Remember pink? No, not the singer. The color. As you may recall, April once brought drifts of pink petals fluttering from ornamental plum and apple trees. Pink-tinged magnolia blossoms flickered in gardens. Pale tulips opened, and pink lilacs budded along with their lavender cousins. Really. It happened once upon a time, and true believers think they might live to see it again. Not this month, but maybe yet this year.
When Minneapolis painter Charles Lyon set out to paint a whole show of enormous, mostly pink blossoms last year, he probably had no idea how much we would need them this spring. His glorious Groveland Gallery show of three-foot-diameter dahlias, translucent peony petals and creamy bridal roses tinged with coral and morning-sun yellow is a perfect antidote to the lingering grays of winter.
Paintings, photos and collages by four other artists inject color, life and good cheer into this glum season in shows closing all too soon at three other Minneapolis galleries. Take heart and see them.
Groveland Gallery and Annex
Lyon’s startlingly beautiful blooms seemed even more improbable last week as a blizzard raged and icy slush glazed the streets. Magnified to big-screen proportions, his painted flowers are as fresh and delicate as when first picked, their myriad shades of pink and rose shimmering with summer promise.
The spiky twisted petals of his “Clear Choice” dahlia flare as if about to take flight. With artistic sleight-of-hand he uses curls of very pale, translucent blue to suggest the bowered heart of a white peony and the transparent fragility of another white beauty, “Dahlia #6.” A wedding bouquet inspired his pretty watercolors of roses, their blousy heads depicted close-up as whorls of pink highlighted with saffron, mint, tangerine and even taupe as the blooms die away.
His show wraps up with several meadows of brown-eyed susans nodding in the heat of a late summer evening. Imagine. (And thank you, Charlie.)
In Groveland’s adjacent Annex, Hamline University art professor Andrew Wykes reports on a summer sojourn in Ireland whose ever-verdant landscape inspired his handsome abstractions. Titles such as “Carrowmore From Ballycastle” or “Belmullet” hint at specific places, but identities dissolve into poetic reveries in horizontal images layered with green and aqua, dappled blue and misty gray. Both shows are on view for just one more week, and they are so worth the trip.
Ending May 4, free. Groveland Gallery and Annex, 25 Groveland Terrace, Mpls. 612-377-7800 or www.grovelandgallery.com.
Form + Content Gallery
Another rite of Midwestern spring inspired “Flood,” Jil Evans’ show of large abstract paintings and small collages. An art professor at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Evans photographed the 2010 turbulence of that town’s Cannon River at flood stage. In letter-sized collages, she evokes the flood with scribbles of limpid blue and streaks of yellow splashed over scraps of photos depicting dark water, swirling ice and debris. Despite their tiny scale, the collages seem huge, their brooding intensity and spontaneity effectively hinting at the maelstrom that inspired them.
Her paintings, up to 5 feet tall and 9 feet wide, are less persuasive. Their swirling shapes and smeary gestures seem too studied and tentative to embody the wildness to which they aspire. Sometimes the haiku is enough.
Ends May 11, free. Form + Content Gallery, 210 N. 2nd St., Suite 104, Mpls. 612-436-1151 or www.formandcontent.org.
Franklin Art Works
A 2009 graduate of Minneapolis College of Art and Design, photographer Pao Houa Her earned an MFA from Yale last year. Now living in Lino Lakes, she infuses her first solo show with a strongly autobiographical edge. In just 16 color images Her suggests the cultural confusion and ambivalence that she, her family and other Hmong refugees experienced when transplanted to the United States.
Elderly Hmong men, for example, posed for her in ersatz American uniforms reflecting the work they did for the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, while elderly Hmong women chose to stand before backdrop photos she made of landmarks in their homeland. Portraits of herself and other family members (her husband and mother) are unflinchingly candid and coyly humorous records of plump, unglamorous figures in sometimes comic situations (at a swimming pool, posing for a dating site).
“Spring” in her new world appears in a disarmingly sweet picture of a child’s hand reaching for a fake orange dangling from a plastic tree.
Ends May 1, free. Franklin Art Works, 1021 E. Franklin Av., Mpls. 612-872-7494 or www.franklinartworks.org.
Veteran Minnesota painter Hazel Belvo delivers an inspiring tour de force tribute to the “Spirit Tree,” a gnarled landmark overlooking Lake Superior that she has painted in various guises for five decades. Here she personifies the ancient cedar as a solitary figure against expressive backgrounds of dappled color — orange, red, purple and so on.
More than 5 feet tall, each image is a portrait of the tree imbued with human qualities — as poet, prophet, crone, survivor, guardian. Wrapping around the gallery’s walls, the paintings create a chapel-like enclosure, as if standing sentinel at way stations along life’s path. Poignant and moving.
Ends May 18, free. Bockley Gallery, 2123 W. 21st St., Mpls. West of Lake of the Isles near Franklin Av. 612-377-4669 or www.bockleygallery.com.
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