"Composite Constructions" More often than not, an art show in an office building means paintings stranded on temporary walls in some cavernous space. "Composite Constructions" is a little quirkier and more interesting than that. The hallways that bisect the lobby at the Travis Tower have wood-lined vitrines set into their walls. Two large ones provide perfect display space for Hillevi Barr's sculptures. Barr suspends the delicate paper forms of her constructions with wires, and locking them behind glass likens them to extravagantly fragile insects. Smaller cases hold Dandridge Reed's tiny works, collages of colored paper shapes on a colored ground. They feel like monumental paintings that have been miniaturized, and their display adds to the feeling of preciousness. Scott Gordon has a juicy work made with glossy paint and torn paper in another case. Other standouts are hung on the walls and include Lance Letscher's vibrantly colored geometric collages cut from old books. (A video from one of the tenants, Cohen Eye Associates, amusingly becomes part of the exhibition. The monitor is set into the wall with the display cases and presents a digital animation of eye irritation.) Organized by Kinzelman Art Consulting. Through October 5 at Travis Tower, 1301 Travis, 713-533-9923.
"How Latitudes Become Forms: Art in a Global Age" Two women take turns pouring water over each other's heads as they sit talking. They're wrapped in towels, and water drips down their bare shoulders as their voices echo in the room. Behind them is a stone basin with faucets; the setting is a hamam, or Turkish bath. The video is part of the installation Hamam (2001) by Turkish artist Esra Ersen, a sprawling group show of works at the Contemporary Arts Museum by international, er, global artists organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Hamam creates a wonderful sense of place. It's like visiting a foreign friend and hanging out with her girlfriends. When you travel, you take yourself out of your own context and willingly throw yourself off balance in new and unfamiliar territory. Visiting "Latitudes" is a little like that. But it's also a little like an overscheduled package tour -- the show hosts work by artists from China, India, Argentina, Turkey, Brazil, South Africa, Japan and the United States. It's something of a conglomeration, with "global-ness" as the loose organizing principle -- most pieces are primarily global in origin, while a few address globalism itself. Overall, the exhibition features strong works in a range of media. And the show's curators should be commended for venturing beyond known territory; after all, as long as you're within your own culture and know the context of the work, it's easier to interpret things. But, of course, a truly global approach to art will be impossible until artists from far-flung places are regularly included in shows not specifically about the "global." Through September 26. 5216 Montrose, 713-284-8250.
"Margaret Scott Dobbins: Moving Elements" Dobbins's titles suggest exotic landscapes: Tibetan Journey, Lost Cities, Night at Desert's Edge, Rift in Time. The paintings occupy the frontier between representation and abstraction, where the sights of the perceived world begin to melt into patterns. The larger canvases are rich in texture, the boundaries between large swathes of color deliberately fogged over, the borders never certain. The colors are warm, in quiet harmony with one another. For two of the pictures, Telepathy and Red Plate Tectonic, we are shown both the completed large work and smaller studies, allowing some insight into the painter's creative process. Through September 30 at The Jung Center, 5200 Montrose, 713-524-8253.