'Open Door 12'

The notion that rough times breed better art may be hollow and condescending, but this group show at Rosalux — one of the best exhibitions of the year — succeeds largely due to its theme of people who have been through some crap. From Daniel McCarthy-Clifford, a former drug offender whose deadpan installations balance the heartbreak and absurdity of prison life, to the smashed-glass wall sculptures of Nick Rivers, a construction worker-turned-MFA with 10 years' sobriety, this is a show where you definitely want to read the artists' personal statements. Top honors, though, go to R. J. Kern, whose beatific photographs of sheep, ram and goats mimic the composition and lighting of 1850s landscape paintings. Kern washes these animals in near-religious awe, rendering them angelic and childlike, at once the Madonna and the child. (Through Dec. 31. Rosalux Gallery, 1400 NE. Van Buren St., #195, Mpls., rosaluxgallery.com)