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Mac Whitney Lets the Steel Do the Talking

Mac Whitney's current show at Gallery Sonja Roesch only just went up earlier in January, but the sculptor would be familiar to regular gallery goers, as well as those who just happen to drive by the Midtown gallery.

For the past seven months, the artist's 3,000-plus pound sculpture, Carrizozo, has stood prominently outside the gallery, a red beacon as well as a preview of sorts of his solo show -- a variety bag of a dozen of the Texas artist's sculptures, as well as a handful of paintings, all made from the past half of his more than 40-year career.

Whitney is a skilled metal worker who can manipulate steel at any scale and make it bend or curve at his command. It's quite astonishing to go from his 20-foot tall Carrizozo to the barely 20-inch Bosque, another red number that rests on the gallery's table and is one of the first works you see upon entering the gallery. Despite their difference in stature, they both have the same sense of strength, movement and elegance. Though his minimal use of color, just solid reds, blacks, blues or grays, he lets the raw steel do the talking.

The artist's paintings are quite the departure from his metalwork. Where Whitney's sculptures are strong, interlocking forms, his oil paintings are loose and erratic in their lines. Where his sculptures are solid, bold colors, his paintings are messy bursts of blues, yellows, and reds all at once. It's like he's freeing his mind from the constraints of the steel, and imagining what shapes he might be able to bend his next sculpture into next, against all odds.

"Mac Whitney: Sculptures and Paintings" at Gallery Sonja Roesch, 2309 Caroline Street, runs now through February 23. The gallery will host two events tied in with the schow - a high tea on January 27 at 2 pm and a panel discussion on public art in Houston on February 9 at 2 pm. For more information, call 713-659-5424 or visit www.gallerysonjaroesch.com.

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