‘Keep Honking I’m Reloading’

Ever wonder why the Soo Visual Arts Center is so good? (Or so stimulating, even when it flops?) A lot of it has to do with Bruce Tapola, chief fire-breather of the gallery’s multi-headed hydra of a curatorial board. Tapola, a puckish antihero of local painting, tends to gravitate toward the tight-but-smartly warped — pieces of questionable taste but unquestionable talent. Which is precisely what we get in “Keep Honking.” Standout Emily Bennett Beck brings her muddied, overripe portraits of romance novel heroines. Clea Feline brings deadpan gags and loose, confident brush strokes. And collaborators Michael Mott, David Frohlich and Jay Schmidt have more than a few tricks up their sleeves. (Free opening reception 6-9 p.m. Fri. Ends March 21. Soo Visual Arts Center, 2638 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. Gregory J. Scott


‘Alec Soth: Songbook’

After three years roaming the United States with his camera in tow, Alec Soth has returned with a “Songbook” of black-and-white photos of folks he encountered in the small towns and off-road terrain of America. They are, as usual in Sothland, goofy, earnest and often sad-sack strangers in a twisted landscape of wide horizons, cluttered bedrooms, empty ballrooms, vacant lots, bleak motels and scary woodlots. There they work, eat, pray, golf, nap and dance their way deeper and deeper into that desolate American freak show that Diane Arbus documented so memorably a half-century back. Soth has packaged his “Songbook” photos as an exhibition and a book of the same title, punctuated with phrases from pop tunes of the past. Soth promises to show up and gladhand the opening-night crowd. He’ll also sign copies of the book (“Songbook,” Mack, $60) at 7 p.m. March 12 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. (Free opening reception 6-8 p.m. Fri. Ends April 4. Weinstein Gallery, 908 W. 46th St., Mpls. 612-822-1722 or Mary Abbe



I Am Kindness

Hot off her community-driven fashion shows I Am Mpls and I Am St. Paul, producer Sarah Edwards is back with an art exhibit that turns kindness into currency. Minneapolis artist Jesse Draxler compiled an innovative group of established and emerging artists, from Alec Soth, Terrence Payne and Jennifer Davis to Caitlin Karolczak, Shelly Mosman, Michael Thomsen, Melissa Loop, Noah Harmon and Garrett Perry. To “purchase” a work, patrons will put their names into a bowl by each piece. At the end of the evening, names will be drawn and the winners will receive the art upon completion of designated acts of kindness — from playing with animals at a shelter, to volunteering at a nursing home, to assisting a gallery during open hours. Hosted bar and appetizers from 6-7 p.m. A free after-party with DJ Last Word follows at Marin’s Library Bar. (6-10 p.m. Sat. Burnet Gallery at Le Méridien Chambers, 901 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., www. Jahna Peloquin