Immigrant Stories, Racist Housing, and Eerie Landscapes: 5 New Art Exhibits

Local artists examine their backyards in compassionate, dreamlike, and strange ways

Local artists have been dwelling on their backyards, with political edge. These new exhibits—plus whimsy and world culture—keep you up-to-date on the Twin Cities art scene.

Form and Influence

August 31–October 5
Inez Greenberg Gallery
1800 W. Old Shakopee Rd., Bloomington

DIY Malevich, by Alexander Tylevich

A dreamlike landscape of paintings and sculptures turns the Inez Greenberg Gallery into an extraterrestrial fantasia, inspired by the idea of “ephemera” combined with memories of hiking in forests, on mountains, and through gardens. St. Paul artists Tesera Cox and Alexander Tylevich install statues resembling an alien populace and paintings that reimagine natural environs in color-syncopated weirdness. Learn more.

The Decorated World: Asmat Art and Daily Life

September 5, 2018 – July 31, 2019
The American Museum of Asmat Art at the University of St. Thomas
2115 Summit Ave., St. Paul

University of St. Thomas Photo

It’s good to get away from the trappings of modern U.S. culture now and then. In this case, the American Museum of Asmat Art raises a valuable question: Have we accustomed ourselves to ugly things? The museum, dedicated to the art of the Asmat people from New Guinea, explores life in this South Pacific culture, perhaps best known for lavishly designed ceremonial instruments. But Asmat artistic flair doesn’t stop at the sacred. Even mundane, utilitarian objects receive careful, celebratory embellishment. This new exhibit features some of those beautifully functional things—shields, drums, bowls, textiles—along with wood sculptures depicting everyday affairs, as in one expressionistic rendering of two women catching a fish in a net. Learn more.

Women with a Fishing Net, University of St. Thomas Photo

Facing America: An Exhibition of Immigrant Portraits

September 6–November 30
Capella Tower
225 S. Sixth St., Minneapolis

Portrait of Kassah, from Ethiopia, by Joe Burns

Minneapolis oil painter Joe Burns, known for his portraits of people in the Bakken Oil Fields, takes on the state’s immigrant population, painting individuals who came here from various countries, including state representative and U.S. House nominee Ilhan Omar. A plaque next to each describes the stories. There’s a man, Kassah, from Ethiopia who was orphaned at a young age after his father died in war and his mother disappeared. There’s a political refugee from Zimbabwe who reunited with her husband in St. Paul, and a man who moved to the U.S. from Mexico at age 3 and has had to watch friends and family deported.

“Art can play an important role in conveying messages about people’s lives without trying to politicize the stories,” Omar says of the exhibit. “It can be a mediator in the broader discussion.”

Beth Dow: Prediction Error

Through October 28
Minneapolis Institute of Art
2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis

The Valley 2 by Beth Dow

Artist Beth Dow takes a photo of the Badlands—dry hills, spiny cliffs—and removes the sky from behind them. In place of that familiar blue, she inserts a plain black background. A simple change, but it surprisingly reorients the picture well out of our universe. Stripped of a light source and of that typical frame of reference, the photo suddenly captures a landscape that’s uncanny and unfamiliar. Dow takes this same approach to still lifes—stranging fruits and flowers—and other landscapes. The resulting discombobulation is a “prediction error” we, the viewers, are making. It’s a refreshing, if eerie, reacquaintance with a world we take for granted. Learn more.

Structure by Beth Dow

Owning Up: Racism and Housing in Minneapolis

Through January 20
Hennepin History Museum
2303 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis

This exhibit challenges the notion of Minneapolis as a “model metro.” It coincides with the 50th anniversary of legislation passed by a young Walter Mondale. Called the Fair Housing Act, it aimed to thwart racism in housing. Fair Housing Reframed, the Hennepin History Museum, and two grad students in a U of M program on diversity and community engagement present an exhibit retracing the racial segregation that led to the act. They identify ways this prejudice has continued and plot a course for housing equity. Learn more.

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