“John Alexander: A Retrospective”

A native son is finally getting his due at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s “John Alexander: A Retrospective.” Born in Beaumont, educated at Dallas’s Southern Methodist University and seasoned as a professor at the University of Houston, Alexander initially created oil paintings of the barren deserts, musky bayous and salty beaches of the continental U.S.’s largest and most ecologically diverse state. His paintings always had an ominous sense of menace darkening them. Were crocs, Klansmen or industrial cranes lurking somewhere? It was up to the viewer.

After Alexander moved to New York and traveled across the globe, his work became increasingly metaphoric. Glory Bound (1993) features a steam-engine train unsettlingly at the center of a tropical forest, while 2006’s panoramic Parade shows politicians, businessmen, clowns, sorcerers and skeletons with cash floating around them preparing for Mardi Gras and ready for decadence. Still at work in his Long Island studio, Alexander shows that an artist can advance without losing touch with his roots.

See “John Alexander: A Retrospective” from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. Exhibit continues Tuesdays through Sundays through June 22. 1001 Bissonnet. For tickets and information, call 713-639-7771 or visit www.mfah.org. $13 to $17.

See Alexander himself today at the McClain Gallery’s opening reception for the related exhibit “John Alexander: New Paintings.” 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Through May 31. 2242 Richmond. For information, call 713-520-9988 or visit www.mcclaingallery.com. Free.
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: April 18. Continues through May 31, 2008

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Nick Keppler