Three Reasons to See "Round 34: A Matter of Food"

The set-up:

Project Row Houses' current round of installations takes food as its theme - the roles it plays in culture, history, belief systems, rituals and community. Chefs, historians, nutritionists and gardeners (as well as artists) were asked to participate by curators Ashley Clemmer Hoffman and Linda Shearer.

The execution:

New York-based artist Michael Pribich's Sugar Land presents the sugar trade from the laborer to the factory, with stalks of cane standing upright inside a brass railing, bags of Imperial Sugar stacked upon wall-mounted machetes, and a series of framed dollar bills with stamped letters that spell "Imperial."

Jorge Rojas's Gente de Maiz explores corn/maize as a religious entity. He created a miniature army of corn people and a kind of altar/shrine to the corn gods.

And Tamalyn Miller's Spirit House takes inspiration from Amish hex signs with a series of large crocheted doilies (made of clothesline, string and electrical wire, and adorned with horseshoes, dimes and railroad spikes. Not really food-inspired, but it's the most inspired installation in the round. The signs are thought to repel evil spirits and energy, but their presence makes each room feel haunted somehow.

The verdict:

There's less art on display than usual at Project Row Houses. Perhaps that's because the round leans heavily on community outreach, historical commentary and environmental projects. Only three houses out of the seven (those mentioned above) present challenging emotional and intellectual experiences. But they are worth a visit.

The exhibition runs through June 19 at Project Row Houses, 2521 Holman. For information, call 713-526-7662.

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