With its current show, "Drawings & Air Conditioning, " Front Gallery wants to lure you out into the summer heat and into the Montrose bungalow space with the promise of two basic things.
During August in Houston, air conditioning is pretty necessary when you venture out into the heat to do anything, let alone look at art. But since a/c is everywhere, it's not too much of a selling point. The drawings really have to be something. And it's a toss-up here, as many of the works may be too minimal and formal for most, while just different enough for others.
The five artists are all over the map in terms of origin (they hail from Hawaii and Newfoundland and places in between) and style -- they're all very distinct. Still, you can't help but try to draw similarities, and one common thread among them is an almost untrained quality. There's a free-form, experimental feel throughout many of the selections, especially prevalent in the five pieces by Michael Blair, an artist who has said he is inspired by images made by "non-artists" such as children, for their "earnest expression." It's an unfortunate allusion, as his pen drawings are exactly the type of art that elicits the response "My kid can do that." It's all unconscious lines and scribbles that ultimately don't amount to much to look at.
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Biff Bolen has a similar unbridled, creative-unconscious quality in his abstract watercolor and oil drawings, but these give you more to work with, from the contrast of materials to the vibrant colors. Erin Hunt's watercolors are even better -- her gray depictions of a socket, an urn and more unrecognizable forms are strange and intriguing.
The four selections from Clarence Chun's Postcard Series provide more shape and color to appreciate, though the works are on such a small scale you'd benefit from a magnifying glass. The thin drawings look like they're details taken from a larger piece -- they go on beyond the white of the paper -- offering just a hint of his minutely detailed craft.
Megan Harrison's drawings in charcoal, A Catalogue of Shapes, depict the most clearly defined objects -- bricks -- but they curiously didn't add up to anything. The neatly stacked piles; falling, tumbling bricks; and bricks bent upwards against some unseen force are all exercises in order and chaos. She's practicing, and letting us look in on the process.
"Drawings & Air Conditioning" at Front Gallery, 1412 Bonnie Brae St., runs now through September 8. For more information, call 713-298-4750 or visit frontgallery.com.