Design and understatement carry the day in four Minneapolis gallery shows.
Approaching art as an exercise in puzzle-making, Carlos Amorales taps into an archive of signature shapes -- bird silhouettes, body parts, geographic fragments -- compiled over the past decade at his studio in Mexico City. At Highpoint he produced 23 bold intaglio and relief prints, plus a large lithograph, that randomly combine bits of imagery -- red and blue apes, human legs, eagle and crow heads. He composed a curious set of "snake glyphs" by using an eagle-head silhouette as a rubber stamp to tap out ragged lines that look like letters in an unknown script. Best are four "Useless Wonder Maps" showing the continents of the world exploding into black, country-shaped fragments floating in a sea of white. As always at Highpoint, the images are flawlessly printed and impressively displayed. But aside from the maps they seem curiously ornamental and empty, as if the fastidiousness of the printing process suppressed the potent narratives that have brought Amorales international attention for his videos and DVD collaborations.
Ends Nov. 20, free. Highpoint Center for Printmaking, 912 W. Lake St., Mpls. 612-871-1326 or www.highpointprintmaking.orgCirca Gallery
Minnesota artist Monica Reede plays with the yin and yang of contemporary trends in her elegant new show at Circa. Blond and beautiful, her wall constructions use minimalist gestures and shadowy figures to subtle psychological effect. Her images are built in complex layers starting with panels of pale, polished wood to which she affixes transparent Plexiglas panels into which she has etched loops and cascades of rope and sketched shadows that the ropes might make. Two of the constructions include deft drawings of a woman twisted into a self-protective curl. With their pale tones and laconic imagery, the constructions are enticing and mysterious, their withdrawn and enigmatic figures steeped in loneliness. The ropes also carry a latent emotional charge. Most are simply draped or puddled like soft curtain fabric, but others take on a darker aspect and one is knotted into what might be a hangman's loop. If viewed as a sequential narrative, the constructions can be seen as existential vignettes for a troubled soul. All are haunting in their understatement.
Through Dec. 11, free. Circa Gallery, 210 N. 1st St., Mpls. 612-332-2386 or www.circagallery.orgTraffic Zone Center for Visual Art
Opposites also define the drawings of Valerie Jenkins and the paintings of Barbara Kreft at nearby Traffic Zone. Jenkins executes her handsome sketches of clouds in shades of black and gray, rendering their amorphous shapes in loose, expansive gestures or -- in the case of a looming thunderhead -- with explosive energy. Kreft's paintings, by contrast, are colorful mosaics laboriously composed of tiny squares of cool blue, rusty ocher, burnished gold interrupted with curious glyphs that suggest ancient lettering. Where Jenkins looks up and out to nature, Kreft turns back to history and culture for inspiration.
Ends Nov. 26, free. Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art, 250 3rd Av. N., Mpls. www.trafficzoneart.comFox Tax Gallery
A recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, Drew Peterson is another skilled printmaker whose "Endless Winter" screenprints and paintings aptly demonstrate his design savvy. The images collage antique automotive parts (radiator grilles, lights, running boards) with other mechanical devices (fans, spokes, wheels, boat hulls). His cool palette of taupe, blue, silver and black-and-white makes for handsome designs that lend a sleek mechanical elegance to images curiously steeped in nostalgia.
Ends Nov. 19, free. The Gallery @ Fox Tax, 503 1st Av. NE., Mpls.
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