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Matt Devine's Small Metal Works and Christy Rogers's Experimental Photography Now Showing at Laura Rathe Fine Art

Matt Devine and Christy Rogers are shown in tandem at the Laura Rathe Fine Art Gallery, with no connection between them, except that both are highly contemporary artists, with Devine working with small metal pieces assembled together to form complex, abstract patterns, while Roger uses experimental photographic techniques to achieve colorful results, often combining the abstract with the representational.

Devine's Undercurrent is composed of shiny blue metal tapes, far too many to count, assembled to form a circular presence (60" round, 6"deep) of power and authority. There is an air of brassy insouciance, as though the sculpture was feeling its oats, yet the lingering effect is warm and welcoming.

I admired Devine's La Luz (60"x64"x6"deep), composed of brown metal tapes, but here spaced more openly, so that the shadows of the tapes against the wall enlarged the depth, and seemed to become part of the sculpture. His Little Cottonwood (44"x48"x6"deep) uses white metal tapes tightly clustered to create powerful energy, enticing but dangerous, like a welcoming briar patch.

There are some smaller sculptures: Circle Gets the Square (36"x36"x6"deep) uses steel tapes which seem like aluminum to generate a sense of futurity, a shiny utopian dream. Resurrection #10 (36" round x 6"deep) employs white tapes which are thicker, glossy and communicate a sense of imperial majesty.

And there is one smaller sculpture, on a pedestal instead of the wall, Blockhaus, (16"x16"x6") with dark brown tapes, too small to invite entrance into its world, but retaining a sense of self, though abstract, a metaphorical hedgehog waiting to pounce.

Devine's work has the sheen of sophistication, and the polish of caring craftsmanship, and the results are beautiful to observe, and graceful to contemplate.

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Christy Rogers is a photographer who uses water and experimental techniques to create works of vivid splashes of color against darker backgrounds. She can do conventional work beautifully, as her Carnadina (50"x37") demonstrates, with a female nude echoing a fin-de-siecle aura, with wisps of fabric that add texture without concealing.

This is not where her passion lies - the exhibition centers on her more abstract visions, though sometimes alloyed with recognizable human elements. Nightingale (60"x48") uses, against her usual dark background, splashes of color - pale blue, pale green, pale yellow, strong red - to suggest movement, delicacy, and romance. Birth of a Star (41"x61") uses yellow, red and blue highlights to create a striking composition. The Life I Recognize (45"x60") uses white splashes that seems to pulse with life emerging from original darkness. Biondegginate (44"x58") uses yellow and white colors, and elements of the human body here made deliberately unattractive, challenging us to enjoy it - a test, I admit, which I failed.

Rogers' art is ambitious; her artist statement in part reports "Through a fragile process of experimentation, she builds elaborate scenes of coalesced colors and entangled bodies that exalt the human character as one of vigor and warmth, while also capturing the beauty and vulnerability of the tragic experience that is the human condition." The results shown here are stunningly attractive, often powerful, yet somehow fall short of these high goals.

The exhibition continues through April 26, Tuesday through Friday, 10 am to 5 pm, and Saturday 11 am to 5 pm, Laura Rathe Fine Art, 2707 Colquitt. For information, call 713-527-7700 or contact www.laurarathe.com.

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