Chicago-based artists Sergio Gomez and Mario Gonzalez are friends whose distinctive styles struggle to breathe in an important but badly installed show at Gallery 13 in downtown Minneapolis.

Gomez is the more ambitious and introspective of the two, a painter whose sensitive images have been exhibited in Sweden, Spain, Mexico and throughout the United States. Typically he outlines a bulky, masculine figure on paper or canvas nearly 9 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Stained, streaked and dashed with flecks of paint, the figures are ambiguously expressive, their arms akimbo or upstretched, torsos slumped in thought or poised as if for flight or fight. A jittery orange line sparks from an electrical outlet and arcs around one figure, while another curls into fetal position and floats or falls through creamy light.

Elsewhere a child-sized Gomez shadow swims through an aqueous haze while two others stand in a bower of spring grass and a meadow of summer flowers. Most pointed are two enormous heads, seen from behind, and stamped respectively with the words “Acquired/identity” and “Assigned/identity.”

While Gomez muses about the human condition, his pal Gonzalez applies graffiti gestures to smaller canvases. Gonzalez’s signature is a whiplash in silver or black on fields edged with jagged marks and centered by ivory drips, taupe stains and architectural lines. Once a signifier of urban grit, graffiti was long ago tamed for upscale consumption and these are stylish and attractive examples of that school.

Unfortunately, both artists’ pictures are jumbled together in two cavernous rooms separated by a dingy hall in a shabby midtown building in desperate need of renovation. Still, it is unfair to blame the building for the depressing effect here. For that the gallery owners are responsible and, after six years on site, they need to step up their game. The gallery’s rough concrete floors, tacky ceiling ductwork, junky ladders and general clutter may have passed as “arty” somewhere, sometime, but now they’re just bad housekeeping. Patrons deserve better, and so do the artists.

Noon-6 p.m. Tue.-Sat., Gallery 13, 811 LaSalle Av., Mpls. Ends May 24, free. 651-592-5503 or

Marvels of observation

Known for her meticulously designed miniature books, Prof. Jody Williams of Minneapolis College of Art and Design records the natural world with more than two dozen delicate drawings and tiny bronze sculptures in “Particula Obscura” at Form + Content Gallery in Minneapolis.

Each is a marvel of observation, be it the sharp spines of a thistle, a dimpled rose hip, a translucent sea urchin shell, a loon feather or a crab claw. Williams isolates each object and renders it roughly life-size, enabling its solitary beauty to shine with singular grace.

Inspired by 17th-century “wunderkammern,” or cabinets of wonders, “Particula Obscura” also includes trays of feathers, grasses and seeds; bronze casts of shells and seedpods, and jars of sand, flower petals and other ephemera that Williams collects on urban walks and country bike rides. Lovely meditations, all.

Noon-6 p.m. Thu.-Sat., Form + Content Gallery, 210 N. 2nd St., Mpls. 612-436-1151 or

Paintings/furniture mashup

In an inspired move, Minneapolis’ Circa Gallery has temporarily paired contemporary abstract paintings by a half-dozen artists with furnishings from Forage Modern Workshop, a Minneapolis interior design studio and shop on E. Lake Street.

“Forage + Circa” is a smart, stylish display that may just inspire a rethinking of your walls, your decor, your life. For this mashup, FMW brought 10 pieces of lean, clean-lined furniture to Circa’s spacious Warehouse District gallery. Furnishings include three-legged dining stools, hanging lamps folded like broken umbrellas, a black coffee table/bench from Brooklyn, a Swedish mobile, simple shelving and a “Cave” chair by Ralph Rapson.

Originally envisioned in plywood but never produced, the 1943 Rapson chair has been updated by the Duluth firm Loll, which fabricated it from 376 recycled plastic milk jugs, a Loll specialty. Shown in white, the Rapson chair is available in nine other colors.

The furnishings look smashing with colorful paintings by Mark Sharp, a Maryland artist apparently inspired by big floor pavers; brooding gestural pictures by Margaret Fitzgerald; elegant Diebenkorn-style color planes by Thomas Prinz; layered loops by Harold Hollingsworth; glossy encaustic brick patterns by Kathleen Waterloo, and sophisticated stripes arranged by Ellen Richman of Minneapolis.

1-6 p.m. Tue.-Fri., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. Circa Gallery, 210 N. 1st St., Mpls. Ends May 24, free. 612-332-2386 or