Essma Elaine Imady, Pillar of Salt – a requiem for those who look back, Mixed media, 2016, © 2016 Essma Imady


Essma Imady: Thicker than Water

Exhibition runs through June 24, 2018

Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (2nd floor)

Artist talk on Thursday, May 17 at 7 p.m.

This exhibition is not for the faint of heart. Essma Imady came to the U.S. in 2011 from Damascus, Syria. The Syrian Civil War began in early 2011. Throughout the conflict, countless incredibly painful videos have come out, and the U.S.’ involvement continues. Imady is deftly sorting through all of this in her work.

In “Holy Book of Emails” (2016), Imady collects a year’s worth of emails from her grandmother, who lives outside of Damascus and sends a daily email to all of her family members describing the mundanities of life (what the cats are doing, etc.) to the horrors of war (is that echo from a shell that has landed closeby?). Other sculptures, like “A Pillar of Salt” (2018), are simply a teddy bear wearing a child’s backpack, nestled in a pile of salt that accumulates to a child’s weight. In all of her work, she dismantles the sensationalization and war-mongering told in the news, bringing the war back to a more personal, devastating level that is just as powerful as it is heartbreaking.

Allen Ruppersberg’s “The Singing Posters: Allen Ginsberg’s Howl by Allen Ginsberg (Part 1 & 2)” is a massive depiction of the Ginsberg poem.Courtesy of the artist and Greene Naftali Gallery, NYC.


Allen Ruppersburg: Intellectual Property 1968-2018

When: March 17-July 29

Opening party: Friday, March 16 at 9 p.m. Friday ($15).

Where: Walker Art Center, 725 Vineland Pl., Mpls.

Admission: $7.50-$15; free for 17 and younger, and for all Thursday evenings.

Info: 612-375-7600 or

Allen Ruppersberg’s retrospective at Walker Art Center is called “Intellectual Property 1968-2018,” but it won’t be as dry as it sounds. Unless you factor in the dryness of Los Angeles, the city in a desert where Ruppersberg came of age as an artist.

Opening with a party Friday night, this hearty exhibition is a journey through not only the artist’s vast body of work, but his mind as well.

A conceptual artist with assemblage tendencies, Ruppersberg moved to L.A. from Cleveland in the 1960s for art school. Inspired by mass media such as newspapers and books, archival films, street signage, the landscape of Southern California and even Harry Houdini, the artist has produced everything from parody-like built environments such as “Al’s Café” to conceptual paintings like “The Picture of Dorian Gray” — a copy of the entire Oscar Wilde novel — and portraits of himself as other people. Read more about the exhibition here:


Karen Sherman: Minor Bodies

Hair & Nails Gallery (2222 ½ E 35th St., Mpls 55407)

When: Thurs. & Fri. 3-6 p.m.; Sat. & Sun. 1-6 p.m., and by appointment

Exhibition runs through March 31

Karen Sherman is invested in the body, bodily fluids, family, astronomy, lab animals, blood donation, fugue states and many other webs of interconnectivity. Her work is dance, writing, theater, music and “handyman arts” all at once, and her recent exhibition Soft Goods was co-commissioned by the Walker Art Center, P.S. 122, and Center for the Art of Performance UCLA. Still not sure what this show is about? Go see for yourself, in-person, at the gallery!

Installation of work by Pao Houa Her at Midway Contemporary Art. Courtesy of Midway Contemporary Art.


My Grandfather Turned Into a Tiger

When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wed.-Sat. Ends April 7.

Where: Midway Contemporary Art, 527 2nd Av. SE., Mpls.

Info: 612-605-4504 or

Seeing Pao Houa Her’s solo exhibition “My Grandfather Turned Into a Tiger” is like awakening in the middle of a dream and trying to tell it to someone, but it’s all hazy and none of it seems to flow in a linear way. The show, on display through April 7 at Midway Contemporary Art, offers a shimmery array of black and white, color and lenticular photos (which give the illusion of three dimensions) taken in the Twin Cities and Laos. Many of the images show people posed in front of backdrops, or dressed in costumes, a consistent theme in Her’s photography and in Hmong communities. Read more:

“Rosas y Estrellas” (“Roses and Stars”) by Raúl Martínez depicts 19th-century Cuban revolutionary José Martí (center) flanked by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, with Latin American freedom fighters including Simón Bolívar behind them. Courtesy of Patricia and Michael Farber Collection, New York.


Adiós Utopia

When: Nov. 11-March 18 at 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Wed., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thu., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun.

Where: Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.

Admission: $9-$14; free for 17 and younger, and for all Thursday evenings. 612-375-7600 or

This is the last weekend to see the fascinating exhibition “Adiós Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950” at the Walker Art Center. With 106 works by 63 artists spanning seven decades of creative production from the island nation, and many exiles from Cuba, this exhibition tells the history of the island from a variety of Cuban artists after the 1959 revolution. While there was a very serious criticism about the show from the Minnesota Cuba Committee, questioning a lot of the structural framework around the show itself, it is worth seeing this exhibition. From geometric abstraction and concrete art of the 1950s and 1960s to “Opus,” an immersive video work by Cuban artist José Ángel Toirac, with Castro’s voice chanting statistics that he used in notoriously long speeches, this show offers a fascinating look at Cuba’s post-revolutionary history, at least from one perspective. More: