Yamatane: Yusuke Asai Created a Massive Mural out of Local Soil

Categories: Visual Arts

Nash Baker © nashbaker.com
Jungle mountains against a spotted sky.
A remarkable installation by Japanese artist Yusuke Asai painted entirely with earth found around Houston -- 27 different colors -- is now on view at Rice Gallery. The mural dominates the exhibition room, rising from floor to ceiling, sweeping to three walls and even spilling onto the floor, so huge, so vast as to seem uncontrollable.

Rice University students gathered the colors from 11 different sites, making this the widest spectrum of colors representing a specific place that Asai has ever used. Asai calls dirt a "living medium." He has named the installation "-Yamatane," Japanese for "mountain seed."

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Danny Rolph's "Paradiso" Exhibit Offers a Festival of Color

Categories: Visual Arts

Photo courtesy of Barbara Davis Gallery
Dragster 5by Danny Rolph captures the high level velocity of his work
Danny Rolph offers us a hint of the future to come, in nine major paintings, acrylic on canvas, all completed this year or last. It is a utopian future, airy, bright, with open spaces, colorful, and filled with vibrant energy.

"Paradiso" might have been called Dragster as well, as there are three paintings - Dragster 2, Dragster 4 and Dragster 5 - that reveal Rolph's fondness for high velocity. Dragster 5 may be the most powerful in the exhibition, dazzling with vivid colors. Luscious red lips reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe entice at bottom left, suggesting sensuality, or perhaps the reward for a victory. Despite this, I sensed the existence of a laboratory, testing the frontiers of scientific technology. Either way, it is a delicious ferment.

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When Wood Met Design: LeeAnn Gorman and Paula Haymond

Categories: Visual Arts

Photo courtesy of Archway Gallery
Wooden sculptures by Paula Haymond are shown in front of an acrylic painting by LeeAnn Gorman
Painter LeeAnn Gorman met sculptor Paula Haymond at the Archway Gallery, and they formed a friendship which has now led to a collaboration.

In the current show, each artist has solo pieces, but also shown are works where their efforts are collaborative.

The artists exchanged ideas as well as efforts, and Gorman's use of mapping as a theme has been incorporated by Haymond, even in her solo pieces. Gorman's paintings use acrylic on canvas, and resemble is some ways the kind of map one might see of an underground subway system in London or New York.

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One of a Kind: Artwork From the Collection of Stephanie Smither

Categories: Visual Arts

Photo by Gabriella Nissen
Stephanie Smither, named 2014 Texas Patron of the Year
Stephanie Smither is an avid and perspicacious collector of folk art; this is made crystal clear in a varied and engrossing exhibition of some of the works from her collection at Art League Houston.

There are art pieces from more than 30 artists, many self-taught, some internationally recognized, some emerging, and some pieces from unidentified artists, which Smither has obtained from sources where the artist is unknown.

One of these is a sculpture made entirely from wire, seemingly a tribute to a wedding bower. The central focus is on a driver controlling two donkeys, which are pulling a carriage. On either side are two large heart-shaped holders of photographs, one of a man and one of a woman, presumably the betrothed couple. There is a central swan, and the sculpture, primarily green, is also filled with colorful elements. It sings of love and devotion, and its intricate design and detail testify to the artistry of the unknown sculptor who created it.

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Guardians of Houston: Jorge Marín's "Wings of the City" Are Breathtaking in Their Humanity

Categories: Visual Arts

Photos by Katya Horner
A winged angel holds a dying woman. Though her eyes are closed, she is still alive, as in desperation one arm clings tightly to the angel. His expression is a complex mixture of sadness at her anguish and perhaps of resignation as to the inevitability of death, while showing his concentration on the comfort that his arms can offer.

The wings are magnificent in their detailing, yet he chooses not to fly but to offer what solace he can. And we sense that he knows that it is not enough. It is a heart-breaking metaphor for the human condition.

While abstract art can inspire or intrigue or awe or terrify or delight, it usually cannot involve a viewer deeply in its emotional power or create a sense of identification or of unity with the art.

Such is not the case with the works of Jorge Marín, whose "Wings of the City" installation at Discovery Green has nine sculptures scattered throughout its premises. Some of the sculptures are powerful, some playful, some enigmatic, but all are filled with a love for and an appreciation of humanity that is breathtaking and admirable. Though they represent a higher order of being -- most are winged -- they have retained their humanity.

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Magical and Fantastic: Patrick Renner Transforms Dream Images into Reality

Walk through Eastwood Park on Harrisburg Boulevard and be prepared for a bit of visual hijinks. Depending on your vantage point, you might see an aluminum rocket ship jutting upward or a bicycle Ferris wheel spinning in the wind. An orange automobile plods through the air and a Chinese dragon boat floats through the trees as if enchanted. Get a little bit closer and grab one of the five handles. Make it move and change shape. It's the nearest thing you'll get to experiencing a daydream in the physical world.

What you're seeing is Conduit, the latest public art installation by Houston artist Patrick Renner. The sculptures of transportation through the ages are supported above a stream of interwoven wood panels painted in blues, purples and greens. The winding base takes its form from a section of Houston's intricate bayou system, a tribute to the city's development and progress through modes of moving into the future. And just like daydreams, Conduit is temporary; you have until November 30 to experience its fantastical charms.

When the Houston Arts Alliance started putting together its Transported + Renewed calendar of events, Renner seemed a natural fit for the scope of the three-month-long program of cultural activities in Houston's East End supported by an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. "I feel like Transported + Renewed is very much about participation, and it also speaks to collaboration and a lot of things that are larger than life," says HAA's Folklife + Traditional Arts program manager, Angel Quesada. "All of these things are intrinsic to his art-making." There's also the fact that Renner's final products tend to be beautiful objects that just about anyone can appreciate. "There's no pretension to his work," says Quesada. "It really is just what it is. You can see the hand in it. People really appreciate that somebody made that. If you can order it from a machine, it loses a lot of charm for me."

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"Fool's Gold": Katy Heinlein & Alika Herreshoff Use Strong Colors to Deliver Their Visions

Categories: Visual Arts

Photo by Art Palace
Workaround is a fabric sculpture by Katy Heinlein
Strong colors deliver the messages of two artists, one using fabric sculptures and one employing acrylic on canvas. The small but enlightening exhibition is at the intimate Art Palace, which seems to have a knack for displaying innovative art.

Katy Heinlein's Workaround is deceptively simple. Its shape at first glance seems as though it might be a chair tossed on its side, but inspection indicates otherwise. The shape is interesting, and defies familiar categorization.

The structure is covered in green fabric, with a gold fabric strip covering part of the top and running down one side and extending onto the floor, a bit like a serpent seeking to exit the forest. What makes it intriguing is the vividness of the green, the golden hue of the strap, and the subtlety of a teal backing for the strap.

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Monet Gets Rollin' on the River at MFAH Exhibit

MFAH/Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund
Claude Monet, "The Seine at Lavacourt," 1880, oil on canvas.

Throughout his lengthy artistic life, Claude Monet (1840-1926) painted a lot of different subject matter. But he had a particular fondness for water. And then for one certain body of water.

"I have painted the Seine throughout my entire life, at every hour, at every season," he once said. "I have never tired of it. For me, the Seine is always new."

Things get rollin' on the river when the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston presents a unique exhibit of 52 works by the leading light of French Impressionism in "Monet and the Seine: Impressions of a River."

The exhibit was put together by the MFAH and the Philbrook Museum of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Works were borrowed from a variety of museum, corporate, and private collections.

The paintings - which span decades - detail Monet's fascination with the waterway, and include many from his groundbreaking 1896-97 "Mornings on the Seine" series, which were exhibited to great acclaim.

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2015 Houston Firefighters Calendar Premieres October 10

Firefighters out on the street, covering blazes, are almost always kitted out in boots, helmet, heavy gloves and figure-concealing coats.

Once a year, all that comes off, though, to benefit the the non profit Houston Fire Fighters Burned Children Fund. Twelve models grace the pages in the hopes that by unveiling all that eye candy underneath the protective gear, they can raise money for the fund and the children it serves.

This Friday, the 25th Anniversary Silver Edition of the Houston Fire Fighters Calendar will be unveiled complete with appearances and signings by some of its models at an 8 p.m. event at Whiskey River Houston at 7637 FM 1960.

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"Mokha Laget: Chromatic Constructs" Provides Delightful Moments

Categories: Visual Arts

Photo by Adrienne Meyers
Ponte Vecchio by Mokha Laget
My first praise for Mokha Laget is to compliment her on breaking free of what I term
"the tyranny of the rectangle", a straightjacket which many artists seem condemned to wear. Her shapes are her own, and they are refreshingly different.

Laget's work has elements of architecture - while the paintings are two-dimensional, the images portray boxes, pathways, edifices that entice one to enter to explore their interiors - would that you could - and combinations that suggest mazes.

Laget uses vivid, striking colors, including an effective use of black, which seem to jostle each other - perhaps fighting for territory? The contrasts delight and the combinations entertain. Laget uses clay-based pigments on canvas, with the central theme of her work that each color field is an entity to itself - there is no blending, no softening, no blurring, just a color seeking - no, demanding! - its place in the sun.

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