At Clarke & Associates, the pairing of Felipe Lopez and Lester Marks demonstrates the larger arts culture of Houston: a self-taught artist and a noted collector, both producing works that speak across generations and pedigree to joyfully commune with the viewer.

For his part, Lopez’s creative vision breathes across four separate series of painting, sculpture, and installation bound together by inventive use of netting. As a barrier both ephemeral and material, it visually and physically ties the space together. From the distinctly ecological sensibilities throughout the works, to the thoughtful craft-based touches of handmade fly fishing lures suspended in resin, or the custom-made cotton threads recycled from T-shirts, the intentionality of Lopez’s work is on full display. Tying the progression of four different artistic series into one cohesive show also expresses his intent to expand and grow upon himself. From the physicality of Ambiente Chandelier to the neon exploration within the Space is Only Noise That You Can See series, he is constantly self-referencing to iterate and evolve his craft.

In his curator’s essay, Raphael Rubinstein wisely notes the allure of water so deeply on display in Lopez’s overwhelmingly cool-toned paintings, invoking the shared attraction of artists such as Monet and Turner. The attention to water is wholly appropriate to the show, conveying the flexibility and materiality of a liquid medium translated to aesthetic experience. Speaking with Lopez in the gallery, he stressed the elemental integrity of water, seeing it both as the entry point for life incarnate and also the point of entry for the viewer. He further explained how he takes his motif personally, with a deep love and background of fishing, diving, and making fly lures. Growing up in the northeast and living here along the Gulf, Lopez clearly links his two geographic experiences through his ties to oceans, rivers, and lakes.  

Tucked away in the back of the gallery, the altered, vibrant photography of Lester Marks focuses on the study of light—a preoccupation both artists embody in their art. Harnessing the effects of light as the direct tool of photography, Marks takes macro to the next level in these studies. The texturing and abstraction of the highly colorful, smooth works draw together and express the consideration of pairing these artists. In Marks’s photographs, aptly collected under the title Capturing Dreams: Roticas, Spectrums, and Personages, color is expressed at its most prismatic, with the blurred, indistinguishable edges within each work skewed into patterning and imbued with soft, sensual texture.

In both artists’ works, categories of landscape and portraiture are acknowledged and subsequently cast aside. With Marks, an object is seen and then exploded, dematerializing and re-contextualizing into a visual reverie. Conversely, in Lopez’s paintings, there’s a hint of landscape to the compositions in the series Space is Only Noise That You Can See, but the works have a subverted quality to them, unable to fit in a box—bowing to the parallelogram shape of the canvas, and alternating between recessed and emerging foregrounds. Together, these artists converge nicely into a well-rounded showcase engaging from first sight and evoking a sense of calm connection. Really, it's hard to leave without noticing more nuance and vibrancy in the environment beyond the stark white walls of the gallery.

Felipe Lopez Ambiente Amore and Lester Marks Capturing Dreams: Roticas, Spectrums, and Personages, thru August 24. Clarke & Associates, 301 E 11th St. 713-254-2998. More info at clarkeassoc.com.

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