1 Why is the default color palette in the Twin Cities urban landscape made up of so much brown, beige and neutral? As El Niño descends, it's hard to escape that visual blah feeling. Which is why local artist Greg Gossel's new mural, an explosion of Lichtenstein-eque Pop Art, is a welcome addition to the Hennepin Theatre District. Looking out from a nearby rooftop bar, your eyes immediately fixate on the retro glamourpuss declaring, "Take a picture sweetie — I ain't got time to waste … baby I'm a star!" 930 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.
2 Aristophanes' sex-boycott satire "Lysistrata" gets a bustling 21st-century adaptation in Spike Lee's "Chi-Raq." It opens with a catchy overture of rapping street poetry about violence and death in Chicago. When mob rapper Chi-Raq (Nick Cannon in good dramatic form) and his lover Lysistrata (a superb Teyonah Parris) barely survive a gang hit, she recruits the area's women to withhold sex to stop their men's violence epidemic. Lee blends various arts and tones to turn the old play into a miraculously effective movie. Playful and piteous, touching and tragic, it's a timely film of sharp intelligence examining social ills.
3 "Delacroix's Influence: The Rise of Modern Art From Cézanne to Van Gogh" runs at the Minneapolis Institute of Art through Jan. 10. The show gathers a cornucopia of 19th-century paintings by a stellar roster of talents. "Delacroix" offers a new interpretation of the origins of modernist art with its bright colors, contemporary subjects, experimental techniques and attitudes. It should not be missed. artsmia.org.
4 At Eastside, chef Remy Pettus offers a spectacular response to downtown Minneapolis' formidable steakhouse culture. He imports a flatiron cut of Kobe-style beef from Idaho and skillfully takes it to a velvety medium-rare. At $34, it's nothing short of a euphoric beef-eating experience. The kitchen's focus on lighter, healthier cooking really comes through in tuna poke. The menu's casual offerings do not disappoint. And the vast, animated space is one of those rooms that makes everyone a little better looking. 305 Washington Av. S., Mpls.; eastsidempls.com.
5 If you like your music stars complicated and contradictory, you will praise "Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin." In David Ritz's unauthorized biography, newly issued in paperback, the Queen of Soul is a moody genius with a heaven-sent musical gift, strange and brilliant, hot and cold, passive and bossy, industrious and unreliable, imperious and insecure, a national celebrity with plenty of secret pain. Read "Respect" with a YouTube-playing device near at hand to experience Aretha in a hundred shades of glorious.