Visual Arts

January Art Shows Include Dystopian VR and Putting Racism in the Crosshairs

Houston artist Lucas Johnson was there when Betty Moody opened her gallery in 1975. View selected paintings and drawings by the late artist (1940-2002) at Moody Gallery. Shown: Untitled by Lucas Johnson.
Houston artist Lucas Johnson was there when Betty Moody opened her gallery in 1975. View selected paintings and drawings by the late artist (1940-2002) at Moody Gallery. Shown: Untitled by Lucas Johnson. Photo by Moody Gallery
Our first look at art exhibits for the new year unearthed several notable gems but, as they say on TV, "wait there's more." Much, much more, in fact. For inspiration, Sarah Sudhoff looked to the skies, Javier Marín deconstructed mythical figures and the human form, and Moody Gallery celebrates more than 40 years in the biz with a perennial favorite. A couple of exhibits draw from the African American experience: Robert Hodge created collages out of urban detritus while Trenton Doyle Hancock confronted the ugliness of racism. There are several strong group shows, as well. The Moody Center for the Arts has a dystopian virtual reality experience, Japanese artist Masako Masukata experiments with plaster at Nicole Longnecker Gallery, and FotoFest has curated photography from ten of Houston's top galleries.

Every time Memorial Hermann's Life Flight takes off and touches down, a very real human drama unfolds. Artist Sarah Sudhoff looked to those skies over Texas Medical Center and mined data from 300 flights to create her evolving "Point of Origin" project at Cindy Lisica Gallery. The collection of suspended sculptures, sound installation and embossed wall works connects viewers with our shared human experience.

11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays,  Through February 9, Cindy Lisica Gallery, 4411 Montrose, Suite F, 713-807-7760,

Part nod to Rothko, Rauschenberg and the New York School with their monochromatic black paintings, while adding in cultural and musical references important to the African American experience, Robert Hodge's "The Low End Theory" has opened at David Shelton Gallery. Hodge's work includes collages that blend urban decay, lyrics, found objects and cut-out images, while his exhibition title salutes the second studio album from hip hop's A Tribe Called Quest.

11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, through February 9, David Shelton Gallery, 4411 Montrose, Suite B, 713-393-7319,

click to enlarge "Javier Marín Masterworks" opens to the public January 16 at Art of the World Gallery. Shown: Horse II, 3v, by Mexican artist Javier Marín. - PHOTO BY ARMANDO CANTO
"Javier Marín Masterworks" opens to the public January 16 at Art of the World Gallery. Shown: Horse II, 3v, by Mexican artist Javier Marín.
Photo by Armando Canto
Discovery Green had us all talking about bronze sculptures when Jorge Marín's traveling exhibit, "Wings of the City," touched down in 2014. And not just because one male figure was (ahem) anatomically correct — the winged angel, wounded soldier and masked gymnast were also elegant and cerebral. It's a talented family; now his younger brother makes his Houston debut in "Javier Marín Masterworks" and it's about time — the Mexican artist has had more than 90 solo exhibitions over the past 30 years. At his upcoming show at Art of the World Gallery, expect busts, mythical figures (constructed and deconstructed), horsemen and twinned acrobats — ranging in size from pedestal-mounted to monumental in scale.

10 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, through March 16, Art of the World Gallery, 2201 Westheimer, 713-526-1201,

Houston's gallery scene experienced a growth spurt in the mid 1970s, though many newcomers chose to represent international superstars. Not so for Betty Moody who invested in local talent and found that her West Gray location had become a meeting spot for artists. Works by Lucas Johnson have been exhibited at Moody Gallery since its 1975 opening and "Selected Paintings & Drawings" will be the fifth exhibition since his death in 2002. Expect imaginary vignettes that draw from the artist's love of the ocean, nature and the human spirit.

10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays,  through February 16, Moody Gallery, 2815 Colquitt, 713-526-9911,

Los Angeles-based contemporary artist Todd Williamson is slated to be an official exhibitor at Venice Biennale 2019 this May, but Houston gets him first. His color-filled abstracts, created by applying and removing paint in parallel lines and blocks, are being exhibited at Nicole Longnecker Gallery in "Frequency of Sound.” On view in the back gallery are freestanding and wall sculptures made of plaster and glass by Japanese artist Masako Masukata, who makes her Texas debut.

11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, through February 16, Nicole Longnecker Gallery, 2625 Colquitt, 346-800-2780,

Take it easy, don't try to navigate Houston's traffic to hit up ten galleries all in one night, and enjoy this curated sampling in FotoFest's "The Assembly: Photography from Houston's Galleries." View works from Anya Tish Gallery (Katja Loher, Richard Tuschman), Catherine Couturier Gallery (Renate Aller, Keith Carter, S. Gayle Stevens), Cindy Lisica Gallery (Jan Rattia), Deborah Colton Gallery (Frank Rodick, Olga Tobreluts), Foto Relevance (Paul-André Larocque, Claire Rosen), Inman Gallery (Amy Blakemore, Edgar Leciejewski, Linarejos Moreno, Demetrius Oliver, Dario Robleto), Jonathan Hopson (Emily Peacock), Moody Gallery (Debra Barrera, William Christenberry, Dornith Doherty), Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino (Geraldo de Barros, Liliana Porter) and Texas Gallery (Lee Friedlander, William Wegman). A reception with gallery representatives and a few of the local artists is set for January 24 from 6-8 p.m.

11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, January 24-March 9, FotoFest International, 2000 Edwards, 713-223-5522,

Natasha Bowdoin has been busy, busy, busy, populating the Moody Center for the Arts gallery with her larger-than-life carnivorous plants, creeping vines and springtime abundance. She layers her cartoon-like overgrowth to create both patterns and chaos, adding groovy '70s textiles and drawing inspiration from George Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon to create the site-specific work, "Sideways to the Sun." Also showing in Moody Center's Spring Exhibition Openings are Justin Bruce Guariglia, "We Are the Asteroid III;" Michael Blazy, "We Were the Robots;" and Momoko Seto, "Planet [infinity]," a dystopian virtual reality experience. Rub elbows with musicians, artists and authors while eschewing climate change during A Night of Philosophy and Ideas 2019 (January 26 from 7 p.m.-1 a.m.) or attend the exhibition opening (January 25 from 6-8 p.m.).

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, January 25-May 18, Moody Center for the Arts, Rice University, 6100 Main, 713-348-2787,

click to enlarge Epidemic! Presents: Step and Screw! (detail) by Trenton Doyle Hancock. - © PHOTO BY TRENTON DOYLE HANCOCK
Epidemic! Presents: Step and Screw! (detail) by Trenton Doyle Hancock.
© Photo by Trenton Doyle Hancock
Who is Torpedoboy? That's one of Trenton Doyle Hancock's alter egos and, in this comic strip-like work on paper, our hero finds himself surrounded by hooded Ku Klux Klansmen. This is the first time that Hancock has so overtly confronted racial injustice through art, and the 30 illustrations in Epidemic! Presents: Step and Screw! will be installed in a shed, illuminated by a single light bulb, at The Menil Collection. Rounding out the gallery space, Hancock has installed a new tableau of related site-specific drawings for "Contemporary Focus: Trenton Doyle Hancock."  An opening reception is scheduled for January 25 from 7-9 p.m. An artist talk with Hancock in conversation with Senior Curator Michelle White is set for February 6 from 7-8 p.m.

11 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, January 25-May 19, The Menil Collection, 1533 Sul Ross, 713-525-9400,
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Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney