Art Notes

The Power of Protest: Among my top pics for exhibition of the year is the extraordinary Donald Moffett show at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, which melds compelling contemporary painting with highly provocative political content. Be sure to investigate the Barbara Jordan piece, which incorporates historical documents with film footage from the Watergate hearings (through January 8) ... While Moffett%26rsquo;s work emits a call to activism, protest is alive and well, especially in our town. Gay marriage, one of the most pressing civil-rights issues of our time, swirls around the work The Art Guys Marry a Plant, produced for the CAMH%26rsquo;s%26nbsp; %26ldquo;No Zoning%26rdquo; show in 2009. We reported on the performance piece at the time, placing it on our cover, perceiving it then as a call against right-wingers and also a paean to Mother Nature. What we assumed had one meaning at the CAMH now takes on another as the oak in question is donated to The Menil Collection, one of our hallowed institutions, and one which stands for justice and human rights. Contributing his voice and an important performance act is Chronicle art critic Douglas Britt, who married a woman at a Montrose strip bar last month in Art Gay Marries a Woman %26mdash; a work (and actual wedding) that drew some of the main members of our art community, including museum directors, gallerists, artists and staff from nonprofits, as well as yours truly. Most affecting were the vows%26rsquo; call to equality, as well as the bouquet: a paper-airplane multiple by Dario Robleto. How do we weigh in? The Art Guys are some of the most beloved beacons of our scene; however, we might propose that their living sculpture take its place temporarily in one of the city parks that lost trees during the drought; then it could be returned to the Menil grounds once marriage rights are granted to all, with a plaque commemorating that occasion. Meanwhile, let curator Toby Kamps convene with The Art Guys to donate another work to the museum %26mdash; one that relates to the duo%26rsquo;s stance as leading contemporary proponents of the fluxus movement ... Speaking of activism, I%26rsquo;m clearing my holiday schedule to catch international Russian artist Andrei Molodkin in %26ldquo;Crude%26rdquo; at the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, the show that everyone is buzzing about for its forceful stance on oil and global politics (through February 12).

Art and the Streets: You read it here first %26mdash; James Surls, the founder of Lawndale Art Center, who launched our modern scene as we know it, has been tapped to create a monumental sculpture for the Upper Kirby Drive cityscape. To be placed on the esplanade facing West Ave and 2727 Kirby, the epic steel and bronze is considered by Surls to be his magnum opus. Stay tuned: Completion date for the high-six-figure, public and privately funded permanent commission %26mdash; which at 20-some feet tall makes a towering exclamation point%26nbsp; %26mdash; will be late 2012 (or early 2013).%26nbsp;%26nbsp;

Shop the Art: Turn to our Gift Guide for some of our hot art picks, page 33. Here are some more suggestions: Goldesberry Gallery%26rsquo;s jewelry and metal arts invitational (December 3 %26ndash; January 7); Richard Moiel and Kathy Poeppel%26rsquo;s Houston Studio Glass Open House December 3 and 4 (; and Carolyn Farb%26rsquo;s charming children%26rsquo;s volume, Lucas Comes to America ( ... We%26rsquo;re also utterly mad for Houston painter Daniel McFarlane%26rsquo;s way with pigment, glitter and wood %26mdash;fresh, exciting, original (Barbara Davis Gallery, December 9 %26ndash; January 6).

Show Up: Be there for Michael Bise, one of the most gifted guys with graphite, whose autobiographical drawings say much about America. Bise, an adjunct painting professor at the University of Houston and one of the rising stars of Moody Gallery%26rsquo;s stable, is on the waiting list for a heart transplant at Methodist Hospital, so family and friends have pitched in for a series of fund-raisers to help pay for the procedure and his recovery. The first takes place Sunday, December 11, at Boom Boom Room, with a benefit concert headlined by The Cleaners (info Please show your support and donate! See you in 2012, and may your holidays be artful.

Images: James Surls%26rsquo; Tree and Three Flowers, coming 2012 %26ndash; 2013 to Kirby Drive. Photo courtesy Ken Frederick and Jimmy Hemphill.

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