Art Notes

Blowing Out the Candles: Celebrations are in order. Nancy Whitenack%26rsquo;s Conduit Gallery turns 30 and has never boasted stronger programming. You never know what you%26rsquo;ll discover at this Design District pioneer, but be assured that it will be important and often ground-breaking. (I%26rsquo;ll never forget a show several summers ago by Heyd Fontentot; I walked into the installation, a Victorian-inspired chamber within the white cube, to discover hundreds of little nudes, hand-painted and cavorting on the walls %26mdash; but that%26rsquo;s not all. One of them was yours truly, part of the artist%26rsquo;s series of art-world pals and players. Up now is lyrical painting by Texas talent Marcelyn McNeil, who contributes a nice take on abstraction with confident canvases that leave space and air for the viewer to enter. Those lucky enough to attend opening night were treated to a fortune-telling performance by NY-based, Lebanese-born Annabel Daou (through March 29) %26hellip; Happy first birthday to Laura Rathe Fine Art, which mounts an anniversary show that plays homage to its stable. Best bests in the LRFA lineup: Cecil Touchon%26rsquo;s studies in blue (so Yves Klein), Meredith Pardue%26rsquo;s nature-based abstraction, global lensman/image-maker Steve McCurry (of Afghan Girl renown) and the always transcendental portal paintings of McKay Otto (through March 29).

Road Trip: Over at Red Arrow Contemporary, Apophenia Underground%26rsquo;s Justin Ginsberg and Jeff Gibbons undertook a grand Kerouac-worthy 13,000-mile car adventure last summer, with the siren call of the open road and the desire to loosen up the art world. (After all, this is the duo that launched the deeply satisfying Deep Ellum Windows project, still going strong this spring.) See the video and other odd ephemera from the new creators of the Dallas avant-garde (through March 29).

Come On Down: I%26rsquo;m always amazed there isn%26rsquo;t more cross-pollination in the Texas art world. Houstonians, of course, never miss the Dallas Art Fair and the f%26ecirc;tes and exhibitions that surround the occasion %26mdash; including, this year, Schnabel and Phillips at the Dallas Contemporary. Consider yourself invited to partake of Magritte at The Menil Collection, with double exhibitions showcasing the artist%26rsquo;s early and late work (through June 1), and bask in cubist pioneer Georges Braque%26rsquo;s retrospective, organized by the Pompidou, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (through May 11). And while you%26rsquo;re here, don%26rsquo;t miss the inimitable FotoFest, America%26rsquo;s foremost photographic convergence, and the first-ever presentation in the U.S. of contemporary photography from the Arab world (March 15 %26shy;%26ndash;%26nbsp;April 27).

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