Sudden Movement

Artistic movements can be recognized rather than consciously forged. For instance, a few decades back when Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein first got wind of each other, both were shocked to learn that the other had almost simultaneously "invented" what would soon become ubiquitous as pop art. Fast-forward to early 2004, when we find longtime Houston-area artist and bon vivant Wayne Gilbert noticing that something is definitely in the air.

"I was attending an opening of some younger artists with a few friends around my own age," says the 57-year-old Gilbert, "and the consensus among my cohorts was that nobody understood what these new kids were trying to say. But I had to disagree. What I saw was the beginning of a cohesive young aesthetic that's just beginning to show itself."

With this epiphany Gilbert conceived of a new exhibition, "A Little Insolence/A Little Soul." The show brings together 19 youthful artists from the Houston, Lubbock, Corpus Christi and Dallas areas. While many of the artists in the show have never heard of the others, Gilbert recognizes a distinct commonality between them, an "amoebic, loose, sarcastic" tone, equally self-reflective and didactic, cartoonish and refined -- and entirely grounded in the harsh and absurd realities of postmillennial day-to-day life.

While "Insolence" mainly concerns itself with paintings (Jay Walker is displaying several colorful examples of portraiture, each around seven feet tall), the show also features less traditional media, like the despairingly comical woodcuts of Mike Stephens, which portray a haywire world in dire need of superheroes. On the other end of the scale is Lionel Maunz's enormously ambitious, 18-foot-long Diagonal Infection, an audacious blend of painting and sculpture.

A brand-new, organic, regional artistic movement isn't something that comes along every day. There might not be a name yet for whatever it is that binds these young artists together, but this exhibition is a rare opportunity for local gallery mavens to get in on the ground floor and do the Sarcastic Texas Amoeba.

The exhibition opens from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 12. On view through July 10. Redbud Gallery, 1011 Washington Avenue, 713-862-2532. Free.

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Scott Faingold