The Stars Have Fallen on Discovery Green

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo by Katya Horner
"Field of Light" by Bruce Munro at Discovery Green
The stars have fallen on Discovery Green, courtesy of British artist Bruce Munro and his Field of Light installation of illuminated fiber optics. Living in the nation's fourth largest city, light pollution has made it impossible to see the more than 2,500 stars visible to the human eye, but for just a few more weeks we can see something almost as fantastic in the 4,550 radiant, frosted glass spheres along the Brown Promenade of this downtown park.

Mounted on springs and waving in the wind, the lights wax and wane like fireflies, with bright lines of illuminated fiber optic trailing back to the energy sources.


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"The Art of Celebration" Exhibit Explodes in Bright Colors

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo courtesy of Nicole Longnecker Gallery and Celebration Company
A cycle of Rain by Halley Turner
Bright, happy colors, complex themes, and a strong use of red are all evident in the current "The Art of Celebration" exhibit at Nicole Longnecker Gallery, which features artists from Houston's Jewish Family Service's Celebration Company, a program for adults with disabilities. The common theme of this exhibit is joyfulness, and artist Ari Klein said it best, "I enjoy drawing because I am able to think out loud on paper."

Standouts include Arthur Alexander's The Sun at Night, with a tiny little white sun on a blue background in the upper left-hand corner. The theme of houses is repeated in his works, and is executed beautifully in Gray Barn House.

Inspired by Baytown's chemical plants, Ian Spindler used a more muted palette. The yellow red, The green apartment in baytown and The golden chemical plant/blue featured outlined linear structures; one sported red monster goblins, eponymous of leaked poisons and chemical spills.

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John Halaka's "Portraits of Denial & Desire" Tell a Palestinian Story

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo by John Halaka
Umm Hussein

Activist artist John Halaka, of Palestinian descent, was born in Egypt and has roots in Houston; after graduating from the University of Houston he went on to teach at UH, North Harris County College, The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and The Glassell School of Art.

His current exhibit at Rice University, "Portraits of Denial & Desire," focuses on displaced indigenous Palestinians and their stories of exile, resistance and survival. He has enlarged his photographs, stripped them of color and printed them in triptych form on oversized blankets, which serve as both a symbol of protection, as well as an illustration of the temporary nature of refugees.

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Stephen Daly's "Drawings and Sculpture" Exhibit

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo courtesy of Stephen Daly
Intervention, ink and water color on paper
Cryptic languages, hidden doors, secret passageways and escape hatches: expect to find this and more in Stephen Daly's "Drawings and Sculpture" exhibit at Gremillion & Co. It is the modus operandi of this former professor of art (now Professor Emeritus, University of Texas) to challenge and lead the viewers into drawing their own conclusions, leaving just enough clues to guide the way.

Daly uses the letter format, with salutation, rows of communication and signature, in both 3/25/14 Letter and 3/8/12 Letter, but the language was none I had encountered before. It is a linguistic foil, not really saying anything, but offering the possibility of communication. Calligraphic characters, pretend redactions and autonomous images are arranged in a collective way to create an atmosphere that allows the reader to enter the work.

Understanding these two smaller works proves to be an excellent training ground for the larger Intervention. On a macro level, its quilt-like squares and edging create an arena for two larger zones, struggling for space across a great blockade. Everything becomes much more interesting when viewed on a micro scale, with small private and public spaces offering false barriers and ways to escape to the next zone through ladders, hidden doors and travel paths. Follow the trails through the composition to discover symbolic repeats, word images and secret treasures in some of the more quiet zones.

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Trey Egan Channels Emotion and Frustration in His "Signal Chamber" Exhibit

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo by Trey Egan
Worlds Apart; Days Turn Into Night
Action painter Trey Egan channels personal emotion and the pain of creative or financial frustrations, amplified by super loud electronic music, to produce multi-layered oil paintings of non-objective physicality in his "Signal Chamber" exhibit at McMurtrey Gallery.

Egan has an uncanny ability to portray depth, with his layering process of earlier stages of flatter, natural tones, followed by later stages of spot-putted saturated colors. He is fascinated by the mechanics of music production, likening his work to the stacking of similar elements to achieve a more powerful outcome. There is a busy-ness to his works, a continuity of his pre-2011 crowds of people, but he has since realized that the subject matter is less important than the energy and controlled chaos of thoughtfully placed shapes and color.


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Adela Andea's "On the Left Side of Mercury" Is Otherworldly, of Course

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo courtesy of Anya Tish Gallery
White Dwarf, 2014
A person doesn't need to book a flight on Virgin Galactic to travel to outer space; just stop by Anya Tish Gallery to see Adela Andea's imaginary naturescapes brought to life through neon, LED lights, Plexiglass, mirrors and spec-fabricated consumer electronics. The pieces in the series, "On the Left Side of Mercury," are both otherworldly, such as the cataclysm of an exploding planet, and also terrestrial, though straight from the depths of the Mariana Trench.

I wanted to use the word bioluminescence to describe her pieces, but she's used that title in previous exhibits; though there's no denying that her creations could be used to warn or evade predators, to lure or detect prey, or as inter-species communications.

First to catch the eye is Solar Wind, an intricate arrangement of rings, coils, tubing and clusters with magenta flashing lights, planets being birthed and ending with an arrow leading to the great beyond. This piece is so detailed that even the shadows cast upon the wall are fascinating.


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"Arranging Family:" First Solo Exhibit by Carlee Fernandez

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo courtesy of the artist and Inman Gallery
Let This Cup Pass From Us

Photographer and sculptor Carlee Fernandez uses the central theme of family - and how the past intersects with the present and gives hope for the future - to demonstrate her centeredness and strength. According to Ernest Becker's Denial of Death, to live a truly authentic and genuine life, a person must face the reality of death and limitation. Fernandez's reverence for her ancestors, who join her in spirit, allows her to create something larger than self in her first solo exhibition in Houston, "Arranging Family," at Inman Gallery.

Family, Baptismal Cup, a larger-than-life bronze sculpture (32" x 48" x 24"), was inspired by her husband's christening cup. She has meticulously added the names and birthdates for his ancestors back to Rufus (1804) and Emma (1809). Winding around from the other side, she also engraved her own family line, over seven generations, until they meet together with the birth of their sons, Xavier and William. It's a bittersweet tribute, lovely in its beauty, but sad in the knowledge that the family tree must end here, as the cup is now full. The piece appears again in an archival print (72" x 55"), Let This Cup Pass From Us, as the legs of her small family of four protrude out, with just the faintest glimpse of the tops of heads inside.

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8th Annual Texas Teapot Tournament Commences in Style

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo by Meryl Ruth
Ra-ta-tat Tea by Meryl Ruth

"This ain't your Grandma's teapot." With apologies to the grammar police, I highly recommend visiting 18 Hands Gallery to see ceramic creations that resemble space creatures, leopard-print boots, monkey heads or something straight out of Tim Burton's brain. Entries from the Houston-based Clay Arts Museum and Educational Organization are on display this month in CAMEO's 8th Annual Texas Teapot Tournament.

A person could easily picture Hobbits from Middle-earth drinking tea from Welsh ceramist Geoffrey Swindell's Best of Show entry; tiny polka dots on a delicate miniature pot with minaret top. Imagine viewing farmlands from an airplane window, but in hues of brown, orange and tan.

Second place winner Scott Dooley's Industrial Teapot was all angles and elbows; a mottled patchwork of yellow and olive tones, cobbled together with an Erector Set (though still fashioned from clay), and topped with the tiniest lid imaginable. He had another piece in the show, smaller and more neon green in tone, which strongly resembled a Rube Goldberg machine.

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J. Todd Allison's "Conversations from the Satellites" Exhibit at G Gallery is Otherworldly

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo courtesy of G Gallery
Harnessing the Lure
There is an argument that the qualities attributed to schizophrenia - the inability to filter out irrelevant information - may be beneficial for creativity, allowing the individual to see connections others may not notice.

J. Todd Allison, drawing inspiration from his father's struggle with this disease, has unleashed a futuristic, scientific and fantastic world in his "Conversations from the Satellites" exhibit on display at G Gallery. His drive to channel his father's visions into otherworldly depictions drove him to produce these works in just 2.5 months.


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"Masks, Monsters and Monoliths" Celebrates Art and Recycling

Categories: Visual Arts

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Photo courtesy of Archway Gallery
Wide Eyed by Sherry Tseng Hill

A viewer can't help but smile upon entering Archway Gallery for the "Masks, Monsters and Monoliths" exhibit and being greeted by Jim Adams' Monster Family. Dad leads the charge, mom brings up the year, with four monster children in between. Ranging in height from 28.5" to 42.5", the five pieces of steel sculpture can be arranged and rearranged at will; the characters are full of motion and life - some reticent, some dancing ahead, all hungry and talking - with broken, snaggled teeth, bulging eyeballs and long legs atop chicken feet.

This sculptor's gift is to transform junk, often gnarly, pitted and twisted, and let the piece tell him what it wants to be. This particular series consists of reclaimed pipe and rail track hardware, brought to life through heat and fire.

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