Teaming with the McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota Center for Photography exposes the latest labors of four Twin Cities-based artists: Kristine Heykants, Orin Rutchick, Mickey Smith, and Angela Strassheim. From Rutchick’s photos of tourists (taking photos, of course) to Strassheim’s suburban portraits, the images sit provocatively on the leading edge of contemporary photography. Opens Aug. 4: Minnesota Center for Photography, 165 13th Ave. NE, 612-824-5500
Booker T. & the MG’s
While most musicians don’t exactly “make it” as a back-up band, the path certainly worked for the arrangers of the 1962 R&B hit “Green Onions”—an extraordinary tune with a rather ordinary name. Booker T. & the MG’s are best known as the house band for Stax Records, laying down the funky grooves that filled out the hits of soul-music greats Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and Carla Thomas. But they are nobody’s second fiddle and proved it recently during a raucously popular set at this year’s South by Southwest music festival. Backing up no one, they take center stage for two intimate shows at the Dakota. – Aug. 8 and 9: Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant, 1010 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-332-1010.
Music at the Zoo
Monkey business aside, the Minnesota Zoo offers one of the prettiest outdoor music venues in the state: an amphitheater overlooking a lush wooded valley. This month’s lineup offers both soul and spice: Buddy Guy, BÃ©la Fleck, Los Lobos, and John Hiatt and Shawn Colvin are among the highlights. Find more info at www.mnzoo.org. – Aug. 1—25: Minnesota Zoo Amphitheater, 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley, 651-989-5151.
Count Basie Tribute at Orchestra Hall
Led by trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis (yes, that Marsalis family), an all-star cast of today’s most talented jazz musicians has banded together to pay homage to one of the biggest names of the big-band era, Count Basie. It’s jazz royalty at its finest, though the tunes—from April in Paris to One O’Clock Jump—are still the best reason to attend. – Aug. 5: Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-371-5656.
Patti Smith at the State
They don’t make rock stars like Patti Smith anymore. Recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she’s more grit than glam and often referred to as “punk rock’s poet laureate.” Rightly so: Since her 1975 debut Horses, Smith has taken her time, releasing just 10 acclaimed albums while never abandoning her political activism. See her in concert at the State. – Aug. 6: State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-673-0404.
Children’s Theatre Company
And you thought you were having a bad day. Alexander gets skunked three times in one morning—and he hasn’t even had his coffee yet. The Children’s Theatre relates Judith Viorst’s beloved Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day with its familiar mix of charm and teachable moments, and not just for the kids. – Opens Aug. 24: Children’s Theatre Company, 2400 Third Ave. S., Mpls., 612-874-0400.
The nature of time transfixes artists Andy DuCett and Ruben Nusz in “Pointing in All Directions at Once,” their new exhibit at Rosalux Gallery. DuCett, whose work will be featured in an upcoming Midwest edition of New American Paintings, tackles our struggle with the passage of time in intricate drawings and a 400-collage project. Nusz’s take is decidedly darker, but just as profound. – Aug. 2—25: Rosalux Gallery, 1011 Washington Ave. S., Mpls., 612-747-3942.
Summer Music & Movies Series
Mondays in Loring Park this month the Walker Art Center and Park & Recreational Board present the films of director Douglas Sirk for Music & Movies, which, for 31 years, has paired classic-film showings with performances by the latest crop of local musicians. The free outdoor series spotlights British electro-pop artists Metronomy and Sirk’s Written on the Wind on August 6, as well as Mason Jennings’s former bassist Robert Skoro and Imitation of Life later in the month. Visit www.walkerart.org for more information. – Aug. 6, 13, 20: Loring Park, across from the Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-375-7600.
Reflections on War at the MIA
Two shows focused on the effects of war on the public open at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts this month as part of the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program. Megan Rye incorporates photographs her brother took while stationed in Iraq into her brightly colored paintings for “I Will Follow You Into the Dark.” Camille Gage, Justin Newhall, and Megan Vossler join forces for “War Mediated,” in which they explore how the military is portrayed in pop culture and the home. – Opens Aug. 31: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 Third Ave. S., Mpls., 612-870-3131. MM
Nicholas Harper at the Bloomington Art Center
Painting a niche all his own, Minneapolis artist Nicholas Harper stretches the boundaries of his classical training to create a portrait style he describes as magical realism, all elongated necks and fairy-tale auras. His latest works, debuting at the Bloomington Art Center, once again fuse fantasy and reality, juxtaposing traditional portraiture against highly textured and mystical backgrounds. Opens Aug. 17: Bloomington Art Center, 1800 W. Old Shakopee Rd., Bloomington, 952-563-8587