1. Edgar Heap of Birds, Bockley Gallery: The artist, a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, continued his smart interjections into colonial narratives of American history with a series called “Native Hosts,” creating signage native to Minnesota — which actually is a Dakota word. His show opened shortly after the “Scaffold” controversy went down at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
2. “Adiós Utopia,” Walker Art Center: This grand survey of Cuban art led viewers on a journey of the island nation’s history through the eyes of the artists who stayed. It wound up being Walker executive director Olga Viso’s swan song when she announced her pending departure just days after the opening.
3. Aliza Nisenbaum, Minneapolis Institute of Art: During a three-month residency, the New York-based, Mexico City-born painter came to know various communities in and around the museum. Then she created large-scale portraits of groups of Somali women, Latino elders and museum security guards that turned the colonial nature of Eurocentric portraiture on its head.
4. “We the People,” Minnesota Museum of American Art: Four talented curators organized more than 35 works of art that spoke to a broad range of cultural identities, questioning what “American-ness” really is or could be.
5. “I Am Somali,” Minneapolis Institute of Art: Three intergenerational Somali-American artists — Ifrah Mansour, Hassan Nor and Aziz Osman — presented multidisciplinary artwork and a peek into the experience of immigrants.
6. “Déformation Professionnelle,” Walker: Nairy Baghramian’s retrospective plays with the idea of a retrospective. Rather than showcase a collection of past works, she retooled them, creating a sort of anti-retrospective that also questions the museum’s role in institutionalizing an artist’s career. The sculptures themselves play with materials — heavy steel appears to be rubber, and so forth.
7. “Ekphrastic 2.0,” SooVAC: What happens when you ask 38 artists to create a giant hodgepodge, hive-mind-style exhibition? You get an eccentric mix of radically raw visions, curated by Megan Vossler. We hope this experiment continues as a Twin Cities tradition.
8. “Unloaded,” Minneapolis College of Art and Design: Seeking to learn more about the historic and social issues around guns and how they have become a constant in American lives, curator Susanne Slavick organized 22 artists whose work shoots to the heart of it all.
9. “Bobby Rogers: The Blacker the Berry,” Public Functionary: The young, emerging artist created magnificently regal portraits of black people.
10. “Merce Cunningham: Common Time,” Walker: This massive exhibition showcased the genius of the dance pioneer, along with pivotal works by such collaborators as Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol and John Cage.