Since moving to Houston in 1990 to be a part of the Core Residency Program at the Glassell School of Art, Aaron Parazette has become one of the city's premier artists. He's taught at The School of Art at The University of Houston for more than a decade, had several solo shows in Houston, Dallas, and abroad, and put on major shows himself, including a survey of Houston art currently up at McClain Gallery. And, of course, there's the matter of the art itself -- crisp, slick abstract designs that play with color and form in new ways -- and seem to get better and more refined every time, too.
With such a resume, Parazette's current title as Art League Houston's Texas Artist of the Year is a no-brainer. The honor is given to an artist whose work has had a significant impact on contemporary art in the state, and Parazette joins such esteemed company as Mary McCleary, Joseph Havel, and Lucas Johnson.
With the award also comes a solo show at Art League, and aren't we lucky. Parazette has decked out two walls of the space's main gallery with his signature -- a wall installation. Called "Flyaway," it's an enveloping grid of blue, green, black and white that seems to stretch on infinitely. I loved the sense of speed Parazette managed to create in his bursts of color and lines, and even, likely unintentionally, the way the colors reflected off the black floor. The painting doesn't stop.
The show also features six selections from his new "Color Key" series. Parazette has abandoned the surfer slang he's experimented with in previous solo shows and focused solely on lines, color and shape. They're unusual shapes at that -- slanted, bulging half-circles, abrupt pentagons and perfect ovals that seem as if they're reacting to the bursts of color and geometric shapes within, trying to contain it all. Of course, these paintings are contained -- whether by the limits of the canvas or the walls of the gallery itself. But at least for a little bit, it seems, those limits don't exist.
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"Flyaway: New Work by Aaron Parazette" at Art League Houston, 1953 Montrose Boulevard, runs now through November 2. For more information, call 713-523-9530 or visit www.artleaguehouston.org.