'ART IN BLOOM'
Through Sunday: One of the Twin Cities' most popular spring rituals flourishes at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts again this week. The notion of flower arrangements inspired by paintings, sculpture and other museum objects is charmingly simple and a bit old-fashioned but beautifully executed year after year. The amateur gardeners and professional florists who take up the challenge are wonderfully inventive in translating the shapes, colors, designs and mood of the art into fragile displays. Their vases range from beautiful to really wacky, and the scent of spring wafts through the building. The painting of Saint Lucy, shown above with a tulip arrangement, was done in 1410 by Benedetto di Bindo Zoppo from Siena, Italy. Theodore Wendel's impressionist painting "The Butterfly Catchers" inspired this year's AIB theme, "Art in the Garden." Now in its 29th year, AIB has raised $2.9 million over the years to support the museum, but it's still free to the public. Such a sweet deal. (Through April 29. Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 3rd Av. S., 612-870-3131 or www.artsmia.org)
ST. PAUL ART CRAWL
Starts Friday: Why are these gigs called "crawls?" Nobody crawls. This weekend-long movable feast of art sprawls through 300 artists' studios and galleries in downtown St. Paul, west on University Avenue, along Grand Avenue and onto Harriet Island. Expect to find paintings, photos, pottery, handmade fashions, jewelry and sculpture for sale or for gawking at. Michelle Worms' "Oskar," the perky fish seen here, is a glass mosaic. Musicians and performers will be out. Restaurants and coffee shops abound. The McNally Smith Sound Crawl Hybrid Marching Band will hit the streets Friday night. Ballet Minnesota and the St. Paul City Ballet will rehearse and perform. Anticipate fire dancing. Wear comfortable shoes. Plan to sprint. There's no time for slowpokes. (6-10 p.m. Fri.; noon-8 p.m. Sat.; noon-5 p.m. Sun. Info at www.artcrawl.org)
'ARTISTS IN STOREFRONTS'
Opening Friday: Minneapolis' Whittier neighborhood is home to artists, designers, great restaurants, an art college, an art museum and a bunch of empty storefronts left by businesses hard hit in the recession. The storefronts are about to blossom with six weeks of interventions by poets, textile artists, photographers, font designers, sign painters and muralists. More than 25 artists, including many neighborhood residents, have signed on to create murals, sculptures and window displays that will be lit until 11 p.m. each evening. Projects include a "moss mural" on the facade of Rainbow Chinese, yarn-bomb sculptures around the city of Lakes Waldorf School and a "Before I Die" wall on the facade of Fallout Gallery. Conceived by freelance storefront designer Joan Vorderbruggen, who created the display shown above, the "Artists in Storefronts" project aims to reanimate the streets, spur the economy and have fun. Artists will lead walking tours at 2 p.m. Saturdays through June 2, Whittier Alliance Building, 10 E. 25th St., Mpls. (Opening party, 7-9 p.m. Fri., free, Fallout Co-op Studios, 2601 2nd Av. S., Mpls. "Busk Until Dawn" closing-night party, starts 9 p.m. June 9, free, Icehouse Court, 2540 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls. www.artistsinstorefronts.com)
Opens Friday: Armstrong Fine Art, a venerable by-appointment-only gallery in Chicago's Gold Coast, is having a weekend fling with Minneapolis' own Groveland Gallery. The two share some artists, notably the deft young American printmaker Ellen Heck, whose fetching woodcut-etching "The Bath and the Towel" is shown here. Armstrong is also an outlet for the sensitive drawings and paintings of Minneapolis artist Philip Barber, who often draws and collages on expressively worn book covers and end papers. The Chicago venue's stock in trade, however, is classic 19th- and 20th-century European prints and drawings, especially intimate French impressions by Pierre Bonnard, C.F. Daubigny, Henri Riviere, Andre Derain and such lesser known figures as Henri Guérard, a widely influential but now overlooked talent whose work will be shown in depth. For just two days, Armstrong will set up shop in Groveland's mansion overlooking Walker Art Center. (5-8 p.m. Fri.; noon-5 p.m., Sat., free. Groveland Gallery, 25 Groveland Terrace, Mpls. 612-377-7800 or www.grovelandgallery.com)