Abstract art exploring climate change (and other art shows worth your time)


Artists around the Twin Cities are grappling with big questions this week, including the prison industrial complex, climate change, and living with mental illness. Reflect on these and other big topics while experiencing artistic beauty at these promising events this week.

To Really See 

Where it’s at: Hennepin County Library, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.

What it’s about: Artists communicate their experience with mental health and medication in this traveling exhibition. Organized by Spectrum Artworks, its tour begins at Hennepin County Library with an opening reception that includes a special video about mental illness and stigma.

Why you should go: If you know someone in your life with mental illness, experience it yourself, or want to be better prepared for interacting with people who struggle, this is a show that can aid you in better understanding through art.

When: 5:30-10 p.m. Thursday.

Black August

Where it’s at: Juxtaposition Arts, 2007 Emerson Ave. N., Minneapolis.

What it’s about: JXTA invites artists Cameron Downey, Namir Fearce, Jesus Vegas Zaragoza, and Ysabella Johnson to talk about fallen black freedom fighters and African Americans who have suffered under the prison industrial complex. The event coincides with the opening of “Relics: An Investigation of Black August," which features new work by JXTA’s Public Art apprentices.

Why you should go: Art often serves to instigate change in society. With this opening and panel discussion, people grapple with the artist’s role in subverting our current oppressive justice systems, and envisioning a better future.

When: 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday.

Interpretive Blendings

Where it’s at: On 2 Gallery, California Building, second floor, 2205 California St. NE, Minneapolis.

What it’s about: Brenda Litman’s abstract paintings reflect on climate change, while Farida Hughes explores concepts of identity.

Why you should go: Take a dip into the abstract for this show, where artists use the stroke of a paintbrush and a nuanced treatment of color to explore disparate themes.

When: 1-3 p.m. Saturday.

Graveyard Shift / Low Visual Distance

Where it’s at: Rosalux Gallery, 1400 Van Buren St. NE, Minneapolis.

What it’s about: Artists Jim Hittinger and Shannon Estlund team up for an exhibition that explores the intersection of suburban settings with the natural world. Both painters explore beyond the hum drum of urban vitality, offering their interpretation of these landscapes with vastly different results. Whether in beauty or in isolation, the show offers a peek at places on the outskirts of the metro area, reflecting on the clash between nature and civilization.

Why you should go: Hittinger’s stark reflections on abandoned lots, chain-link fences, and decay differs from Estlund’s more luminous realism, but both of these painters work with a certain clarity. It will be interesting to compare similar subject matter with such different interpretations.

When: The opening reception run from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, with a talk at 7 p.m. The exhibitions run through August 27.