Artists in three Minneapolis gallery shows celebrate Earth’s vast and intimate wonders even as they fret about its future.
At Form + Content, more than a dozen Twin Cities talents ruminate about the state of the Earth in paintings, posters, photos and installations. Curator Camille J. Gage posed tough questions to spark what became their “Fierce Lament” on the subject.
“Is the end of life as we know it inevitable, or is there still time to mend our broken relationship with our Earth?” she asks. “As we face the slow destruction of the natural systems we rely on, how will we live?”
Expecting tidy answers to such vast and unwieldy topics would be way too much to ask of this slender show. Nevertheless, the artists provided a good deal to mull over in their dramatic and engaging display.
Sean Connaughty’s “Arc of the Anthropocene” is the most provocative piece. Posing as a future anthropologist, Connaughty describes photos of carefully selected trash — toys, food wrappers, plastic water bottles — culled from 106 large bags of debris that he raked out of Lake Hiawatha in 2015. (Kudos for the cleanup work!)
His scholarly but antiseptic lingo is a clever mask for a devastating critique of the way now extinct “bipedal hominid endothermic amniotes” (i.e. humans) treated their environment. Despite “sufficient cranial capacity for intelligence” and evident concern for their young, this once-thriving life form was undone by malnourishment, aggressive capitalism, civil conflict and failure to develop the “empathetic capacity” necessary for species survival.
Presenting our collective follies so dispassionately effectively accentuates their dangers and lends gravitas to his photos of such otherwise mundane stuff as toy palm trees, a moldy pacifier and a tiny rusted truck.
Nearby, Lela Pierce has concocted a dense installation of twigs, seed pods, dried roots and grasses that she’s woven into a visually arresting celebration of nature’s fecundity. Andrea Carlson’s dramatic, wall-sized painting of a barren, rocky inlet is framed by a porthole-like surrounding of jagged black-and-white lines, as if viewed by aliens from a distant galaxy. In a wall sculpture, Jonee Kulman Brigham links electrical switches to little photos of power plants and their varied sources of energy — nuclear, coal, gas, oil, trash.
Other pieces celebrate such Earth-themed topics as composting, pollination, the Mississippi River, ancient grains and volcanic evidence of the long arc of time. In conjunction with the show, several local writers will read earthy poetry at the Red Stag Supperclub in Minneapolis at 7 p.m. May 12 (free).
Noon-6 p.m. Thu.-Sat. through May 14. Free. Form + Content Gallery, 210 N. 2nd St., Mpls. 612-436-1151 or formandcontent.org.
In high summer, the 24-hour light of northern latitudes has a serene shimmer that Ontario painter Janice Mason Steeves successfully captures in her seductively beautiful show at Circa Gallery. With her work highly sought elsewhere, Steeves sent just eight paintings to her Minneapolis debut.
Inspired by a 2015 residency near the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden, they are studies of almost palpable light as it changes from aqua to deep blue, pale gray to black, amber to rich crimson. Whiter shades of pale drop over the canvases like gauze curtains or rise as crystalline mists or crackling ice. How she achieves her effects remains a mystery, but the results are exquisite.
1-6 p.m. Tue.-Fri., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. through May 14. Free. Circa Gallery, 210 N. 1st St., Mpls. 612-332-2386 or circagallery.org.
Minneapolis-based Amy Rice is a down-home gardener enchanted by such common flowers as phlox, hollyhocks, zinnias and the modest vases and bouquets in which they look best. Within the past decade her vivid paintings have been featured in galleries in Finland, Nova Scotia, Shanghai and Beijing, China. Here they’re showcased in a monthlong “pop-up” display that has the winsome charm of a summer fling.
At nearly 5 feet wide, her fuchsia, orange and lemon “Zinnias” boom before a turquoise wall, while her baby-doll pink and yellow hollyhocks glow against a black ground. Throughout, Rice’s deft hands bring life to the papery textures, crinkled petals and rough stems of these humble blooms.
Noon-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat. through May 14. Groveland Gallery, 25 Groveland Terrace, Mpls. 612-377-7800 or grovelandgallery.com.