From the art of paper to the most fantastic monuments of imagination, this month ushers in an early summer’s worth of new visual art exhibitions.
Look for several large-scale, immersive installations to explore this May. Plus, the city celebrates all those garage and highway artists across the world who take their creativity out on their cars — as art cars come home to the Orange Show for a parade alternative.
“The Mountain That Does Not Describe a Circle” at Asia Society Texas (now through July 25)
This new exhibition from Houston-based artist Hong Hong featuring large-scale works on, and of, paper asks viewers to contemplate paper in new ways.
The show highlights the material structure and surfaces of paper, its function, and its ability to communicate a broad range of information.
Hong creates her own paper for her work, cooking and then beating by hand the inner bark harvested from mulberry trees.
Describing her process, the Asia Society notes “with the addition of fiber-reactive dyes and water, a pulp is created which she pours into an immense single sheet outside under the open sky, adding successive layers as she circumambulates the horizontal frame.”
“Full Metal Jaschke” at Mid Main Houston Gallery (now through September 2)
Celebrate the Art Car Parade and Houston’s art car heritage all summer with this debut exhibition by local photography favorite Emily Jaschke. The show puts a flash on that Keep-Houston-Weird spirit of the Art Car Parade and Orange Show as well as the artistic nonprofit sector.
Jaschke states that the works in the exhibition are her way of honoring Houston Art Car Parade’s mission while amplifying its community impact.
“Houston Abstraction” at Houston Museum of African American Culture (now through July 3)
A new exhibition of award-winning abstract artist Dan Houston’s work highlights his marrying of abstract images and bold and contracting colors, a trademark of Houston. An immense curiosity about space and time and love of jazz has led Houston to try to capture these abstractions of science plus music into color forms.
“Sensation Code” at Barbara Davis Gallery (now through June 26)
Trinidad-born artist Nicole Awai’s multimedia works delve into her sense of identity and place, creating dimensional creations that reference Caribbean and American terrains, architecture, and the domestic sphere.
She uses “sensation codes” encouraging the viewer to read the work like a map. The evolution of this naming process became a way to map the cultural and ethnographic progression of our 21st century urban evolution.
“Nurture” at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (May 13-August 31)
Artists Preston Gaines and Mich Stevenson collaborated on this living immersive installation, melding sound, bespoke furniture, and tapestry installations — and a dense array of tropical plants — to create a space of peace and contemplation.
Visitors can enter this nurturing work for moments of reflection and respite during what will likely be our usual hot, bright summer. Gaines and Stevenson created the installation as part of the CMAH’s CAMHLAB program, an ongoing artist-in-residence initiative that gives the Museum to artists.
Art Car Experience at the Orange Show (May 14-16)
The pandemic might have caused the cancellation of the traditional Art Car Parade this year, but in keeping with their founding spirit, the Orange Show delivers a unique way of carrying on the art car celebration.
The vibrant cars will park while art-lovers parade around them to get an up close look at the most outrageous and fun art on four wheels (and occasionally two, three, eight, and beyond).
The evening events have sold out but the there’s still day tickets where we can wander the maze of 80 classic and brand new art cars on the Orange Show’s five-acre campus. Enhance the experience with the smartphone digital audio/visual tour.
“Dream Monuments: Drawing in the 1960s and 1970s” at Menil Drawing Institute (May 21–September 19)
We might think of monuments as grand, permanent statues, but this new exhibition defies that notion to give us a perspective on monuments. In a two-dimensional space, artists can paradoxically dream bigger, physics and nature can be ignored, and imagination can reign supreme.
The exhibition will include works from artists Alice Aycock, Beverly Buchanan, Barbara Chase, Riboud, Mel Chin, Christo, Walter De Maria, Agnes Denes, Mary Beth Edelson, Jackie Ferrara, Gray Foy, Michael Heizer, Will Insley, Richard Long, Marta Minujin, Robert Morris, Claes Oldenburg, Dennis Oppenheim, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Smithson, and Michelle Stuarbe. Pieces will be organized into thematic sections that trace the ways in which artists developed studies, proposals, and drawings conceived for the page alone.
“Ernesto Neto: SunForceOceanLife” at Museum of Fine Arts (May 30-September 26)
For almost a decade, the MFAH has brought in a new mammoth immersive artwork as an annual summertime treat for Houston. After a COVID year break, the museum brings back the tradition with this commissioned work from renowned Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto.
This largest crochet works to date by Neto consists of yellow, orange, and green materials hand-woven into a myriad of patterns and sewn together in a spiral formation. Looking something like a massive crocheted bridge suspended over Cullen Hall, art doesn’t get much more immersive than this.
Museum-goers will enter the work and wander through different sections filled with soft, plastic balls underfoot that move with each step.