Visual Arts

Free for All: "CraftTexas 2012," Peter Max and Libba Bray

Is it art or is it craft? Or is it arty craft? Crafty art? Agh, that debate will make your head spin. Let's just say the pieces at "CraftTexas 2012," opening Friday at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, are beautiful and well done. Take for example, Paula Gron's oversized My Toothbrush, seen above. It's a whimsical take on a traditional dental utensil. It has a wooden handle (so far, so good, sounds like craft), but instead of plastic or even wire bristles, it has found tree branches held in place by a basket weave (okay, now it's art). "I think it's a nice play on materials," says Anna Walker, curator for HCCC. "She has a real mastery of basket weaving and she does something different with it."

"Some people might think of craft as always being functional, we don't take that stance," Walker says. She points to two works by Danny Kamerath. One, Jill, is a usable chair made of hickory. Another, Table for Two, is a miniature set of two chairs and a table carved out of a stump of Yaupon holly. "The artist is working with wood in both pieces," says Walker. "While one piece is functional and one is not, they're both coming out of traditions of craft. And the functional chair, even though it can be used, it's certainly an artistic expression."

The opening for "CraftTexas 2012" is 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Friday. During the reception, three artists will be presented with the jurors' Award of Merit prizes. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Through December 30. Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, 4848 Main. For information, visit the center's website or call 713-529-4848 .

Meet artist Peter Max at Off the Wall Gallery on Saturday. It's one of two appearances by the artist known for his use of vibrant colors and playful images. Max is in town to unveil his new Masters series, a collection of interpretive works of Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, and Vincent Van Gogh. One of the most striking pieces in the series is the re-interpretation of Van Gogh's self-portrait (seen at the right).

There are two receptions with Max in attendance. The first is 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday. The second is 1 p.m. to 4 p.m .on Sunday. Off the Wall Gallery, 5015 Westheimer (in the Galleria I). For information, visit the gallery's website or call 713-871-0940.

New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray, who's signing her newest book on Sunday at Murder by the Book, looked in her own back yard for the setting of her latest release, The Diviners. The young adult novel is set in New York City (Bray lives in Brooklyn) and features Evie O'Neill, who's been shipped off to live with her Uncle Will. New York is thrilling and glamorous, but Uncle Will, well, not so much. In fact, he's the very un-glamorous curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."

Bray discusses and signs The Diviners at 2 p.m. at Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonnet. For information, visit the bookstore's website or call 713-524-2897.

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Olivia Flores Alvarez