An Indisputable List of the 20 Greatest Movie Posters of All Time

Our esteemed editor sent me an email last week that included the poster for Kevin Smith's upcoming movie, Tusk. Whatever your opinion of Smith's filmography -- or your views on the potential entertainment value of a horror movie based on a SModcast bullshit session about a mock Gumtree ad -- the poster is pretty outstanding.

But the purpose of this entry is not to debate the merits of the Askewniverse, but to finally, once and for all, provide a definitive listing of the greatest movie posters OF ALL TIME. The only criteria being that I could find jpegs of them online, that the movie in question was in a theater at some point in its existence, and the posters were used for the theatrical release (no Criterion or Mondo editions).

I also tried to limit any given artist to two entries, otherwise this would be nothing but 20 Saul Bass posters.

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Throwback Thursday: Put on Your Dancing Shoes at Spring Street Studios

Put on your dancing shoes

Many people know Spring Street Studios is where you go to watch theater offerings from Stark Naked Theatre Company and Mildred's Umbrella and that it is filled with visual arts studios as well.

This Thursday, Spring Street Studios is hosting its first ever Throwback Thursday to celebrate both theater companies' upcoming seasons and to also highlight the other building occupants.

"We have a lot of artists but we also have some businesses in the building," says Stark Naked's co-founder Kim Tobin-Lehl. Sponsored in part by the Houston Press, the event will also highlight a bicycle tour company, a yoga studio, and a paper company.

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Martin Durazo: Territory & Owen Drysdale: Plinth: Large Paintings and Visual Haikus

Categories: Visual Arts

Photo courtesy of Martin Durazo and the Barbara Davis Gallery
The complex "Castle" by Martin Durazo
Martin Durazo paints large - his "Empire" is 60x48" - and uses pink, blue, white, and yellow to create a sense of variety. There are also black lines, close to smudges, that add emphasis, and blue and white circles, seemingly stenciled, that intrude to add another element. The result is colorful, but cold.

"Jones" is the same size, and is similar, with three stencils figuring more prominently, though partially painted over to soften their inpact. Some red in the lower left hand corner anchors the work. "Territory" is larger, 72x108", and includes some of the same colors and elements, but here with purple oblongs added that shape its composition.

The three other paintings on display in his exhibit Territory have abandoned the stencil effect -- I didn't miss it. "Castle" has a dominant yellow-green object bottom center, balanced by a much smaller red bar, center top, a bit like a Christmas stocking hung by the fireplace. The bottom figure is ambiguous - it could even be echoing the shape of one of Niki de Saint Phalle's "Nanas".

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Altered Angles: George Grochocki & Shayne Murphy Take Courageous Chances

Categories: Visual Arts

Photo courtesy of George Grochocki and the Anya Tish Gallery
A three-dimensional work by George Grochocki as part of the Altered Angles exhibition
Two very different painters are having their work shown at the sleek Anya Tish Gallery in an exhibition entitled Altered Angles: George Grochocki & Shayne Murphy. Both artists take chances, and both are courageous.

George Grochocki seems minimalist, but gives a lot, relying on three-dimensional shaping, and the wit of almost-hidden color accents to add drama. "Between Black Silence and White Movement", however, is all white, 16 three-dimensional squares arranged into a larger square, with the individual squares tilting at angles to create shadow and light.

"All Quantities are Straight Unity" is also all white, and has two vertical pillars, each with four varying recesses. This could be a maquette for a futuristic apartment house, or for an IKEA bookcase to house computers that will one day dominate us with elegance of design; the possibilities are endless.

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Check Mate Featuring Gil Bruvel Creates Powerful Images in Steel and Glass

Categories: Visual Arts

Photo courtesy of the artist and the gallery
A sculpture by Gil Bruvel at Laura Rathe Fine Art.
Gil Bruvel's brilliant steel and ceramic chess sets - three of them, each different - are mounted on pedestals for easy viewing, and they dominate the center of the Laura Rathe Fine Art Gallery.

They are witty, urbane, and beautiful, and add grace and vitality to the board of this challenging game. Even the board is art, as it is glass, with half the squares supported by individual works of art, each different, and half floating, so he desired checkerboard pattern is achieved. The facial expressions on royalty are to be savored, as is the private stair to her throne of one queen.

You may have seen other complex chess sets and boards, but I doubt if you've ever seen any that rival these in their airy, three-dimensional quality, each piece separate and movable. The detailing is rich and inventive, and I'm glad to have seen them. They are elegant - I wondered who could live up to them - perhaps the Pope, or aliens when next they visit.

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Lawndale's The Big Show Doesn't Disappoint

"Pinkscape" by Leslie Roades
For 30 years running, The Big Show at Lawndale has been treating Houston to an exceptional collection of local works in an effort to entice art lovers and put the spotlight on undiscovered artists. This year's efforts continue the tradition of offering beautiful artwork from a variety of mediums.

The show, which opened on Friday night, features 115 different works from 106 different artists. The selection was juried this year by Erin Elder, the visual art director of Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe. Elder had her work cut out for her. A total of 981 works were submitted by 382 different artists. They don't call it "The Big Show" for nothing. The exhibition is certainly large and widely varied. I was hard-pressed to find any two artists whose work overlapped in style, which I appreciated.

If there were any common themes, it may have been the idea of the "selfie," which showed up in several pieces. It's odd to think about the "self-portrait" taking on a more technological viewpoint, since it is as old as art itself. It's difficult to even express the difference between the traditional self-portrait and the "selfie," save linguistics. The selfie just feels more egotistical in some respects. Whether this was intended by the artists of The Big Show or not, it felt that way.

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Scott Rosenberg's Snail Trail Makes Good Use of Materials Both Found and Created

Categories: Visual Arts

Photo courtesy of Ken Watkins
Scott Rosenberg and some of his art at the Tommy Zoya Gallery
The "Snail Trail" refers to the garden theme found in this exhibition, but, wait, before I proceed to that, I'd like to cite a statement from the press release that is captivating and endearing: "Scott Rosenberg rarely overthinks his work, creating pieces that lack pretention and avoid complex metaphors." I would have said that the work was light-hearted, buoyant, and whimsical, but the press release says it better, and the misspelling of "pretension" simply adds to its charm.

I especially liked a severely damaged ceramic birdbath with a black bird - I imagine it to be a raven - bending down to be, surprisingly, kissed by a bluebird a fraction of its size. The sculpture suggests neglect, decay, and abandonment, and yet romance survives.

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Concealed Revealed: A Trio of Emerging Artists W/ Experimental Work

Categories: Visual Arts

Photo courtesy of the artist and Hunter Gather Gallery
"Clay and Smoke #8" by Sandria Hu
The Hunter Gather gallery is off the beaten track for art galleries, ensconced in its intimate space on Gulfton Road, just west of 610. One of strengths is providing an opportunity for emerging artists to present work that may be experimental in nature.

The current Concealed Revealed shows the work of three artists: Cathie Kayser, Sandria Hu, and Sandra York.

Kayser works in black and white, or in muted tones. Her small work "Caught" is minimalist to an extreme, and I had difficulty becoming involved with it. Her larger work "Caught in a Net of My Own Making" has a similar problem, and the title here may be emblematic - if one shares too little, one may be expected to pay a price.

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Nancy Ellison's Celebrity Photos "Altered Egos" on View at Decorative Center Houston

Categories: Visual Arts

Photo courtesy of Nancy Ellison/Polaris Images
Sharon Stone with her "bad girl" persona ablaze
The retrospective of the photographs of Nancy Ellison are about celebrities, but not just any celebrities - they include many of the towering iconic figures of twentieth-century film art - individuals whose film personalities taught us about the world.

Where would be without Jack Nicholson, or Sharon Stone? The poorer, no doubt, but I'm not sure, since I can no longer imagine a world without them. They have imprinted themselves upon us, in vivid and indelible images.

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The Great American Landscape Presents Striking Pictures From Several Artists at Meredith Long & Company

Categories: Visual Arts

Photo by Meredith Long & Company
A striking painting, "In and Out of Clouds" by William Anzalone, in the exhibition The Great American Landscape.
The Great American Landscape, from Meredith Long & Company, features the work of Larry Horowitz, but the paintings by William Anzalone capture the imagination as well, and a number of artists in this group show manage to stand out with a single painting.

Michael Coleman's "Sneaky Approach" is a fascinating tableau as a fox hides behind some shrubbery near a river stream, while two birds (plovers?) wade upstream, creating a sense of the suspense before the pounce. A number of black birds are flying overhear, while a predator hawk soars above them, an echo of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "nature red in tooth and claw".

The light on vegetation holds the eye, adding a calmness that is vividness itself.
Al Barnes "Ghosting" presents a two-masted sailboat, towing a small barge. while seagulls circle overhead. The ship's bowsprit juts out ahead, holding the additional forward sail, and leading the way like a guide. Trees and an interesting sky complete the maritime picture.

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