Kerry Inman's stint in Doug Lawing's downtown space has invigorated the gallery owner, her staff and her artists. Coping with all the street construction is enough to keep anyone on her toes; and while Inman's shows have always been hung well (make of that what you will), it's been especially true this past season. The space has not only allowed Inman's artists to really shine (Tommy Fitzpatrick and Emily Joyce were particular standouts) but it's also helped Inman prepare for her new gallery opening this fall on Montrose. And [email protected]'s innovative programming -- bringing in Walter Hopps Award nominee Franklin Sirmans to guest-curate a show, Dario Robleto's two-part exhibit last spring -- has kept gallerygoers on their toes as well.
If you've been feeling a bit quadrilaterally sharp-angled and clueless lately, go to an opening at Mixture. Between the art (on the walls and elsewhere), by some of the hippest young talent in Houston, L.A., Chi-town and New York, and the youngish hipsters meandering about sipping wine, you'll soon be feeling rounded off and filled in. Under director Lisa Cooley and proprietor Dan Fergus, Mixture is transforming itself into a commercial galley-cum-cultural center ("It's a furniture polish and a desert topping!"), expanding its purview to include performance art and film programs in the courtyard tucked behind the gallery. This place is so hip, we're surprised they let us hang out there.

If you've been feeling a bit quadrilaterally sharp-angled and clueless lately, go to an opening at Mixture. Between the art (on the walls and elsewhere), by some of the hippest young talent in Houston, L.A., Chi-town and New York, and the youngish hipsters meandering about sipping wine, you'll soon be feeling rounded off and filled in. Under director Lisa Cooley and proprietor Dan Fergus, Mixture is transforming itself into a commercial galley-cum-cultural center ("It's a furniture polish and a desert topping!"), expanding its purview to include performance art and film programs in the courtyard tucked behind the gallery. This place is so hip, we're surprised they let us hang out there.

TV boldly goes where it's never gone before in the artwork of Brian Heiss. An amalgam of architect, sculptor and tinkerer, Heiss is on a crusade to change the way we look at television. Heiss changes both the forms and the electronics of new and vintage sets, creating art objects that also function as innovative design. His show at Lawndale Art Center last spring featured Mercury, an obvious attempt to get people's asses off the couch. Its ergonomic shell of sandwiched plywood requires the viewer to tip, tilt and turn the television over to control volume, change channels and turn it off and on. The similarly interactive TV of Lazy is housed in a tower of opaque Plexiglas. Moving back and forth in front of its motion sensor keeps it on; sitting down changes it into a reading light. But Heiss's Dakkomakura (Nurture Pillow), enhances the couch potato experience with a tiny TV housed in a long blue pillow. Now you can literally curl up with Letterman.

TV boldly goes where it's never gone before in the artwork of Brian Heiss. An amalgam of architect, sculptor and tinkerer, Heiss is on a crusade to change the way we look at television. Heiss changes both the forms and the electronics of new and vintage sets, creating art objects that also function as innovative design. His show at Lawndale Art Center last spring featured Mercury, an obvious attempt to get people's asses off the couch. Its ergonomic shell of sandwiched plywood requires the viewer to tip, tilt and turn the television over to control volume, change channels and turn it off and on. The similarly interactive TV of Lazy is housed in a tower of opaque Plexiglas. Moving back and forth in front of its motion sensor keeps it on; sitting down changes it into a reading light. But Heiss's Dakkomakura (Nurture Pillow), enhances the couch potato experience with a tiny TV housed in a long blue pillow. Now you can literally curl up with Letterman.

University art galleries aren't typically known for cutting-edge contemporary art. But when Kim Davenport arrived at Rice Gallery almost ten years ago, she transformed a moribund institutional space into a venue for dynamic site-specific installations. The gallery was only the second U.S. institution -- after the Museum of Modern Art -- to host a project by Shigeru Ban, the Japanese architect who has designed everything from cost-efficient refugee housing to the second-place proposal for the World Trade Center site. Last spring Rice Gallery housed 7,000 pounds of cardboard for Phoebe Washburn's enormous vortex of consumer product boxes. Prior years have hosted projects as varied as Michael Shaughnessy's giant hay sculpture, Jennifer Steinkamp's animated video projections and Stephen Hendee's faceted architectural environment (which looked like a techno-green version of Superman's fortress of solitude). It's definitely worth wandering onto campus to see who Davenport brings in next.

University art galleries aren't typically known for cutting-edge contemporary art. But when Kim Davenport arrived at Rice Gallery almost ten years ago, she transformed a moribund institutional space into a venue for dynamic site-specific installations. The gallery was only the second U.S. institution -- after the Museum of Modern Art -- to host a project by Shigeru Ban, the Japanese architect who has designed everything from cost-efficient refugee housing to the second-place proposal for the World Trade Center site. Last spring Rice Gallery housed 7,000 pounds of cardboard for Phoebe Washburn's enormous vortex of consumer product boxes. Prior years have hosted projects as varied as Michael Shaughnessy's giant hay sculpture, Jennifer Steinkamp's animated video projections and Stephen Hendee's faceted architectural environment (which looked like a techno-green version of Superman's fortress of solitude). It's definitely worth wandering onto campus to see who Davenport brings in next.

Billed as "networked electro-mechanical kinetic sculpture with integrated music," Jeff Shore's work is far more haunting and poetic than its literal description. The artist builds tiny models of everything from low-rent living rooms to airplane interiors. Then his elaborate mechanical contraptions move tiny surveillance cameras through the miniature worlds. The results are screened on nearby video monitors. Add to all that the evocative sound compositions of Shore's Chicago collaborator Jon Fisher, and you've got quirky work that's as hard to categorize as it is fascinating. Shore and Fisher work long hours and self-fund their elaborate, labor-intensive projects, but their efforts pay off in magical, otherworldly environments -- each one more amazing than the last.

Billed as "networked electro-mechanical kinetic sculpture with integrated music," Jeff Shore's work is far more haunting and poetic than its literal description. The artist builds tiny models of everything from low-rent living rooms to airplane interiors. Then his elaborate mechanical contraptions move tiny surveillance cameras through the miniature worlds. The results are screened on nearby video monitors. Add to all that the evocative sound compositions of Shore's Chicago collaborator Jon Fisher, and you've got quirky work that's as hard to categorize as it is fascinating. Shore and Fisher work long hours and self-fund their elaborate, labor-intensive projects, but their efforts pay off in magical, otherworldly environments -- each one more amazing than the last.

His whereabouts these days are unknown, but take a walk or a drive down any one of Houston's center-city streets or freeways, and you're bound to see some of his work. Possibly the most "up" graffiti writer in Houston, NEXT took over this city for a couple of good years, leaving our cops perplexed and other taggers in the dust. Many a warehouse party and underground gathering has been broken up by police in search of this guy called NEXT, but he's always escaped the long arm of the law. Some say he's laying low outside the city for a while until the heat goes down. But this is Texas, and the heat never goes down, so for a graffiti artist of his stature, moving on down the railroad track to another burg might not be a bad idea. Till then we'll still chuckle every time we see his tag at the top of a freeway exit sign or at the bottom end of a bus stop pole.

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