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The Allure of Power Lines and Transformers

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While exploring the imagery of power lines throughout his 30-year career, Randy Twaddle's work with the surprisingly elegant black lines has appeared in paintings and on wool rugs, textiles, even tote bags. A new show at Moody Gallery featuring the Houston artist and designer's work shows that he's not done yet with the electric muse, and there's still a lot more experimentation to be done.

In fewer than 20 pieces, Twaddle works in plywood, charcoal on paper, tiles and collage, all mediums that convey the simple, transfixing beauty of the silhouettes. I would like to have seen more of his work with plywood beyond just the introductory Tether, with the lines striking the wood in gesso, though that's so 2011. As of late, Twaddle has made a return to his medium of choice -- charcoal and paper -- in the works Lord's Acre and Forager's Compass.

The massive abstract drawings are perfectly symmetrical, resembling some urban Rorschach test. Twaddle goes beyond these flat surfaces and into more 3-D territory with Mirabeau Tile, a wall sculpture based on a 2-D transformer-based pattern that consists of four identical bas-relief tiles cast in hydro-stone. There's no black silhouette here, just monochrome white, which makes the raised bumps of the transformer seem creepily like veins.

Beyond these explorations in tile and charcoal, the majority of the new works on display are small collages. There are 14 arranged in two neat rows that are made up of photographs of power and utility lines. These documents are cut up and put back together, like patchworks of varying blue skies, the occasional cloud and, in a nod to a recent practice of Twaddle's, coffee-stained paper. They feel like stamps showing the evolution of this impressive, ceaselessly inspiring interest in power lines -- a look at where it's been and where it's possibly going.

"New Work: Drawings, Collages, and Tiles" runs at Moody Gallery, 2815 Colquitt, through April 20. For more information, call 713-526-9911 or visit www.moodygallery.com.

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