1 If art imitates life, then life here in the North Star state is tranquil, introspective and preoccupied with observing the passing scene, watching the seasons change, admiring our precocious kids and aging gracefully. The Big Picture isn’t much in evidence at the State Fair’s Fine Arts Center, where 325 paintings, photos, sculpture, textiles, ceramics and other creative effusions suggest what’s on our minds and in our hearts and hands. Photography dominates, including Becqi Sherman’s “Alone at Night in Barcelona,” Lauren B. Gagner’s “A Farmer’s Farewell,” and Peter Zarnoti’s photo of a modern “Aphrodite.”
2 Sisters from different mothers and music genres, Twin Cities music stars Lizzo and Caroline Smith find solid common ground in support of a good cause with their new joint single, “Let ’Em Say.” The ’80s-styled synth-poppy track features the edgy indie-rapper and soulful R&B siren working hard for their Donna Summer money in a spirited ode to thick skin. It’s a warm-up to their Sept. 27 co-headlining show at First Avenue and benefits the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. Available via Bandcamp.com.
3 “What If” just manages to bring a freshness to rom-coms, largely on the strength of Zoe Kazan’s enormous quirky-girl appeal, with an able assist by Daniel Radcliffe, who here makes another smart post-“Harry Potter” career choice as her lovelorn pal. This movie mashes up themes previously explored in the iconic boomer film “When Harry Met Sally” and Gen X’s mantra “Reality Bites,” then distills them through a modern twenty-something’s worldly lens. This sweet little movie peppered with crude age-appropriate humor is a palate cleanser to savor between the cartoon blockbusters of summer and the serious cinema of fall.
5 In 1960, Bloomington Civic Theatre debuted with a production of the then-current musical “Guys and Dolls.” But it’s hard to imagine that it could hold a candle to the current staging. From the opening ballet, director/choreographer Michael Matthew Ferrell successfully creates the quirky characters of the fictional world of lowlife Broadway in the 1920s and ’30s through inventive movement. The female leads are stronger than the men, but together they form a nice set of comic and romantic duos. Rachel Weber (second from right) walks away with the evening as nightclub singer Miss Adelaide. btacmn.org
4 In “The Low Road: A Novel,” the fifth of A.D. Scott’s wonderfully atmospheric mysteries set in Scotland in the 1950s, Highland Gazette editor John McAllister is coming apart at the seams. His fiancée is struggling to recover from a murder attempt, his Traveller friend is missing, and McAllister himself is jumping with both feet into a midlife crisis. He returns to his hometown of Glasgow to search for his friend and falls into a huge story — irresistible to a newspaperman — about corruption and violence in Glasgow’s shady underworld. At the same time, he falls for an intrepid reporter who will do just about anything for a story.