Sharon Engelstien at Devin Borden Gallery.

Houston’s in “so much art, viagra so little time” mode as galleries wrap up their spring seasons with a flurry of strong shows. Make sure you include these stops on your June art-hopping itinerary.

Table Top.

If this group show of diminutive sculptures had cheeks, troche you’d want to pinch them.  Even the title is adorable. But the works here outperform their perceived cuteness. Nicholas Kersulis applies countless layers of black gesso to found stones, ailment letting the shape of each rock’s surface guide his brushstrokes. Adding to the works’ obsessive quality, they’re placed exactly where they were on the table when Kersulis made them and are oriented the same direction. He insists they be sold as a set.

Sharon Engelstein’s organic, bulbous forms were created using an elaborate 3-D printing process. Like rings on a tree, they bear the evidence of their history. Darryl Lauster, Matt Messinger, and Kaneem Smith round out a solid mix of work, adding motorized motion, found-object assemblage, and a deep engagement with loaded materials, respectively to the range of approaches sampled.  Through June 10 at Devin Borden Gallery.

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William Betts: Recognition On View May 12, 2012 – Jun 23, 2012.

William Betts: Recognition.

The Houston painter fills McClain Gallery’s two back bays with a selection of paintings that use video surveillance screenshots as source material. A digital-age Seurat, Betts echoes the stills’ pixelated quality using software that plots thousands of dots to each canvas, which from a distance looks black-and-white, but on closer examination turns out to be made up of pastel colors. Crowd scenes engage in testy dialogue with shots that zoom in on individuals, adding another layer of unease. Through June 23 at McClain Gallery.

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Dirk Rathk: Endearing the Line.

Dirk Rathk: Endearing the Line.

In his third solo show at Gallery Sonja Roesch, Rathke, a Berlin-based artist, wrings maximal eloquence from a minimal vocabulary. Whether creating shaped, monochromatic canvases or a mind-binding orange-tape room drawing of two folded, overlapping squares that extends from floor to wall to ceiling and back again, Rathke straddles dimensions and seeks the perfect fusion of line, color, and shape – and finds it. Through June 30 at Gallery Sonja Roesch.

Ellan Phelan, Field Through Trees, 2009. Oil on linen 60 X 40″.

Ellen Phelan: Landscapes and a Still Life.

Working from Kodachrome slide projections, Phelan, a New York painter, envelops landscapes in a hazy fog that may appear, at first glance, to express nostalgia. In fact, they’re the result of risks the artist takes in order to keep surprising herself. “You know, it’s sort of daring because you work-work-work to get the image and then you say, ‘All right, goodbye image. Let’s see what happens next,’” Phelan told The Brooklyn Rail in 2009. That may explain the sometimes radioactive turn her palette takes. Phelan’s past as an abstractionist serves these paintings well: Dark Woods is what would happen if you crossed one of Whistler’s best Nocturnes with one of the “multiforms” of the mid-to-late 1940s that preceded Rothko’s breakthrough into his classic floating-rectangles format. Through June 30 at Texas Gallery.

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