From the psychedelic art of Peter Max to the radioactive detritus of Chernobyl, it's an exciting month for art lovers in Houston. MFAH is showcasing 20th century prints and drawings collected by Ima Hogg, there's a super cool sculpture at the North Houston Bikepark, the Tibetan monks are creating another mandala at Asia Society Texas Center, and Discovery Green is placing large scale sculptures around Kinder Lake.
It's a meeting of the minds when local pop artist Dandee Warhol partners with digital pros Input/Output (the folks who once turned "Be Someone" into a digital light show), mixed media artist Michelle Grey and synth-pop's Night Drive and Culttastic to create Cosmophoria, a collaboration that results in a one-night-only, otherworldly audiovisual experience at Bauhaus Houston.
Just as psychedelic but with a vintage vibe is the Peter Max retrospective over at Off the Wall Gallery. Expect more than a few Woodstock throwbacks, plus tributes to Muhammad Ali, David Bowie, Tom Petty and Andy Warhol. The 50th Anniversary show even includes Texas references, ranging from an Astros helmet to our city's skyline and cosmic riffs on the Lone Star State. Groovy, man.
The hottest destination in the dark tourism market seems to be the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone though, even 33 years after the disaster, there's still a toxic layer of radioactive dust over everything. Why not skip the plutonium and view photographs from ground zero instead, courtesy of National Geographic contributor Vladimir Frumin and on view at the Russian Cultural Center "Our Texas."
For public art with an adrenaline fix, artist Steve Olson — the same guy who sculpted "High Noon" at the North Houston Skatepark — has just installed "Crossed Upside Down" at the soon to open North Houston Bikepark; you'll want to catch the big grand opening on August 16.
There are far fewer chances to wipe out with the giant "line drawing" sculptures at Discovery Green, some as tall as 12 feet in height. "The Shape of Things: Michael Craig-Martin" is only the second North American stop for Craig-Martin's whimsical umbrella, wheelbarrow, lightbulb, shoe and other everyday objects. It opens August 1 and the colorful sculptures will be installed around Kinder Lake.
Ima Hogg was one of the first American collectors of modern art in Texas. The heiress and philanthropist had the means to travel throughout Europe and North America and picked up more than 100 prints and drawings by important artists, including George Bellows, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, José Clemente Orozco and Pablo Picasso. To celebrate the 80th anniversary of her major gift of 20th century objects to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the museum is mounting a fall exhibition titled "Miss Ima Hogg & Modernism."
The Constitution seems to be under increased scrutiny these days as folks from both sides of the aisle debate exactly what high crimes and misdemeanors actually means. Artist Nari Ward has been pondering democracy, political disenfranchisement, and racism for three decades, and now CAMH is showcasing his 2011 sculpture, We the People, where the preamble has been spelled out with thousands of shoelaces, as well as other objects from his career.
Also on the contemporary scene, Susan Spjut never met a zebra she didn't want to paint. Inspired by colors, patterns and images, we'll meet that zebra — as well as other flora and fauna — when Archway Gallery opens "Inherently Eclectic."
Asia Society Texas Center opens a new photography exhibit this month with "Scraping the Sky." Vicky Roy documented the reconstruction of the World Trade Center and those images have never been viewed outside New York City; his other shots demonstrate how those who live in the Himalayan Mountains are able to build with limited resources in a challenging environment.
After 30 years in Houston and enduring getting bilked by a shady art gallery, artist Larry Crawford is back on top, showing at various art markets, working on a book of celebrity portraits, and donating work to charitable organizations; this month he's opening a solo show with all new works over at Visionary Heights. Another survivor, this time from Tropical Storm Harvey, is Iranian-American artist Avisheh Mohsenin who has reprinted flood-damaged correspondence and is displaying those enlarged family letters on clotheslines at Box 13 ArtSpace.
Not designed to stand the test of time and a strong argument for "the joy is in the doing," the Tibetan Buddhist monks are returning to Asia Society Texas Center for their fifth year of mandala sand painting, where the entire piece gets dismantled and swept up in a closing ceremony. Over a period of five days the monks will use a chakpur funnel to meticulously place millions of grains of colored sand to form the sacred cosmogram. Visitors can view the work in progress and then return to try their hand on a community mandala: the outer level represents the world in its divine form, the inner level a map for the mind to become enlightened, and on a secret level the mandala represents the perfect balance between body and mind.
Art isn't always found on a pedestal or mounted on a wall; check out the collab between an artist, composer and dancer in "Lillian Warren: Who You Once Were" at Aurora Picture Show, it's an immersive and ever-changing experience that draws from the emotions surrounding gradual memory loss. Others who have faced a different sort of struggle are presenting an inaugural show in Metamorphosis: Art + Disability, with stories of joy, challenge and change presented by the United Spinal Association at Sabine Street Studios.
Shows Already Up or Opening the Last Week in July:
July 26, "Cosmophoria," an AudioVisual Exploration featuring Night Drive, Bauhaus Houston, 1803 Pease (9 p.m. Friday)
July 27-November 3, "Miss Ima Hogg & Modernism," Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Audrey Jones Beck Building, 5601 Main
Through July 27, Amy Beth Wright, "ssssssummahh," Mid Main Lofts, 3550 Main Street (closing reception 7-9 p.m. July 26 with sound performance, "Summer Long, Summer Short," with Michael Simmonds)
Through July 28, Joe Furman, "Adventures in Herpetology," G Spot Contemporary Art Gallery, 310 East 9th
Through August 23, Vladimir Frumin, “Quietus Chernobyl 2004," Russian Cultural Center "Our Texas," 2337 Bissonnet
Through September 21, Elena Lopez Poirot, "Pockets," The Tank Project Space, 1824 Spring (opening reception 6-8 p.m. August 24)
Read last month's story, July Art Shows: "Impulse," Higher Ground and "Shooting the Moon," for information about other exhibits and shows still open in Houston.
New Art Openings This August:
August 1-November 3, "The Shape of Things: Michael Craig-Martin," Discovery Green®, 1500 McKinney
August 3, White Linen Night in the Heights, 200 and 300 blocks of 19th Street (6-10 p.m. Saturday)
August 3, First Saturday Arts Market, 530 West 19th (6-10 p.m. Saturday)
August 3-September 5, Susan Spjut, "Inherently Eclectic," Archway Gallery, 2305 Dunlavy (opening reception 5-8 p.m. August 10, artist talk at 6:30 p.m.)
August 3, Cindy Lisica discusses the Artist as Brand: Takashi Murakami, hosted by Visual Arts Alliance at The Printing Museum, 1324 West Clay (11 a.m.-noon Saturday)
August 3, Wizard of Barge, Mister56, Dakota Cates and Hunter Jackson, "But ... These Are My Friends," Flatland Gallery, 1709 Westheimer (6-9 p.m. Saturday)
August 3, Chalk on the Block, hosted by Midtown Houston at Baldwin Park, 1701 Elgin (10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday)
August 4-September 1, Larry Crawford, "A Moment in Time," Visionary Heights, 1331 Nicholson (opening reception 6-10 p.m. August 3)
August 7, Behind The Scenes: Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Drive (6:30-9:30 p.m. Wednesday)
August 8, After Hours Party, Archway Gallery, 2305 Dunlavy (6-8:30 p.m. Thursday)
August 9, "Houston Hoods: Art & Photography Show," Insomnia Gallery, 708 Telephone (8 p.m.-midnight Friday)
August 10-October 20, "Scraping the Sky: Photographs by Vicky Roy," Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore
August 10-October 5, Ha Na Lee and James Hughes, "Surfaces;" Caroline Roberts, "the present of my life looks different under trees;" and Avisheh Mohsenin, "Resurface.Letters;" BOX 13 ArtSpace, 6700 Harrisburg (opening reception 7-9 p.m. August 10)
August 10, Summertime chat with artists Gao Hang and Suzette Mouchaty about the changing roles of sculpture and painting, followed by social hour and cocktails, 4411 Montrose Boulevard (2-4 p.m. Saturday)
August 10, Sawyer Yards Second Saturday: Silver Street, 2000 Edwards, The Silos at Sawyer Yards, 1502 Sawyer, Winter Street Studios, 2101 Winter, Summer Street Studios, 2204 Summer (6-10 p.m. Saturday)
August 10, Sawyer Yards Second Saturday: Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring, Sabine Street Studios, 1907 Sabine (noon-7 p.m. Saturday)
August 10, The Market at Sawyer Yards at Night, 1502 Sawyer (6-10 p.m. Saturday)
August 14-18, Mandala Sand Painting by the Mystical Arts of Tibet, Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore (opening ceremony at noon with viewing until 6 p.m. August 14, viewing hours 10 a.m.-6 p.m. August 15-17 and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. August 18, community mandala noon-4 p.m. August 17, closing ceremony 2 p.m. August 18)
August 15-September 20, Michael Laube, Hunt Rettig, Cassandria Blackmore and Gil Bruvel, "Summer Light," Laura Rathe Fine Art, 1700 Post Oak Boulevard (opening reception 5-8 p.m. August 15)
August 16, North Houston Bikepark, Kukendahl Between Rush Creek and I-45 Feeder (official grand opening at 2 p.m. Friday)
August 16-November 30, "Nari Ward: We the People," Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 5216 Montrose (opening reception 6:30-9 p.m. August 15, performance with Urban Souls Dance Company 6:30-7:30 p.m. August 29)
August 17-25, "Peter Max: The Retrospective - Back to Woodstock 50th Anniversary," Off the Wall Gallery, 5015 Westheimer (preview from 5-7 p.m. August 17, reception from 5-8 p.m. August 24, reception from 1-3 p.m. August 25; reservations are required to attend, call 713-871-0940 or email firstname.lastname@example.org)
August 17, "Hot August Nights: A Seductive, Sensual & Sexy Art Show," curated by Lacey Crawford, plus Third Saturday Open Studios, Hardy & Nance Studios, 902 Hardy (5-9 p.m. Saturday)
August 17, "Metamorphosis: Art + Disability," hosted by United Spinal Association of Houston at Sabine Street Studios, 1907 Sabine (6 p.m. Saturday)
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August 23-24, "Lillian Warren: Who You Once Were," a multimedia collaboration between visual artist Lillian Warren, composer Chris Becker and dancer Annie Arnoult, Aurora Picture Show, 2442 Bartlett (7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday)
August 24, "The Artist You Can Become," curated by Clinton Millsap, Hardy & Nance Studios, 902 Hardy (5-9 p.m. Saturday)
August 28, Fred Baldwin, reading and book signing for Dear Mr. Picasso: An Illustrated Love Affair with Freedom, The Menil Collection, 1533 Sul Ross (7-8 p.m. Wednesday)
August 31, Black Artists and Assemblage: From Folk Art to Conceptual Art Practices with Valerie Cassel Oliver (talk), Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 5216 Montrose (2-3 p.m. Saturday)