Picasso Revealed: Before there was Warhol, there was Pablo Picasso, whose talent and international celebrity defined the modern concept of an artist. It doesn’t get any better than this: A brilliantly conceived rethinking of the original grand master’s oeuvre is touching down at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The Guggenheim and the MFAH are the only American venues for this consummate blockbuster, which opens eyes to an entirely new read on the painter/sculptor/provocateur. “Picasso Black and White” summons nearly 100 works from the artist’s prodigious creativity, spanning 1904 to 1970, coaxed from collections near and far, including Picasso family’s special troves. Watch for his rendering of women, from classical and serene to expressionist and, of course, his stunning cubist visages. Other treasures include the unforgettable Head of a Horse, a 1937 sketch for Guernica, as well as a tapestry rendition of the battle that became a rallying cry to end the Spanish Civil War (through May 27).
B&W All Over: Black-and-white is decidedly in the air. Now the tables are turned, as curator Toby Kamps puts his own art to the test, showcasing an ongoing series of photographic images drawn from the street in “99 Cent Dreams” at Sharon Engelstein’s bungalow turned art space Front (1412 Bonnie Brae, March 2 – April 6).
Utterly Utterback: Works by the late Texas artist Robin Utterback always take your breath away. A chameleon of abstraction, this Rice grad’s estate, encompassing canvases from 1974 to 2005, is represented by — and on view at — Meredith Long & Company. Also up this month at the blue-chip gallery: The robust yet lyrical calligraphic landscapes of Rice professor Bas Poulos are highlighted in his “Arcadia Vista” series (opening March 7).
The Year of Bianconi: The Italian sculptor, installationist and alchemical performance artist Andrea Bianconi returns to Barbara Davis Gallery in “Love Story,” in which he concocts an extraordinary site-specific wall drawing formed from live flowers (March 22 – April 20). Catch him next in Russia, as he is included in the Moscow Biennial, opening this fall.
Enchanted Kingdom: Houston talent Lisa Ludwig returns to her original medium — ceramics — and casts delicate porcelain offerings loaded with dark humor evocative of Grimm’s Fairy Tales at Moody Gallery. And don’t miss her exquisite flora and fauna — mice in coffins, anyone? — which win us over with their absolute beauty (through March 23) … Speaking of porcelain, in G Gallery’s solo for Debra Broz, the artist unfurls her way with found ceramics, which have been altered and reconfigured in alarming ways, curated by Diane Barber (March 2 – 31) … Box 13 also goes ceramics crazy. In conjunction with the arrival of the National Council for Education on Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Conference in Houston, our fave East End destination mounts a quartet of exhibitions (March 9 – April 13; box13artspace.com).
The Prince Is in the Palace: Don’t miss a show that combines multimedia and intellect to serve up a smart take on propaganda in the time of Twitter. We’re speaking of Charlie Morris at Art Palace — possibly one of the most brilliant shows in the Texas art world this spring (through March 30).
Behind the Scenes with CA Scene: Patrol some of our town’s most celebrated collections by joining City ArtWork’s CA Scene, which offers cocktails and insider tours while raising funds for the nonprofit’s mission of providing children’s art classes in area schools. Learn more and peruse cool art during a lively membership bash at the casa of Debby and Alan Stanton Thursday, March 28 (info 713.681.1331; cityartworks.org). FYI: PaperCity is the sponsor of all CA Scenes this season. Onward.