In a mini-retrospective, eight big drawings spanning a decade (1984 to '94) show Minneapolis artist Bruce Anderson at his best: a tormented free spirit who harnessed bold colors and energetic designs to communicate inner conflicts. Most drawings feature two dueling figures -- menacing abstractions poking with rude lances, or vases shouldering each other aside, or boatlike forms blasting away with swirls of wind and flame.
In the playful "The Cat and the Fiddle," an abstracted feline clutches the instrument and howls while prancing precariously on the lip of a small green vase. Surrounded by silvery squiggles and Pollock-style dribbles of thick paint, the figures sometimes come with pets -- a wild cat, a blue salamander -- but mostly they confront their demons in dreamscapes of ripe pink and turquoise, dense navy or brilliant yellow.
Gallery owner Todd Bockley, a longtime champion of Anderson's art, said the artist has been unable to work since his hands were burned last year in a fire at his Minneapolis home. Rescued from his garage studio, these remarkable drawings survive from a happier moment in a difficult life.
Ends May 29, free. 2123 W. 21st St., Mpls. 612-377-4669 or bockleygallery.com.Groveland Gallery and Annex
Still life and landscape are the preoccupations of Twin Cities painters Carolyn Brunelle and Anne DeCoster, who find beauty along familiar paths. Brunelle arranges vases and vines in formal portraits, their slender forms and sinuous lines symbolically suggesting family groups observed through a scrim of willow. Or maybe a vase is just a vase to Brunelle, whose strength is her pitch-perfect choice of ornamental hues, persimmon against teal, navy with dappled lime.
Grand Marais' rugged coastline inspired DeCoster's vistas of rocks, deep-pooled water and crashing waves that deftly illustrate Lake Superior's turbulent energy and the North Shore's sunny vastness. Her paired views of the lake in daylight and darkness, and almost abstract close-ups of water-carved rocks, suggest the grandeur and intimacy of her ambitions.
Ends May 29. Free. 25 Groveland Terrace, Mpls. 612-377-7800 or grovelandgallery.com.Circa Gallery
Shawna Moore must have a thing for old maps and documents, because her serene abstractions suggest landscapes of cartography and literature. Poetic and glowing, their waxy encaustic surfaces are polished to a luminous sheen through which glow a delicate palimpsest of calligraphy, trailing scratch marks, lace and other intricate verbal and visual gestures. Elegantly understated.
Ends June 5. Free. 210 N. 1st St., Mpls. 612-332-2386 or circagallery.org.Franklin Art Works
New York hotshot Jacob Kassay has fixed on a clever gimmick to flatter and seduce viewers of his fashionable paintings. Sleekly covered with acrylic paint, the canvases are then silver-plated by a chemical process similar to that used in producing mirrors. The results are minimalist paintings whose smoky bronze edges and silvery surfaces bounce back shadowy reflections of viewers. Appealing in their simplicity, the images are at least momentarily mesmerizing in Franklin's careful installation.
A secondary display of stark drawings of rock concert crowds by Paolo Arao, who lives in New York City, suggest the hollowness beneath the ecstasy of mass adulation.
Franklin's project room showcases three sequentially screened videos by Abbey Williams, another New Yorker. In "La Mulatto," she reanimates a neoclassical painting of an enslaved black woman, bare-chested and rope-bound, by projecting the image onto glass and then filming it while she herself assumes the same pose behind the glass. Her subtle movements and gentle breathing seem to bring the slave, hauntingly, to life. Together the three shows are more than the sum of their parts.
Ends May 22. Free. 1021 E. Franklin Av., Mpls. 612-872-7494 or franklinartworks.org.Chambers Burnet Art Gallery
Scissors wizard Sonja Peterson will be showing new cut-paper masterpieces in a show opening Saturday. Based on her recent work in a Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, this is a don't-miss event. Fascinated by 18th-century poetry and voyages of exploration, she has created elaborate vignettes that add modern undercurrents to scenes from that "age of wonder." Almost as delicate as spider webs, they transform 18th-century fantasies into contemporary moments when office towers are engulfed by jungles, and vice versa.
Opening 6-9 p.m. Sat. Free. 901 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. 612-767-6824 or chambersminneapolis.com.Midway Contemporary Art
In a hapless exercise in mystification, Los Angeles artist Maha Saab has strewn a gallery with banal detritus (strips of wall-hung fabric tape, white-painted plywood slab, metal cable with microphone), art-school photos (dopey flower arrangements, notebook pages), and a couple of sketches in homage to genuine talent (Picasso, Hockney). These sad offerings are touted for their "deadpan humor," "layered and complex game of vision" and "ironic stance towards the rigidity of genre." Nope. Like way too many Midway shows, they're just vacuous posturing.
Ends May 22. Free. 527 2nd Av. SE., Mpls. 612-605-4504 or midwayart.org
Mary Abbe • 612-673-4431