Hands of the Clock

The grief of losing a parent is something most of us eventually will have to experience. And when it happens, we'll probably think of the questions we should have asked. When artist Elena Lopez-Poirot's mother passed away, it became her mission to find out about her mother's past.

"When you're young, you just don't think about it," she says. Through her aunt, Lopez-Poirot has since discovered that her mother had an interest in photography and went to graduate school, a rarity in the 1940s. The experience led her to create a three-dimensional work using casts of the hands of her aunt, herself and her daughter. The casts are hung on the wall, with rose petals falling through the fingers, trickling down the generations like family memories.

Lopez-Poirot's "Time Regained" is one of many exhibits featured in ArtHouston, a citywide art open house organized by the Houston Art Dealers Association and featuring 36 galleries. Although some opening receptions will take place Friday, July 12, the participating galleries in the Museum District, downtown, the Heights and along Colquitt will officially open their doors Saturday, July 13.

Lopez-Poirot's other works continue her exploration of family, especially a set of miniature houses with family photos pasted on the outside. Each house has a single window visitors can look through and a button they can push to light up the interior. What you find inside is often an outdoor scene, the opposite of what you would expect.

"There are always things going on you don't know about," she says of people's lives. The perfect couple or family is hardly ever what it seems.

Lopez-Poirot had to put up a sign at previous shows in order to get people to push the button. "People have been told not to touch the art for so long, they couldn't figure it out," she says.

Or perhaps they were afraid of what they might find behind closed doors.

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Dylan Otto Krider