Thursday, February 14, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 93



Art shows and exhibits remain diverse 
in Houston

By Shweta Rao
Daily Cougar Staff

Art museums may evoke different kinds of reactions among people from various walks of life. There are the art lovers who could gaze at and enjoy any piece of art without even batting an eyelid, and there are the visitors who just waltz into an art museum to pass some of their time, even though they may not know what to expect.

Whatever the case and whoever the person, an art museum always has something in store for everyone something to catch the attention of the viewers indubitably.

Take the example of the Menil Collection, located at 1515 Sul Ross St. in Houston. The impressive building houses a vast and unique collection of contemporary art and pieces from antiquity.

John and Dominique de Menil established this stunning museum in 1987 to exhibit their expansive and eclectic collection of fine art. The Menil compound also includes the Cy Twombly Gallery, the Rothko Chapel, the Menil Collection Bookstore (where you can buy just about any art book, posters of past exhibits, funky-cool postcards and toys galore) and the Byzantine Fresco Chapel.

The museum features a handful of special exhibits each year. Recent exhibits include a vibrating living room that you can rearrange yourself, a blinding display of neon art and an extensive exploration of the friendship and working relationship between Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Cornell, which includes such minutiae as 50-year-old Christmas cards.

The paintings of Vik Muniz will be on display at the Menil from Feb. 22 to June 2.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, located at 5100 Montrose Blvd., has a rich collection from world cultures, past and present. This building holds works by countless artists and artisans, famous and local.

One can spend hours in these hallowed halls, enjoying cherished impressionist paintings by masters such as Paul Signac and Claude Monet, African and 20th-century sculpture, textiles and costumes, ancient arts and the decorative arts collection.

Among this unique collection is an Ettore Sottsass room divider, all angles and splashy colors, that is not only a startling piece of eye candy but also tickles the imagination. In addition to this panoply of artistic riches, the MFAH offers several intriguing film series each year, with special emphasis on films from cultures that are ignored by the Hollywood machine.

A reflective exploration of the MFAH's 25-year love affair with collecting photographs, one exhibit showcases 75 pictures, one for each year, from artists such as Ansel Adams and László Moholy-Nagy. Other than Adams and Moholy-Nagy, Hannah Höch, André Kertesz and Paul Strand are also represented.

The MFAH showcases a vibrant collection of black-and-white photographs of Houston's Third Ward by some of its youngest visionaries. For several years, Jack Yates High School photography students have spent their school years creating a collective portfolio of their community.

The MFAH then reviews the submissions to select photos for the "Eye on Third Ward" exhibition, touring local and state public venues. It introduces students to the museums and encourages them to capture life in their neighborhood with photography.

Another engrossing museum is the Contemporary Arts Museum, 5216 Montrose Blvd. There's no telling what waits around each corner at this exciting and eclectic museum.

Inward Eye: Transcendence in Contemporary Art is on display until Feb. 17. It features thought-provoking and impressive paintings and drawings.

On campus is UH's very own Blaffer Gallery. The gallery's focus is on student shows, but it supplements its season (the UH school year) with a few major exhibits each year.

The gallery offers three types of guided tours, led by UH and Texas Southern University art students. One tour features the exhibition on view and encourages discussions and interpretations of the artwork.

A public art/sculpture tour is a walking tour of the UH's sculpture collection, which is scattered across the campus. A third tour allows participants to take time sketching or writing in the gallery.

Currently on display are the works of Puerto Rican artists.

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