Art Notes

Austrian Blooms and Arctic Climes: Museum must-sees include the early-20th-century color imagery of Austrian pictorialist Heinrich K%26uuml;hn at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston %26mdash; the only American venue for this extraordinary exhibition organized by Vienna%26rsquo;s Albertina (through May 30) ... At The Menil Collection, %26ldquo;Upside Down: Arctic Realities%26rdquo; contrasts Arctic artifacts, circa 1000 BC to 1400 AD, with an exciting environment crafted by California %26ldquo;Light and Space%26rdquo; man Doug Wheeler. Edmund Carpenter, a scholar of this remote region (and husband of Adelaide de Menil) organizes this intriguing exhibition (April 15 %26ndash; July 17).

Flower Power: Two masters of saying the max with the minimal arrive. Donald Sultan%26rsquo;s handsome economy empowers fruit and blossoms at Meredith Long %26amp; Company (through April), while Donald Baechler%26rsquo;s show at McClain Gallery presents towering images of flowers alongside heroic sculpture (through April 30).

Graphite King, Mister Mapplethorpe: %26ldquo;Blood Poisoning%26rdquo; at Moody Gallery spotlights Michael Bise%26rsquo;s obsessive epic graphites, which delve into third-grade memories (through April 23) ... At Texas Gallery, Robert Mapplethorpe%26rsquo;s incomparable photographs from the 1970s and %26rsquo;80s, curated by Klaus Kertess, range from nudes (Patti Smith makes a cameo) to blooms (through April 24). While you%26rsquo;re there, check out the book Freds and Ians, conceived by Nancy Douthey, in which costumed and wigged pals (from Lynn Wyatt to fellow gallerist Barbara Davis) pose as gallery owners Fredericka Hunter and/or Ian Glennie for lensmen Thomas DuBrock and Michael Brims. Brilliant!

Tripping the Light Fantastic: Regine Schumann, German mistress of Plexiglas and light, solos at Gallery Sonja Roesch. Her immersive black-light environment also involves a knitted floor piece (April 2 %26ndash; May 7) ... Charlotte Smith presents her latest hyper-surfaced canvases at Anya Tish Gallery (through April) ... Monochrome master painters Joseph Marioni and Peter Tollens share the limelight at Wade Wilson Art (April 1 %26ndash; May 28) ... Sculptress Tara Conley makes word play at Laura Rathe Fine Art (through April 23).%26nbsp;

Change Is in the Air: Blaffer Museum of Art gets a redux to go along with its new name. Excitement swirls around innovative NYC firm WORK Architecture Company, which will enhance the courtyard and design a new entrance and cafe space. Construction begins this summer, with the building to reopen in January 2012 ... Watch this column for the latest about a new gallery for Devin Borden (formerly of Hiram Borden Devin Borden Gallery). The biz partners have amicably dissolved their relationship, with Hiram Butler to remain in his West End Space; Borden promises to open his new endeavor by September 15. Also expect news of a project for Scott Peveto, most recently with McClain Gallery. And kudos to McClain%26rsquo;s Erin Siudzinski, who has just been promoted to assistant director. She and her beau, McClain artist Kent Dorn, are among our fave art couples%26nbsp; ... Artist and rising curator Jennifer Ash has left Anya Tish Gallery to head to Art League Houston, where she oversees exhibitions and directs press operations %26hellip; Watch on these pages for news from Sicardi Gallery.

Fair Thee Well: Calling all collectors: Dallas Art Fair year three unfurls April 8 through 10 in the Dallas Arts District, at the handsome modernist Fashion Industry Gallery. (We%26rsquo;ll meet you by the shimmering Robert Indiana Hope sculpture in the Colton %26amp; Farb booth.) Come fall, Houston gets not one but two art fairs. The Houston Fine Art Fair, presented by Rick Friedman%26rsquo;s Hamptons Expo Group, takes place September 16 through 18 at the George R. Brown Convention Center; opening night on September 15 will benefit the MFAH%26rsquo;s Glassell School of Art Core Program. Then in October, Forum Gallery scion Max Fishko arrives with another fair, again at the George R. Brown. Texas is hot on the fair circuit!%26nbsp;

Overseas: Glassell Junior School of Art instructor Heidi Celeghin exhibits her sailing-inspired drawings, bearing text and painting, in the Barcelona World Race Awards Ceremony Gallery (through April); she collaborated with skippers Ryan Breymaier and Boris Herrmann, who captain craft in the 90-day nonstop maritime race ...%26nbsp; Iconic Nestor Topchy%26rsquo;s (of Templo Zocolo fame), whose recent endeavors%26nbsp; tap his Ukrainian heritage via icon making and Easter egg painting, just soloed at the Ivan Honchar Museum in Kiev, which is dedicated to preserving Ukrainian culture.

Art Hearts Design: Esteemed lensman Greg Gorman is highlighted in an expansive exhibition at Decorative Center Houston. %26ldquo;A Distinct Vision%26rdquo; encompasses four decades of his considerable career. More than 200 images are presented, with focus on celebrity portraiture. (F-)stop by to see likeness from Johnny Depp to Keanu Reeves (April 27 %26ndash; June 3, with a book signing of Gorman%26rsquo;s latest, In Their Youth, on Thursday, April 28, 2 pm).

Public Art%26rsquo;s A-Poppin%26rsquo;: Our town now boasts a plentitude of Plensas %26mdash; works by Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa (one of the main attractions at Chicago%26rsquo;s Millennium Park), to be precise. A suite of seven seated stainless-steel figures evoking Buddhas now serenely perches along the banks of Buffalo Bayou adjoining the new Harmony Walk bridge, which spans Memorial Drive east of Studemont towards Allen Parkway. Houston Arts Alliance and Greater Houston Community Foundation spearheaded the project, while private patrons led by His Highness the Aga Khan and benefactress Mica Mosbacher contributed key support. More public art is in the works %26mdash;%26nbsp;stay tuned for details about the soon-to-be-completed new permitting center for the City of Houston, decked out in important commissions. This HAA endeavor is overseen by collaborator and installation/performance artist Mary Margaret Hansen, who%26rsquo;s tapped an extraordinary multi-generational stable, including the late, larger-than-life Houston painter Dick Wray ... We%26rsquo;ll also bring you the latest on the extraordinary James Turrell Skyspace planned for Rice University. As you read this page, ground-breaking occurs on the Suzanne Deal Booth Pavilion, named in honor of the munificent alum funding the reportedly $6 million commission. Word%26rsquo;s out the skyspace possesses a musical component and will be used for Shepherd School performances.

Image above: Michael Bise%26rsquo;s Children (detail), 2011, at Moody Gallery. Photo courtesy of the artist and Moody Gallery.
Image below: Jaume Plensa%26rsquo;s Tolerance. Photo courtesy Houston Arts Alliance.

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