Visual Arts

Dennis Harper's Artsy Aquarium Opens at 110 Milam

Tilman Fertitta has some downtown competition.

Last night, the latest Window Into Houston installation, "Dennis Harper: Born in the Bayou," opened at the private residence of Jim Petersen. Blaffer Art Museum's collaboration with the Petersen household, located at 110 Milam, is the third exhibit of its kind realized by Blaffer director and chief curator Claudia Schmuckli.

Like Elaine Bradford's "The Sidereal," which kicked off the Window Into Houston project, Harper's take on an aquarium, viewable 24-7 in the street-front window gallery, definitely showcases a different vibe during the day versus night.

In Harper's installation, the windows' exteriors are glossed with perforated film that gives the appearance of steel-tank portholes. Inside, Harper -- a Los Angeles-raised artist with a bachelor's in studio art from the University of Texas-Austin and a master's in sculpture from the University of Houston -- has carefully crafted fish and nautical plants on colored paper that makes neon hues seem like wimps.

When the sun is out, the piece, though impressive, isn't the most striking thing to look at, à la Fertitta's Downtown Aquarium. But at night, the faux animals become lifelike. Though nothing moves, you can almost see them dancing in the water that's not there.

"Dennis Harper: Born in the Bayou" continues through January 6. For more information, check out the Blaffer Art Museum website.

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Steve Jansen is a contributing writer for the Houston Press.
Contact: Steve Jansen