The End of Australia's Drought Reveals Riots of Color in Desert Awakening

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo by Rick Wells
"My Father's Country" by Kathleen Nanima Rambler from "Desert Awakening" exhibit at Booker-Lowe Gallery

This is the story of a small group of women who, in the face of adversity, found a way to overcome professional hurdles to continue their creative pursuits. The current exhibit at Booker•Lowe Gallery, Desert Awakening:
 Paintings by the Australian Aboriginal
 Women of Ampilatwatja, focuses on the small community of Ampilatwatja near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.

In order to depict a particular set of motifs, ancestral figures or icons, an Aboriginal artist must first ask permission from a relevant member of the community. Recently the community experienced societal problems and all painting stopped. After a period of time, a small group of women decided that they could begin painting again, as long as they didn't paint the dreamtime stories, thus avoiding the need for permission.


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"... a path to share..." Exhibit Includes 20 White Bells

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo by Paul Hester
"...in honor ... of whom?" by Marie Orensanz from " ... a path to share ... " exhibit at Sicardi Gallery

With a color palette dominated by white, works by Argentinian artist Marie Orensanz in ... a path to share ... display luminously in the 5,900 square foot Sicardi Gallery, which has represented Latin American artists since 1994.

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Photo courtesy of Sicardi Gallery
"...in honor ... of whom?" by Marie Orensanz from " ... a path to share ... " exhibit at Sicardi Gallery

In honor ... of whom? is an installation of 20 white opaline bells with stainless steel tags containing cut-out messages in English and Spanish. The piece was first shown in Buenos Aires in 2002, and again in Paris in 2009; in both instances the language of the tags was changed to that of the hosting city. Hung from the ceiling at various intervals, and casting its shadow against the walls, the piece invites the viewer to explore the space, think and perhaps ring a bell.

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Japanese Artist Kikuo Saito Shows Off His Many Styles in Houston Exhibit

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo by Robert Lorenzson, courtesy of the artist and Octavia Art Gallery
"Summer Arrow" by Kikuo Saito from exhibit at Octavia Art Gallery, Houston
There is a restlessness to the works by New York-based Japanese artist Kikuo Saito, on display now at Octavia Art Gallery, Houston. Throughout the past 30 years, this abstract expressionist has experimented with a variety of techniques including bold abstracts with wide brush strokes and unpainted areas, jumbled snail trails of saturated color that take over the canvas, partially obscured Roman letters arranged on a grid, oil and crayon on paper and a sparse abstraction of what could be stage pieces.

Of the 17 works at the gallery (11 on display), it is interesting to note that the oldest, 1981's Golden Shadow, and the most recent, 2015's Summer Arrow, each incorporate simple compositions and unfinished canvases.

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Wolf Pack Invades Historic Heights Theater; Balance Is Restored

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo by Sheila Swift Kahé
"Wolves" by Rachel Schwind Gardner in a scene from production of the video, "Rewilding: Volume I, The Heights"

Wolves are the central theme in Rachel Schwind Gardner's Rewilding exhibit, where the artist puts forth the argument that balance can be restored to ecosystems if we allow the reintroduction of non-human animals to their natural lands. Her life-size papier-mâché wolves take center stage in an artfully arranged tree limb and moss arbor courtesy of Max B. Harrison, who co-owns Gallery M Squared along with Michael P. Kubis. The wolves climb stairs, howl at the moon, play with bones, lie on their backs or curl up to sleep, all under the watchful eyes of the wolf family trilogy painting SOULcry.

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A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Multiverse in AT the Core of the Algorithm

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo by Susie Tommaney
"AT the Core of the Algorithm" by Michael Petry at Hiram Butler Gallery
Upon entering Hiram Butler Gallery to see Michael Petry's AT the Core of the Algorithm installation, a visitor might quickly decide that everything could be seen within five seconds. That's it, just the one piece, and nothing else. However, if a person looks beyond the simple beauty of hanging glass globes, the piece becomes much more interactive.

Inspired by the prime number, whole numbers divisible only by themselves and the number 1, the piece consists of opaque and clear glass globes arranged in sets of 1, 2, 3 and 5 and hung by 47 wires at staggered heights and in non-linear formation. Each of the globes has a section sliced away, similar to when one takes a bite out of an apple, while the multi-globe sets are fused together.

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Reverse Equation Offers Calming Aquatic Abstracts and Mathematical Mindscapes

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo courtesy of Laura Rathe Fine Art
"Wings of Durer" by Michael Schultheis from "Reverse Equation" exhibit at Laura Rathe Fine Art
Experience the cool, calming aquatic inspired imagery of abstract painter Katherine Houston, then warm up your brain with the three-dimensional geometric mindscapes of math artist Michael Schultheis, both on display now in the Reverse Equation exhibit at Laura Rathe Fine Art.

Schultheis plays with the concept of spherical geometry so that the edges of his compositions, which are theoretically closer to you, are full of action, while the further away centers are misty and sparse. The artist has imagined an oculus, similar to the concrete dome found in Rome's Pantheon.


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Boobs, Breasts and Tits: Socially Conscious Cancer Survivor Fights Back With Body, Mind and Art

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo by Stephen Cullar-Ledford
"Front Nipples" by Thedra Cullar-Ledford from "Drawing the Eye to Nothingness" exhibit at G Gallery
Upon receiving a diagnosis of invasive breast cancer, as 1 of every 8 women in the United States will, it is natural to want to fight the disease with every arsenal in the medical toolbox. Thedra Cullar-Ledford, in her Drawing the Eye to Nothingness exhibit at G Gallery, has launched a full-scale attack against what she refers to as tit cancer, but her weapons of choice are her body, her mind and her creativity.

Incorporating images of the breast in all of its incarnations - sustenance for the infant, object of lust, or tissue on the operating table - survivor Cullar-Ledford's message is more than just cancer awareness; she also wants to educate survivors that post-mastectomy reconstruction surgery is not mandatory.

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The John Biggers Exhibit "MAAME" Is a Most Satisfying Retrospective

Categories: Visual Arts

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Image courtesy of RedBud Gallery
Ghana Dancers by John Biggers
From April 4 to 24, RedBud Gallery may well house the coziest, most satisfying retrospective of a renowned artist in Houston. The fact that it's been more than 25 years since the last commercial exhibit of the work of John T. Biggers (1924-2001) alone makes it a noteworthy event.

What makes it remarkable is the depth and variation conveyed in these masterfully imagined works, which sometimes seem widely varied in style but carry recurring themes and images, while reflecting the artist's evolution from the 1940's into the new millennium. "MAAME"--an African word meaning "mother of mankind"--is at once homage to the divine feminine, slice of Americana and bold reclaiming of culture, told in intricate, breath-taking detail in black and white lithographs, wood cuts, and colorful drawings and prints.


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View Some of the Most Important Archaeological Finds of the 20th Century at The Houston Museum of Natural Science

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Photo courtesy of Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, CA
Sun Wheel from "China's Lost Civilization: The Mystery of Sanxingdui" exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

Objects from what is being billed as one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th century can be viewed at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in its upcoming exhibit, China's Lost Civilization: The Mystery Of Sanxingdui, opening April 10.

The ancient jades, weapons, burned animal bones, elephant tusks, statues and masks were found in two sacrificial pits outside the Sichuan Province capitol of Chengdu, in southwest China. "We all know China has one of the oldest civilizations, other than Egypt and Mesopotamia," said Dr. Dirk Van Tuerenhout, HMNS curator of anthropology.

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One Hundred Years Strong: Tour the Major Modernist Thrust of European/American Art at the Menil

Categories: Visual Arts

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© 2015 The Barnett Newman Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Photo: Imaging Department © President and Fellows of Harvard College
CR 326, graphite sketch on paper, c. 1969

Ostensibly this is a review of the exhibition "Barnett Newman: The Late Work," which recently opened at The Menil Collection. It's their major show of the spring season, and I'll talk about it some toward the end.

But even more important than a single major show is the opportunity the Menil is giving us for the next few months to take an exhilarating visual tour through the major modernist thrust of European/American art for the hundred years from the 1860s to the 1960s.

With a couple of special exhibitions (including Newman), a stunning reinstallation of the permanent collection, and the old standby -- but always standout -- Surrealist holdings, they're giving us here in Houston an art-history experience that can be bested only at the likes of MOMA in New York or the Centre Pompidou in Paris, if even there.

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