Capsule Reviews

Our critics survey the local art scene

Photographs of Texas by Allison V. Smith Smith makes pretty, slightly out-of-kilter photographs of West Texas' meagerly urban landscape. Taken while on a brief sojourn in Marfa last fall, the sometimes brightly colored and always compositional images of Smith betray a photojournalist segueing into the realm of art photography. And arty they are. With electric light bristling against twilight, shadow rubbing up next to storm-puddle reflections, "Side Street" is Magritte without the intellectual high jinks. Smith's photographs seem like a catalog of quotations with none of the conceptual punch of the people she quotes. Aptly titled "Birds on a Wire," Smith's shot of birds on an overhead wire brings to mind Hitchcock without any of the horror or conflict. The blue paint on the wall of "Sandy's" conspires with the blue color of the roof to make a composition reminiscent of some of William Eggleston's best work--but without any of the perky everyday perversity. Maybe this should be a show on the "without"--appropriations without much invention--of a photographer transitioning from journalism to something else. Through May 29 at Barry Whistler Gallery, 2909-B Canton St., 214-939-0242.

Turner and Venice If you love the city in idea and form, then this exhibition of work by the 19th-century painter J.M.W. Turner is a must. Turner's scintillating views of Venice do more than tickle the eye. These urban vistas transport you back in time to an earlier chapter in the history of abstraction within painting. With a total of 33 oil paintings and some 128 works on paper, it's a vast showing of one old master's obsession with the miracles of a city built on water. The careful splash and daub of his brushstroke can be mind-boggling, but Turner's watercolors might very well steal the show. Through May 30 at the Kimbell Art Museum, 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd., Metro 817-654-1034. Reviewed April 1.

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