An environmentally conscious exhibit at a Scandinavian art gallery? Actually, it's apropos for St. Paul's Water and Oil Gallery, owner Jim Davidson noted -- and not just because of the polar-bear photo.

"We're about as recycled as it gets," said Davidson, whose gallery specializes in decades-old art from northern Europe. "Even our abstracts have been in people's homes."

The works in "Irreplaceable: Wildlife in a Warming World," which opens today, are 40 prints by some of the nation's top wildlife photographers, chronicling the effects of climate change on flora and fauna. The subjects range from pikas to piping plovers, from coral reef to Western prairie fringed orchids.

The exhibit, which is in the middle of a one-year tour, also features several species found in this region, including monarch butterflies, whooping cranes, northern pin-tailed ducks and moose. The photographers, many of whom are regulars in National Geographic magazine, include Art Wolfe, Michele Westmorland and underwater expert Brian Skerry.

The exhibit, which runs through Nov. 30, might be of a more contemporary vintage than Water and Oil's permanent collection, but still is an apt fit, according to Davidson.

"Environmental activism and education have always been really close to my heart. Five percent of our sales go to education on environmental activism," said Davidson. "We had an exhibit on ice floes about 10 months ago. We're all about trying to crate an image of a slower life, one that's more connected to nature.

"Plus, this fits in with a lot of our art, which is about a way of living in northern Europe that's gone now."

Bill Ward • 612-673-7643