Left: 2, Benjamin Terry. Right: Selena, Maxim Wakultschik.

Great art is more than just something to hang over the sofa (though that works too). It can soothe the soul, stoke the fires, or call attention to injustice. This Friday, September 7, the five galleries at 4411 Montrose are launching new exhibits that tick off all those boxes, and just might make viewers a bit uncomfortable to boot. The fun starts at 6 p.m.

Dream Baby Dream, Vincent Valdez

"Vincent Valdez: Dream Baby Dream"

Vincent Valdez left us dumbstruck two years ago with his massive panoramic mural of the Ku Klux Klan assembling on a hilltop; clearly it was a family affair with next gen haters in training. That piece, titled The City II, was later acquired by Austin's Blanton Museum of Art but not without its share of controversy. Valdez’s stock rose even further when we learned that Cheech Marin, an avid collector of Chicano art, is a fan of his work. Valdez is returning to David Shelton Gallery with “Dream Baby Dream,” this time drawing inspiration from the celeb-packed funeral of heavyweight boxer and civil rights activist Muhammad Ali. It was the power of that service that brought together folks who normally wouldn’t be found in the same arena—former President Bill Clinton and Billy Crystal, Bryant Gumbel, and the daughter of Malcolm X—that moved Valdez to capture the emotion and significance of the moment in this series of 12 new oil paintings.

Free. David Shelton Gallery, 4411 Montrose, 713-393-7319, through November 10. More info at davidsheltongallery.com.

The Blue Secret Case, Andrea Bianconi.

"Andrea Bianconi: Breakthrough"

Andrea Bianconi, il Italiano, is returning to Barbara Davis Gallery in “Breakthrough,” a travel-inspired exhibit that sees a return of his iconic arrows and inspired collages in a variety of media. Just don’t miss his opening night performance piece, Ultra, where Bianconi will mutely move about the gallery space in strange interactions with objects until viewers begin to whisper, get antsy, and wonder what it all means. Good stuff.

Free. Barbara Davis Gallery, 4411 Montrose, 713-520-9200, through October 6. More info at barbaradavisgallery.com.

Azar, Maxim Wakultschik.

"Maxim Wakultschik: One Thousand and One"

We won’t go so far as to label Maxim Wakultschik obsessed, but there is a ritualistic aspect to his labored method of assembling thousands of painted wooden sticks into portraits or “carpets.” Mounted on the wall, these densely patterned constructions take on a kinetic aspect as the viewer revolves around the pieces. “One Thousand and One” is his fifth solo show at Anya Tish, and he’ll be on hand at the opener.

Free. Anya Tish Gallery, 4411 Montrose, 713-524-2299, through October 6. More info at anyatishgallery.com.


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"Benjamin Terry: Peanut Butter and Caviar"

Denton artist Benjamin Terry can always be counted on for a touch of whimsy, which he’s serving up on a platter in his new “Peanut Butter and Caviar” exhibit at Guerrero-Projects. Terry’s formula of transforming reclaimed wood into paintings and sculptures that are a little off-kilter is a winning one. Don’t misconstrue his child-like aesthetic; those primary colors and wonky shapes are designed to engage the viewer and tap into universal themes of memory and imagination.

Free. Guerrero-Projects, 4411 Montrose, 713-522-0686, through October 6. More info at guerrero-projects.com.

Erosion, Petra Nováková Ondreičková.

"Petra Nováková Ondreičková: Biotape"

There’s no need for a frowny face when Prague artist Petra Nováková Ondreičková deems an old creation obsolete. Several intentional sharp stabs of her knife and those mentally outlived pieces are born again as new three-dimensional collages. “Biotope” at Cindy Lisica Gallery includes her seemingly angry knife drawings, spatial images, and sculptures that feed on light and shadow.

Free. Cindy Lisica Gallery, 4411 Montrose, 713-807-7760, through October 6. More info at cindylisicagallery.com.

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