We are Hmong Minnesota

Through Nov. 29: When they immigrated to Minnesota from Southeast Asia 40 years ago, the Hmong were displaced allies of the U.S. government, soldiers who had fought for the CIA in a secret war in Laos. Now they and their families are “politicians, professors, business owners and U.S. citizens,” whose successful assimilation is celebrated in two exhibitions. The Twin Cities is now home to 66,000 Hmong, the largest urban concentration of Hmong in the nation. “We are Hmong Minnesota” at the Minnesota History Center recounts their stories through interviews, artifacts and multimedia presentations. “Paj Ntaub: Hmong Textiles” at James J. Hill House features 60 intricate examples of Hmong stitchery including the beautifully embroidered story-cloths that recount traditional legends, folk tales, family travails, and harrowing accounts of dangerous escapes from war zones. (History Center, 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul. $6-$11. 651-259-3000 or www.mnhs.org. Hill House, 240 Summit Av., St. Paul. $6-$9. 651-297-2555 or www.mnhs.org/hillhouse)

The Way of Cheng-Khee Chee: 1974-2014

May 12-Sept. 29: One of Minnesota’s most celebrated artists, Cheng-Khee Chee, 81, is known internationally for masterful watercolors that combine translucent washes with keenly observed details from nature, including his signature carp and other sea creatures. Forty paintings spanning 40 years follow the evolution of his art from his Chinese homeland to Duluth, where he now lives. Taoist philosophy, Chinese brush techniques and Western painting styles merge in the tranquil beauty of his work, much of it shown for the first time in more than 25 years. (Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota, 1201 Ordean Court, Duluth. Free. 1-218-726-8222 or www.d.umn.edu/tma)

Artist-Designed Mini Golf

May 21-Sept. 7: Puns abound on the Walker’s Art Center’s mini golf course, which returns for another fun summer adjacent to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Four new holes will join such old favorites as the Curling Club, an obstacle course of stones and brooms; Putt-Pong, which includes pingpong paddles and nets, and Putt R. Mutt, inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s infamous fountain-urinal. Other old faves include a giant gumball machine, gravestones, the night sky and Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. New holes tip their hand in their names: Let’s Be Frank, Keep on Truckin, Thrillo-Brillo Clean-Shot by Andy Warhol(e), and Red Haring. Too much fun. (Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. $19 for full course; $12 for half-course. 612-375-7600 or www.walkerart.org)

The Wood Engravings of Winslow Homer

Through Aug. 7: One of the 19th century’s most popular marine painters, Winslow Homer supported himself by doing engravings and illustrations for Harper’s Weekly and other popular magazines of the era. A choice selection of his engravings will include landscapes, seascapes, and reportage from the Civil War along with watercolors and paintings by the artist. (Minnesota Marine Art Museum, 800 River View Dr., Winona. $3-$7. 1-507-474-6626 or 1-866-940-6626. www.mmam.org)

The River Project

June 5-26: The Mississippi River has long defined Minnesota, providing spiritual and literary inspiration as well as commercial opportunities in the form of power for flour mills, water for breweries, and transportation linking the Land of 10,000 Lakes to markets around the world. In “The River Project,” three Minnesota-based artists explore the many meanings of the Mississippi at two key spots: a Minneapolis stretch from the Franklin Avenue bridge south to Ford Parkway, and in Grand Rapids just above and below that city’s dam. The project features recent work by St. Paul printmaker Rick Love, potter Daryn Lowman and painter-printmaker James Boyd Brent. (Opening reception 4-8 p.m. June 5. MacRostie Art Center, 405 1st Av. NW., Grand Rapids. Free. 1-218-326-2697 or www.macrostieartcenter.org)

Leonardo da Vinci, the Codex Leicester, and the Creative Mind

June 21-Aug. 30: Most famous now for painting a gal with an enigmatic smile called “Mona Lisa,” Leonardo was known in his own time (1452-1519) as the original Renaissance genius, a scientist, engineer, inventor, alchemist, musician, painter and sculptor. His 31 surviving notebooks include sketches of hang gliders, parachutes, catapults, dams, anatomical studies, waves and pretty girls. One of his most famous notebooks is the “Codex Leicester,” named after a former owner. A scientific text about the movement of tides and hydraulics, it includes speculation about the composition of the moon among other things. Now owned by Bill Gates, it is exhibited only once each year. This is Minnesota’s moment. It will be paired with sketches, notebooks and videos by contemporary artists and designers including art-and-science projects about coral reefs, Rollerblades and automobile safety seats. (Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 3rd Av. S., Mpls. $20. 612-870-3000 or www.artsmia.org)


Through Sept. 7: Blasting off for the moon or hanging out in a spaceship looks so cool at the movies. The reality is a lot more challenging as “Space: An Out-of-Gravity Experience” makes clear. Radiation, meteoroids, extreme temperatures and even weightlessness make outer space a very dangerous place for humans. This hands-on exhibit includes games, multimedia kiosks, robotics, and a full-scale mock up of the Destiny Lab in which scientists prepare for journeys in outer space. Developed by the Science Museum of Minnesota in partnership with NASA’s Johnson Space Center and other institutions, this extraordinary exhibit gives visitors the sensation of floating in space even while they’re learning about it from astronauts who’ve been there. Plus “Journey to Space,” an Omnitheater film about NASA’s space shuttle program. Not to be missed. (Science Museum, 120 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul. $22-$31 for movie plus exhibit, or $15-$24 for exhibit only. www.smm.org/space)

Romance in Soviet Art

Through Sept. 20: Working to build the Soviet state was the highest and noblest goal of life in the Soviet Union, but somehow people managed to fall in love and marry. Those moments of private life, of romance on the factory floor, or courtship during a lunch break or the walk home, are celebrated in about 40 paintings from the collection of museum founder Ray Johnson. They record wedding rituals, rare and sometimes furtive intimacies, and social change in the U.S.S.R., where individual pleasure didn’t count for much, but thrived anyway. (Museum of Russian Art, 5500 Stevens Av. S., Mpls. $5-$9, free for children 13 and under. 612-821-9045 or www.tmora.org)

International Pop

Through Aug. 29: About 125 paintings, sculptures, films and ephemera by more than 100 artists trace the influence of American pop culture around the world. Organized by the Walker Art Center, the monumental show ranges from witty interpretations of American comics to sassy celebrations of Hollywood-style sexuality and politically charged critiques of the Vietnam War, South American dictatorships and East German communism. (Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. $9-$14; free for 17 and younger and for all on Thursday evenings. 612-375-7651 or www.walkerart.org)

Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia

June 18-Aug. 30: When he wasn’t hooked up with his bandmates, Devo founder Mark Mothersbaugh was an artist. Still is. Big time. He’s turned out drawings, sculptures, photos, videos, prints and even rugs and postcards. In fact, he’s done a hand-drawn postcard pretty much every day since the 1970s, amounting to some 30,000 and still counting. A generous sample of Mothersbaugh’s daft, comic-infused stuff will be showcased as evidence that crea­tive genius takes many forms. (Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 3rd Av. S., Mpls. Free. 612-870-3000 or www.artsmia.org)