Namok scrapes back thick, shiny layers of acrylic to reveal vividly colored and multihued underpaintings. In Change of Tide, Quintal Beach (2004), angled lines are cut through an earthy reddish-brown surface to expose an underlying coral-hued layer; the two sets of repeating lines point toward each other like arrows. Namok has created a dramatic abstract composition that also references the natural world. Through December 3. 4623 Feagan, 713-880-1541.

"Mid-century Modern Revisited: Design 1943-1953" An enigmatic, molded plywood object hangs on the wall at Brazos Projects for the space's new exhibition. The object is a leg splint, and it was designed by Charles and Ray Eames and marketed to the U.S. Navy during WWII as an alternative to metal splints. Through designing the splint, the Eameses developed a technique to mold plywood and mass-produce it. They would later use the process to design furniture such as the 1946 molded plywood screen, which features beautifully undulating segments of wood held together by unobtrusive fabric hinges. In the show, the screen serves as a backdrop for other spectacular objects, like Eero Saarinen's "Womb Chair," which still looks fantastically contemporary almost 60 years later. The chair is grouped with George Nelson's glowing, podlike "Bubble Lamp" and the warm wood of an early version of Isamu Noguchi's iconic coffee table. While "Mid-Century Modern" has become a widely used and misused appellation, this little jewel of a show brings the term back to its origins with choice and beautiful objects from the early years. Through November 28. 2425 Bissonnet, 713-523-0701.

"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.

"Scott Gordon: paperwork" Remember collages, those grade-school art projects made with blunt scissors, construction paper and Elmer's glue? Scott Gordon's new collages at Hooks-Epstein Galleries use that time-honored paper-plus-adhesive technique, but with visually sophisticated results. Gordon takes vintage scraps of paper, culled from books, magazines and old letters, and cuts them into geometric forms. There are hints of early cubist and constructivist collages in the way Gordon selects solid-colored swatches and snippets of text and abstract pattern. The materials have a subtle, mellowing patina of age, and they may remind frequent Colquitt visitors of the collage work of Lance Letscher, who shows at nearby McMurtry Gallery. But while Letscher uses strips of old books to compose much larger designs, Gordon pieces and layers together his shapes irregularly. He arranges his cut components with a painter's sense of composition to create small and satisfying works. Through November 27. 2631 Colquitt. 713-522-0718.

"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.

"Yigal Ozeri: Long Island City Series" Yigal Ozeri has some kind of weird pigeon phobia, but you wouldn't know it from his current series of pigeon-centric paintings. The images are taken from the pigeon-encrusted windows outside his studio. Ozeri videotapes the birds and then paints from the video. In his work, clusters of pigeons mix with the bold geometric forms of window frames and the sills of aged brick buildings. You imagine Ozeri spending long hours in his studio staring out these windows -- he apparently spent 13 months on the pigeon series alone. The scenes are particular to dense urban areas, and there's a pretense to grittiness in these paintings. But the romantic pinks that emerge from Ozeri's blue- and purple-tinged tones overwhelm any edginess. These are well-composed and well-painted works that need to push themselves a little further beyond the conventional. Through November 27 at New Gallery, 2627 Colquitt, 713-520-7053.

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Kelly Klaasmeyer
Contact: Kelly Klaasmeyer