Though it may still be hot and steamy outside, the fall exhibition season is almost upon us. The next several weekends in Houston look to be busy, busy with much-anticipated solo shows, blockbuster group exhibitions, and galas galore. Lawndale Art Center is ahead of the curve and has already opened four solo shows that will be up until September 29. This weekend would be a good time to go see them before the post-Labor Day rush of openings begins.
Houston-based artist Lillian Warren debuts a new series in the front gallery of nearly life-size figures staring into space or at their cell phones, waiting for some unknown event. The disengaged malaise of people floating in white space, apathetic with no exit, makes these portraits one of Warren’s most compelling series. Her pale acrylics pooling on vellum are perfectly suited to the subject as the colors themselves seem to loiter on the surface.
The scent of Paolo Piscitelli’s cedar planks in the main gallery wafts through the entire first floor, enticing one to enter his installation. Unfortunately his sculptures are not as seductive visually are they are olfactorily. The most interesting part of his exhibition is a video of the artist’s hands working in clay, which is bifurcated and distorted into abstract images that seem part-rorschach, part-vaginal. The mix of content, form, and symbol in the video makes a potent brew.
The mezzanine above has beautiful, almost decadent monochromatic drawings by Oklahoma-based Angela Piehl. Her brooch-like still lifes of organic materials are beautifully rendered and have so much character that they seem like allegories for personalities. The groupings of drawings even form sort of friendships amongst clusters of works. There are not many artists who do work like this in Houston, so her voice is an interesting one to throw in the mix here.
It’s well worth the hike up the stairs to the project space to see Candace Hicks’s Compositions. Her play with the form of the composition notebook is diverse and includes a series of prints that find different forms in the splotches on the notebook cover, sewn reproductions of books with the artist’s notes, and a giant open book on the wall that reproduces her written notes and marginal sketches in stitches on cloth pages. Her large book on string theory is a highlight as it contains notes on theories of multiple dimensions, for which her sewn books could be a metaphor.