Photo by Judy Fairbrother
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If a tree falls in the forest, Project Art for Nature (PAN) wants to know about it—and paint it, sculpt it, etc. The PAN artists, whose show “Presence, Essence, Absence” opens February 10 at the Bell Museum of Natural History, draw inspiration from the Midwest’s threatened wild places, depicting the beauty, degradation, and occasional restoration of these diminishing natural habitats in order that others may be moved to save them. • Bell Museum of Natural History, 10 Church St. SE, Mpls., 612-624-7083
Walker at the Walker
Kara Walker is all about the message, not the medium. She addresses the legacy of slavery in everything from large-scale murals to shadow puppets to cut-paper silhouettes (a genteel 18th-century art that contrasts strikingly with the raw sexuality and violence of her subject matter). Beginning February 17, the Walker Art Center hosts “Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love”—the first American museum survey of her work and a provocative trip through, as she puts it, “the pathologies of the past.” • Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-375-7600
Photo by Scott J. Pakudaitis
Missed the Minnesota Fringe Festival last summer? You can still catch four of its best-attended shows at the “Fringe Encore,” hosted by the Guthrie Theater from February 1 to 4 in the Dowling Studio. From renegade ghostbusters to Google: The Musical, hip-hop and African dance to Alice in Wonderland re-envisioned in a nightclub setting, it’s the hits without all the misses. See two or more for a discounted price. • Guthrie Theater, 818 Second St. S., Mpls., 612-377-2224.
What if men in a small Midwestern town in the 1920s had to play the female roles in a melodrama they staged as a fundraiser? And what if they discovered, to their horror, that they were good at it? That’s the starting point of Act A Lady, opening February 23 at Illusion Theater. The play was written by up-and-coming playwright Jordan Harrison and is staged by Peter Rothstein, the artistic director of Theater Latté Da. Rothstein has been on a roll since collecting Best Director honors from City Pages last fall; he also opens Susannah, a 1950s folk opera about paranoia in the Appalachians (with parallels to McCarthyism), at Latté Da on February 3. • Illusion Theater, 528 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-339-4944; Theater Latté Da at the Loring Playhouse, 1633 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 651-209-6689.
And Justice For All
Opening with a tribute to Rosa Parks (the oratorio Dear Mrs. Parks), VocalEssence’s annual Witness concert on February 25 builds on the social justice theme with a selection of freedom anthems, from “We Shall Overcome” to an Argentinean protest song. • Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, 345 Washington St., St. Paul, 651-224-4222.
Joseph Scrimshaw (often performing with his brother Joshua) has enlivened the Bryant-Lake Bowl stage with screwball comedy shows for nearly a decade. This month, he stars in two different plays there: the final installment of Hardcover Theater’s London After Midnight, a series of over-the-top Victorian tales, from February 8 to 25; and Adventures in Mating, a Fringe Festival favorite that, like a choose-your-own-adventure book, allows the audience to determine the outcome. The latter opens February 14, then runs every Monday in perpetuity. • Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater, 810 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-825-8949.