It makes sense that studies of humanity, death and beauty are on the menu this month, what with the vivid forces of life in Austin crawling out from under the sweaty thumb of another wearisome summer.
September days in our city are some of the best days, if we’re lucky, so get out of the house and celebrate the waning heat with a full meal of challenging ideas and pleasing shapes.
grayDUCK Gallery, through September 14
Local artist and curator Michael Anthony Garcia takes on duality and dichotomy in this series of drawings, screenprints and found-object installations that stand as bloodless fossils of our oddly civilized biology. Inspired by the genetic chimaera, wherein tissues of distinct origins unite in a single creature, Garcia’s organisms of furniture and cloth examine the intersection of corporeal and societal influences — that tension of the rude underlying the refined — that creates the human experience. There's only about a week left on this one, don’t miss out.
Beyond Beauty: More Than Meets the Eye
Russell Collection Fine Art, through September 27
The respective works of Austin painter Ash Almonte and Tennessee sculptor John Petrey may seem on the surface to have little in common, but subtle elements beneath the surface of their joint exhibition harmonize and resonate. Petrey’s stunning renderings of classical dresses as high-fashion body armor in scrap metal and plastic sit in comfortable concord with the kinetic still-lifes and prismatic chandelier paintings of Almonte, which would seem equally at home hanging by the window in a quiet drawing room or sprayed on the chipped cement of a subway wall.
Tracey Harris: All in a Days’ Work
Wally Workman Gallery, through September 27
Oklahoma native Harris is a world-traveling veteran oil painter who found a powerful voice in representationalism after concentrating her talents in the abstract for nearly 15 years. Her pieces up at Wally Workman this month draw on central themes of her oeuvre — books, tools, domestic objects, the female torso — to expose, chide and challenge the normative behaviors of gender and mental health in polite society. Opening reception on September 6, from 6 in the evening until 8.
Death Came to Texas: New Paintings by Mike Egan
Yard Dog Gallery, through October 12
Painter Mike Egan has more than a passing acquaintance with death as a graduate from The Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science who vacuumed the very fluids from the dead as a professional embalmer. The bold lines and stripped-down shapes of his symbolic vocabulary may be less sentimental than the cheek and lip work he once did to the dearly departed relatives of Pennsylvania strangers, but his powerful, simple imagery with a sting of black humor promises to take hold of your attention all the same.
Face Value: Leon Alesi, Scott David Gordon, Lesley Nowlin and Jamie Panzer
Davis Gallery and Framing, through October 18
A multivariate meditation on identity manifests at this eclectic show, featuring four Austin-based artists with four distinctive approaches to capturing the human face and form in a still image. Stop in for Alesi’s cinematic take on traditional portraiture, panoramist Gordon’s arresting multiplicity, Nowlin’s study of twinhood in soft chiaroscuro, and Panzer’s collage composites that uncover faces in layers of fragments. Opening reception on September 6, from 7 pm to 9 pm, and a meet-and-greet with the artists on October 1.