Colton & Farb Gallery's summer group show "Use Your Illusion" takes its name from a Guns N' Roses album, out of context, to play around with the idea of reality vs. unreality. (What's with the Houston gallery scene's fandom over Axl Rose's former band, by the way? Anya Tish Gallery presented a show last May called "Guns and Roses.")
Paul Horn curates this show with little rhyme or reason; he even includes some work I'd classify as dubiously appropriated and trite, but there's enough solid stuff on display to recommend it, on the merit of a handful of artists, despite its haphazard, clumsy installation. To the gallery's credit, only a few of the artists on display are actually represented by Colton & Farb.
I'm a big fan of Kevin Peterson's portraits of privileged preteens captured against urban graffiti walls. It's an easy juxtaposition in cultural/class terms, but they look so cool. Here, Horn picked an image of a girl wearing a Ralph Lauren tennis suit against the brightly colored abstract background, which injects name status into Peterson's usual portraits of structure-vs.-chaos. I just wish it wasn't hung low in a narrow hallway.
One could spend a half hour admiring the collection of Daniel Johnston illustrations in one room. Johnston fits utterly into Horn's theme, with his nightmarish cartoons chronicling his manic depression, as well as the strange and comic characters of his unique, pop-inspired mythos. But did Horn have to include the now overexposed photo of Kurt Cobain wearing the Johnston T-shirt? Johnston is a respected artist; he's beyond this dead-celeb "endorsement."
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The always-interesting Matt Messinger is well represented here with a slew of strange combines and wildly divergent content. And Scott Burns delivers some funny sci-fi watercolors, like Folding Space from Hazzard, an image of the Spice Guild Navigator inside his chamber, from David Lynch's Dune, emerging from a cosmic cloud decked out in the Dixie flag like the General Lee. Through August 20. 2445 North Blvd., 713-869-5151.