Art Notes

The Spaniards are Coming: At the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the greatest glories of the Prado museum %26mdash; a roll call of painters El Greco, Vel%26aacute;zquez, Zurbar%26aacute;n and Goya %26mdash; are currently served up (through March 31) with the revelatory %26ldquo;Picasso Black and White,%26ldquo; opening end of the month. The MFAH is one of only two American venues for the scholarly blockbuster that offers a fresh read of Picasso; the show is organized by the Guggenheim%26rsquo;s Carmen Gim%26eacute;nez, whose ties to the artist begin in her native land: Her family was on the loyalist side during the Spanish Civil War (February 24 %26ndash;May 27).

Stand Up: In an era of the commodification of art and artists, a significant return to content is simultaneously taking place. In that direction, Jennifer Ward organizes a peek into the politics of the border at FotoFest in %26ldquo;Cr%26oacute;nicas,%26rdquo; a searing examination of seven Mexican artists probing the drug war through their lenses. Warning: It%26rsquo;s not for the faint of heart (February 1 %26ndash;%26nbsp;March 9). FYI: the 2014 FotoFest Biennial, themed %26ldquo;Contemporary Arab Photographic Art,%26rdquo; is a mere 13 months away now.

Commerce Hearts Art: At charming Heights retail nook La Camella, you can score small-batch fashion, really cool canvases by UH BFA or MFA grads or dainty jewels by artists Claire Webb, Meredith Schaffer and Rachel Orosco (the latter gals are celebrated in La Camella%26rsquo;s trunk show Wednesday, February 6, 3 to 8 pm).

X Factor: The controversial Devon Britt-Darby (former Chronicle art scribe and a personal frenemy) unrolls his latest, an amalgamation of painting and photography that%26rsquo;s both risqu%26eacute; and topical, at recently minted Avis Frank Gallery in a Tim Gonzalez-curated (slightly X-rated) group view that also includes Alexandre Rosa and Gonzalez%26rsquo;s own work (through February 20).

East Ender to San Antone: Box13 always has something interesting to say, with San Antonio visualists presented in a group t%26ecirc;te-%26agrave;-t%26ecirc;te of import organized by SATX-gallerist Kimberly Aubuchon (through February 16). Speaking of San Antonio, Lawndale artist-in-residence Nancy Douthey%26rsquo;s remix of her performance piece Dinner Party at major Alamo City nonprofit Blue Star last month drew raves for its investigation of diversity vis-%26agrave;-vis the artist%26rsquo;s hypnotic roll in rotting tomatoes and a bed of flour. Douthey%26rsquo;s performance was commissioned for the Houston-San Antonio convergence %26ldquo;Dirty Dozen,%26rdquo; curated by yours truly (through February 16). Stay tuned for more in-depth topics come our annual March art issue. Onward.

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