The endless mutability of English and its potential for playful puns has spawned a clever exhibit of drawings now on view at Soo Visual Art Center in south Minneapolis.

Keen to encourage young talent and traditional skills, gallery owner Suzy Greenberg recently invited artists to submit drawings exploring different implications of the phrase "to draw," as used in art (draw a picture), sports (the game ended in a draw), weaponry (draw a gun) and life (draw breath). While the challenge smacks of an academic exercise, the results -- on view through Aug. 16 -- are amusing and display enough talent to merit a detour to SooVAC, especially since its building incubates three other galleries with distinctive niches.

Toomer Gallery is showing clever new paintings by the Twin Cities' own sly surrealist, Jennifer Davis (also through Aug. 16). Highpoint Center for Printmaking is sampling the extremely diverse work of a printmaking cooperative that uses its facility (through Aug. 30). And the amusing Robot Love shop has tempting toys, cards, T-shirts and other merchandise inspired by anime and sophisticated kid culture.

Draw Too

Not constrained by traditional tools, the 14 artists in the SooVAC show employ everything from pencils to rhinestones, glitter, yarn and pipe cleaners. Scott Stulen makes good use of the latter in his "Bored and Old," a "drawing" he fashioned from pipe cleaners twisted to form the words "Still waiting for my teenage angst to pay off." Tacked to the wall with dress pins, the words and their jerky shadows exude hapless irony. Yarn is the drawing medium for Kurtis Skaife, who has created complicated images by neatly gluing lines of it to form images of a football game, a stalker and the Spock character from "Star Trek."

Rob McBroom is the glitter master, using it to garnish a dozen heads he cut from slabs of Masonite. Most of them are Pop-style cartoon pirates, thugs and desperados whose connection to the drawing theme is tenuous at best, but their audacious brio is engaging anyway.

For thematic coherence, the prize goes to Bethany Kalk for four elegantly designed images in encaustic (pigmented wax) on wood panels. Their silken surfaces enhance her skillfully rendered impressions of a woman breathing, a pair of gunslingers, a ballgame and a leafy abstraction.

Megan Vossler's four series of pencil, ink and chalk drawings are unusually fine. Not more than notebook size, her sketches inspired by Goya explore such traditional figurative themes as prayer, the swoon, expressions of shock and horror, death. Another group of inky, Rembrandt-esque drawings derive from photos of recent incidents in Iraq. The other groups explore how body language can suggest petulance and death. Such exercises were once common among art students who learned exactly how to curl a lip or furrow a brow to depict anguish, despair or transcendent hope. Vossler's work is a welcome revival of a venerable tradition of observation and expressive reportage.

Other pieces are by John Largaespada, Craig Hill, Isaac Arvold, Adam Carstens, Katrina Lamb, Sarah Thibault, Michael McConnell, Caleb Coppock and Eric Carlson.

Jennifer Davis

With the title "Through the Looking Glass," Davis' show at Toomer Gallery suggests a world where illusion and reality collide and all is not what it may at first seem. So, too, do her delicate, exquisitely crafted drawings in pencil and light washes of watery paint. In her imaginative drawings, monsters nibble egg-babies, animals assume human poses and vice versa, trees sprout from the foreheads of sulky young women who defiantly mutter "none of your business." It is, in other words, a fairy-tale world in which dogs, cats, birds, fish and other creatures act out psychological fears and fantasies in picture-book scenes filled with innocent charm and undercurrents of dark truth.

Mary Abbe • 612-673-4431