"The Beat'n Trail" Exhibit Contains Some Powerful Work, As Well As Pieces by Chicken George That Will Make You Smile

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo courtesy of Marc Newsome
A giant wooden necklace by Katie Pell
It's wonderful to enter a gallery and be struck immediately by a powerful work, and to exit a half hour later with a smile on one's lips. Such was my experience with an exhibition of Texas artists titled "The Beat'n Trail", at the Alliance Gallery. The Gallery is part of the not-for-profit Houston Arts Alliance, described as the leading force for the arts in Houston.

The striking visual, a sculpture, is by Katie Pell, and is titled Charming Are Your Unformed Wishes. It is a number of large wooden links, some curled on the floor, with interlocking links rising to the ceiling, to be continued even there. It was inspired by a family heirloom, a locket, and it gains enormously by its size.

The wood is warm, making the links an ornament instead of a chain, and its immensity suggests a generosity of spirit, a dedication to the hard work of construction, and a rich and expansive personality. There is a companion piece, charcoal on paper, that is a sketch of the chain.

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In "The Cutting Bridle" Exhibit, Allison Rathan Shows a Keen Literary Sense

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo courtesy of the artist and Archway Gallery
The Exchange by Allison Rathan has a mythic quality
The dominant picture in "The Cutting Bridle" exhibition, The Exchange, 60x48", is a self-portrait of the artist Allison Rathan, striding behind a very large wolf, the animal on a metal leash, in a dark-green forest under a crescent moon. It captures the confidence of this artist, who has blond movie star looks and the poise and litheness of a fashion model.

This painting has an air of ambiguity, and might be a book cover for an exciting combination of medieval myth and sci-fi ruminations. There is another figure in the lower left hand corner, which looks like a serpent whose head is the desert-bleached skull of a steer. Ponder away, if you wish, looking for significance, but I prefer just to savor the mystery.

The leash holder has a slit skirt that exposes a graceful leg, and her left hand is lightly cupping her left breast, a reminder that we are living in a world where sensuality, like it or not, rules. This theme runs throughout much of the other art as well.


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The Hindu Deities Unleashed at Asia Society Texas Center

Categories: Visual Arts

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Maa Laxmi, by Manjari Sharma
The Setup:
The pantheon of Hindu deities is almost too great to number; many of the gods and goddesses of the Indian subcontinent reincarnate at certain points in their mythologies into different forms, avatars with distinct attributes and temperaments. For the people of India, their deities are not passive onlookers of the human experience, but active participants that shape the word on both micro and macro levels. Asia Society Texas Center is currently showing Transcendent Deities of India: They Everyday Occurrence of the Divine, an exhibit that features the Hindu gods and goddesses as rendered through the valences of three artists working in different mediums and generations.


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The Old Friends, Horton Foote's Most Outrageous Play, Starts the Alley Season

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo © 2013, Joan Marcus
Hallie Foote as Sibyl Borden and Betty Buckley as Gertrude Hayhurst Sylvester Ratliff in the Signature Theatre production of The Old Friends
There's the usual rivalries and gothic relationships between families and friends. Yet the characters are more jet-set swingers than salt of the earth - even when they call the fictional town of Harrison, Texas home. Or so it seems.

Acclaimed playwright Horton Foote (Trip to Bountiful, The Young Man From Atlanta, Orphans Home Cycle, Dividing the Estate) was venturing pretty far afield from his usual work when he did The Old Friends. It's the story of what occurs when Sibyl Borden (Hallie Foote, the playwright's daughter) returns home and creates a domino effect that uncovers long hidden secrets and longings.


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lntroducing the Subtle Wit of Elizabeth Fox and Striking Sculptures of Jesse Lott

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo courtesy of the artist and the gallery
"Wishing You Were Here" by Elizabeth Fox, featured in a group show at d. m. allison gallery
The d. m. allison gallery is dedicated to the exploration of new and emerging talent, as well as being a venue for nationally known visual artists. In its new group show, the gallery is featuring the works of Elizabeth Fox, whose paintings have a sprightly, highly contemporary look, not too far from what might expect in a New Yorker cartoon - that, by the way, is a compliment.

The men in her paintings are all fit, and the women are slender, with great anatomies made clear by tight-fitting garments. Fox's artist statement is unusually interesting, reading in part: "Tensions are introduced to question sexual, gender, and age relation. These questions are left unanswered as to who or what is the dominant power." Along with Camille Paglia, I'm betting on the women.


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Marta Chilindron & Graciela Hasper: Dialogues

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo courtesy of the artists and Sicardi Gallery. Photography by Os Galindo.
The works of Marta Chilindron and Graciela Hasper at the Sicardi Gallery.
The Sicardi Gallery has paired two artists, both born in South America, one in Montevideo and one in Buenos Aires, who share an interest in creating colorful, vibrant art, though they are not collaborators with each other. Graciela Hasper works with acrylics on canvas to create wall art, and Marta Chilindron uses colored, transparent acrylic to create flexible sculptures.

Hasper doesn't title her works, and they are designed to be hung horizontally or vertically, with the possibility of being varied at will. A 2014 work, 53x77", has cascading transparent planes of different colors, some square, some rectangular, along with a few cubes and rectangles. It has enormous power and energy, and somehow it seems orderly as well as chaotic - I sensed that the varied elements would glide past rather than run into one another.


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Houston Founders at City Hall is a Showcase of Houston Art from the '20s to the '70s

Categories: Visual Arts

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All images courtesy of the artists and William Reaves Fine Art
Twilight, Paul Maxwell
The vibrant Houston art scene didn't spring full-blown from the contemporary professional galleries, individual studios or garages of aspiring Bayou City artists, but instead built on the artists, some brilliant, who preceded them in the 20th century. Now Houstonians have a chance to savor some of these pioneers, in an extensive exhibition that primarily covers the time frame of 1920s through the late 1970s.

"Houston Founders at City Hall" is no ordinary exhibition, since it is hung at City Hall itself and is sponsored by the Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs, in conjunction with William Reaves Fine Art. The exhibit addresses four distinct schools of painting: Impressionism, Modernism, African-American Realism and Abstract Expressionism. The art hangs in conference rooms and hallways throughout City Hall.

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A Thin Wall of Air: Charles James: High Style Ballgowns and Furniture at The Menil Collection

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo by Paul Hester
A striking sofa (rear) and a concert gown (right) designed by Charles James for the de Menils

A chance to get a glimpse of how the other half lives, or perhaps the top 1 percent, is available in the exhibit A Thin Wall of Air: Charles James, as The Menil Collection presents the exhibition of some of the gowns, and furniture, designed by James (1906-1978), known as "America's First Couturier".

The British-born designer created gowns for Dominique de Menil, and furniture for her home with John de Menil - this was the only residential commission for James, whose talents has been discovered by the de Menils in the 1940's, and who promoted him through gifts to museums of his work.

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

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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

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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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