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
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.
As with Elvis, most of us prefer the young Bob Dylan: floppy-hatted and crazy-haired, singing about civil rights and tambourine men. And so the traveling exhibition Bob Dylan’s American Journey, which pulls into the Weisman Museum on February 3, tracks the troubadour from 1956 to 1966, from Hibbing high-schooler to international celebrity—roughly the same period covered by Martin Scorcese’s hit documentary. Featuring 160 artifacts, from handwritten drafts of songs to an unreleased recording of his first concert, the show traces Dylan’s ascent, even as it leaves anyone hoping for tidbits about Dylan in the disco era blowing in the wind. • Weisman Museum, 333 E. River Rd., Mpls., 612-625-9494.
Photo by V. Paul Virtucio
Photo by V. Paul Virtucio
The Revolution Will Be Danced
Buy those dancers a beer! The annual University Dance Theatre showcase turns 21 this year. Held February 2 to 4 and called Dance Revolutions (a cheeky reference to the popular arcade dance game?), the performances feature the creations of such well-known local choreographers as Uri Sands (including his lively new work Happy) and Ananya Chatterjea (head of Ananya Dance Theatre and described by Ms. magazine as being among the choreographers who are “still pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a woman and a dancer”).• Rarig Center, University of Minnesota, 330 21st Ave. S., Mpls., 612-624-2345.
What does a 9-year-old boy know about matters of the heart? Find out at the world premiere of The Ends of Love, performed by the Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theatre company from February 15 to 18 in the Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio. Referencing Plato’s Symposium, Nicole Krauss’s The History of Love, and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, among other texts, the work examines the nature of relationships through innocent eyes. • Guthrie Theater, 818 Second St. S., Mpls., 612-377-2224.
Bach of Ages
The Brandenburg Concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach are to classical-music radio what the repertoire of the Beatles is to classic-rock radio: universally loved staples. On February 10 at Sundin Music Hall, the Bach Society of Minnesota demonstrates exactly why this is the case. The concertos—balanced, beautiful, and compact—are note-for-note musical perfection. • Sundin Music Hall, Hamline University, 1536 Hewitt Ave., St. Paul, 651-292-3268.