Capsule Art Reviews: "Cocomirle: A Visual and Sound Environment by Adela Andea," "The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia; A New Beginning," "Halls without walls, room to feel in. The door awaits you, your return within." "Maurice," "No Paint," "Sal

"Cocomirle: A Visual and Sound Environment by Adela Andea" Houston artist Adela Andea's light installations and sculptures are true crowd-pleasers, captivating artists at galleries, art fairs and, last winter, Art League Houston's outdoor garden-turned-bio-electronic environment, "Primordial Garden." The Romania-born artist returns to the Montrose art space — this time indoors — for the site-specific installation "Cocomirle." Andea's work has been described in the past by this paper as akin to an "Eastern European disco — in a good way." As if taking that dynamic to its logical conclusion, in her latest light show, Andea brings music to the disco, too, thanks to a collaboration with experimental sound group CHIN XAOU TI WON. In "Cocomirle," at least six electronic keyboards are suspended in the air in Art League's main gallery. They're joined by a web of lit rods, jumbled wires, energy-efficient lightbulbs and flashing lights that give the room an '80s dance-party vibe. While the multiple instruments aren't being used in the installation's normal state, there is music, courtesy of four screens scattered about the space. It's difficult to watch the film, much of which is composed of negative images — that backwards, black-and-white quality — but mostly it provides the soundtrack to the experience. At times it has an ambient melody, at others it's more ominous, and, given all the keyboards, is largely synth. In the center of this disco party is a deliberate music station; keyboards, amps and chairs are set up as if for a performance. But given their lack of use, these pieces may as well be hanging from the ceiling, too. As if they're all dressed up with nowhere to go, this central aspect makes it appear the installation is empty or missing a key element. It's a little jarring, as if you came for a concert and nobody was there, but the instruments were still out and the lights had been left on. Through June 21. 1953 Montrose, 713-523-9530. —MD

"The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia; A New Beginning" In Tehran, more than a million people viewed it; at the Smithsonian Institution, there was timed ticketing. While worlds apart, all these people came to see a clay object no larger than a football. Despite its unassuming size and material, the Cyrus Cylinder is no ordinary object. It is one of the most iconic items in the British Museum's collection — an artifact from 6th century BC Babylon inscribed with the earliest form of writing that is often referred to as the first declaration of human rights. A five-city tour of the United States currently brings the famed object to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in what's a must-see attraction for anyone interested in ancient history, ancient Persian cultural artifacts, archeology and even religious tolerance. The Cylinder is an incredible object thanks to the text inscribed on it in Babylonian cuneiform. After capturing Babylon (modern-day Iraq) in 539 BC, Persian King Cyrus the Great allowed deported people to return to their homeland. The people in question were likely to be Jews expelled by the previous ruler of Babylon, and indeed the Hebrew Bible praises Cyrus for this incredible act of freedom of worship. Since being discovered during a British Museum excavation in 1879, the Cyrus Cylinder has become a symbol of tolerance the world over. It even has its own replica at the United Nations. In addition to the Cylinder, the modest exhibition also features a little more than a dozen objects that demonstrate innovation and cultural advancement in the Persian Empire. These include a new writing system (Old Persian cuneiform), carved seals, currency, and luxury goods like gold armlets and gold and silver bowls. Ironically, for all that gold, one of the most important pieces in the exhibition is one of the least valuable as far as materials go. The Cyrus Cylinder is just made of clay, but it has the greatest weight. Through June 14. 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7300. —MD

"Halls without walls, room to feel in. The door awaits you, your return within." Abhidnya Ghuge works with the most common and disposable of materials — paper plates. Their abundance comes in handy, though. In her site-specific installations, the artist employs them by the thousands to create unusual forms that snake organically across the room. Her latest installation, poetically yet incomprehensibly titled "Halls without walls, room to feel in. The door awaits you, your return within." takes over the Grace R. Cavnar Gallery at Lawndale Art Center. The somewhat awkwardly shaped room responds well to a work that compels its way through the space, changing how you walk through and forcing you to interact with it. This isn't a flat, unresponsive surface but a dynamic, fleshed-out work with depth; you can see it from all sides and have it completely surround you. With the paper plates folded up into cones and held in place by a wire frame, the flowing form looks like a coral reef out of water. An original wood-block carving is printed on these thousands of paper plates in bright orange, yellow, blue and white colors, further adding to this scaly, reef effect. Upon closer inspection, the wood block design is less coral-inspired and more henna — a nod to the Tyler, Texas-based artist's Indian origins. It's a highly unusual piece, one that's completely unexpected and oddly pretty. It's best viewed as a whole; up close, it's simply paper plates with prints on them, which isn't so magical. But step back and take it all in, and it becomes something else entirely. Through June 15. 4912 Main, 713-528-5858. — MD

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