Road trip

Houston lies at the widening crossroads of contemporary art

The downstairs galleries of the MFAH hold his most current work--his photo-transfers and silk-screens on gigantic brass panels. Upstairs you'll find his notoriously difficult and exhilarating quarter-mile-long piece snaking along the walls, consisting of mysterious timeline structures starring, among others, JFK, the space shuttle, cardboard boxes, a wheelbarrow of growing cactus, and even an old snow sled encased in Plexiglas. Across the street, the CAM showcases his older and interactive works--his radio-transmitting oracles and remote-controlled, spinning glass discs, and photos and films of his early performance pieces, as well as a truly awesome bed of mud. As big as a back-yard swimming pool, it spits and wiggles and vibrates its pabulum goo in a playful, scary way. Get too close and it may vomit on you, but you have to lean in to fully enjoy its gurgling noises and glistening nuances.

While no contemporary art genre can claim Rauschenberg as its own, every genre can claim Rauschenberg as its favorite godfather, and taken together, Ultralounge and the Rauschenberg retrospective make Houston the current hotspot for a solid cross-section of contemporary art. Since this is its last weekend, anyone hoping to view the retrospective had better hurry. And don't forget to get your oil changed and your freon checked--and pack some insect repellant. After all, we're talkin' Houston here.

Ultralounge is at DiverseWorks through June 20; (713) 223-8346. Rauschenberg: A Retrospective is at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, (713) 639-7300; the Contemporary Arts Museum (713) 284-8250; the Menil Collection (713) 525-9400 through May 17. Jack and Yek is at Angstrom Gallery, Dallas, through May 30. (214)-823-6456.

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