THE DAVID SHELTON GALLERY usually doesn't come up when people list off the Museum District's must-sees. Nestled a few doors down from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the gallery offers a quieter, more focused experience than some of its flashier peers. The private gallery is mostly frequented by the art community—patrons, artists and art students—although it is trying to become more accessible to the public. While it has yet to achieve this, the cooperative, lively nature of its latest two-person exhibit, “Walking to Work” by Brooklyn-based artists Austin Eddy and Benjamin Edmiston, is encouraging.

Eddy and Edmiston wanted to collaborate under one cohesive vision while still maintaining their individual styles. The exhibit reflects this give-and-take between the two as the space alternates between their personalities, exchanging ideas.

Like the Frank O’Hara poem “Walking to Work” that inspired Eddy and Edmiston, the exhibition displays lightness and darkness through different materials and textures. Just as O’Hara carefully formats his poem to create meaning, Eddy and Edmiston purposefully position their artwork around the main floor.

Walking through the entrance, the black and white, geometric style of Ben Edmiston presents rows of small, black symbols that seem like modern hieroglyphs. And when you turn the corner, this is in stark contrast to Eddy’s brightly colored, textured piece that bursts from the canvas. But what really catches my eye are Eddy’s 3-D “creatures” decorated with wooden balls, frayed rope, pins and light bulbs— the softly glowing light and shiny surface make me want to reach out and touch it.

It seems like Edmiston and Eddy are trying to interact with their audience. A canvas has been mounted exposing the back, where a shoeprint and messy, scrawled writing are visible. While other exhibits might hide these traits, this exhibition doesn’t shy away from displaying the untidiness of the creative process. Instead, you are encouraged to find the imperfection. At a distance, Edmiston’s “Zag” seems straightforward: zig-zags on top of a grid of black and white squares; however, a closer look reveals a dark background and smudges that dirty the seemingly pristine white and bright colors that bleed from the black lines. 

I had expected the exhibition to be too stuffy and high-brow, but the art itself is inviting. To me, the diversity and playfulness of “Walking to Work” make it feel inclusive—it’s as if you’ve walked in on a discussion between Eddy and Edmiston, and they’ve turned to ask for your opinion. My recommendation? Give yourself an opportunity to respond.

Thru August 19. 4411 Montrose Blvd., Suite B. 713-393-7319. More info at davidsheltongallery.com.

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