As the weather oscillates between wintertime snow and springtime slush, three exhibitions explore Minnesota art gems, Southern California aesthetics and Dakota artist Angela Two Stars' creative healing process.
'Hidden Gems' at the Hennepin History Museum
True to the exhibition's title, there are some hidden gems in this exhibition. Culled from the museum's permanent collection, these 20th-century works focus on a Minnesotan version of abstract expressionism, local artists influenced by fauvism (painting that often uses bright colors and intense brushwork), political drawings and landscapes. One of the gems is a lithograph of a street scene filled with subtle anti-capitalist signage, drawn by Wanda Gág, who is known for her 1928 Newbery Honor-winning picture book "Millions of Cats." A lot of artworks are packed into this small gallery, and it's a chance to learn about Minnesota local art history. (Ends July. Free or pay-as-you-can. 2303 3rd Av. S., Mpls. Hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Thu. & Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. hennepinhistory.org or 612-870-1329)
'Astroturf' at Gamut Gallery
Created in partnership with the furniture company Blu Dot, two Minnesota-based and two L.A.-based artists use Astro Turf as a jumping-off point for playing with ideas of real vs. fake, pop art and SoCal aesthetics. Nicole Mueller's "Palm Springs" series includes photos of houses and palm trees that also are printed as postcards that people can buy. In SoCal artist Human Shaped Animal's three-dimensional acrylic, wood and glass sculpture "Meeting in the Middle," two hands mimic Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam" atop a circle of fake grass — yet there are real plants in the artist's works. Neal Breton's neon-colored pool scenes feel eerily devoid of life, while Genie Castro's abstract works are alive with energetic brushstrokes. Many of the SoCal aesthetics used in this show feel cliche, such as palm trees and pools. There's more below the surface in L.A., but that's not what this show is about. (Closes March 18. 717 S. 10th St., Mpls. Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wed.-Fri, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. gamutgallerympls.com or 612-367-4327)
'(Re)Connected' at Catherine G. Murphy Gallery
Artist Angela Two Stars is best known for her sculpture "Okciyapi (Help Each Other)" at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, a participatory work attributed to her healing journey and Dakota language revitalization. In her exhibition at St. Kate's, similar themes are at play. "Immersion," 2017, a series of flashcards with Dakota on the visible side and English on the other side (the viewer is invited to flip the cards), feels like an early sketch of what later became "Okciyapi." "Priceless Winyans" is a series of three fabric works made of ribbons used in ribbon skirts and drawings of soundwaves taken from audio recordings of everyday language such as "Pidamaya" (thank you) or "Aŋpetu Waśte Yuha" (Have a good day). "Winyan" means "woman" in Dakota, and the soundwaves look like the curves of a heartbeat monitor chart, making one think of the deeper connection to life. Humanizing and illuminating the stories of Native women is another of Two Stars' projects, part of raising awareness about the ongoing epidemic of murdered and missing Native women, and the effects of colonialism and violence. This is a show to see and contemplate. (Ends March 19. Catherine G. Murphy Gallery at St. Catherine University, 2004 Randolph Av., St. Paul. Free. Hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Fri., noon-6 p.m. Sat. & Sun. gallery.stkate.edu or 651-690-6644)