Gordon Parks' photography, Renaissance fonts: This week's great art happenings

L-R: Jamel Shabazz, 'Father and Sons,' Harlem, c. 1990; Gordon Parks, 'Black Muslim Schoolchildren,' c. 1963

L-R: Jamel Shabazz, 'Father and Sons,' Harlem, c. 1990; Gordon Parks, 'Black Muslim Schoolchildren,' c. 1963 L-R: Collection of Minnesota Museum of American Art/©The Gordon Parks Foundation; courtesy the artist and the MMAA

This week in the Twin Cities: luminous pastels, gripping photography from African American communities, a chat with Jim Denomie and Chris Larson, and Renaissance-era fonts. 

Frederick D. Somers, 'Gathering in the Light'

Frederick D. Somers, 'Gathering in the Light'

Frederick D. Somers: Borders & Betweens

Where it’s at: American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis 

What it’s about: Frederick D. Somers is a Northfield, Minnesota, artist working in oil and pastels. A full-time artist since 1975, Somers’ pieces capture the beauty of the woods near his home and his travels in Sweden.

Why you should go: With his inquisitive eye and a knack for detail, Somers captures the beauty and peacefulness of Minnesota’s natural beauty. 

When: The opening day artist’s talk starts at 6 p.m. this Wednesday, and is free with museum admission ($12).

Opening Party: A Choice of Weapons, Honor and Dignity

Where it’s at: Minnesota Museum of American Art, 350 Robert St. N., St. Paul 

What it’s about: Gordon Parks spent part of his life in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is known for his poignant portraits and photographs capture Jim Crow era laws and the Civil Rights movement. Brooklyn artist Jamel Shabazz has photographed African American communities since the 1980s. Their work will be shown together at this exhibition curated by Robin Hickman-Winfield, Gordon Parks’ great-niece.

Why you should go: While not originally from the Twin Cities, Parks’ time here early in his life gives us at least partial claim to the photographer’s legendary career. Here’s a chance to revisit Gordon’s work, and see Shabazz’s images. 

When: The opening reception runs from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday. RSVP is requested; you can do so here

Jim Denomie, 'Standing Rock'

Jim Denomie, 'Standing Rock'

McKnight Discussion Series at Mia

Where it’s at: Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis

What it’s about: Local artists Jim Denomie and Chris Larson will be joined by Emily Liebert, curator of contemporary art at the Cleveland Museum of Art, for a discussion. Both Denomie and Larson recently received the McKnight Visual Artist Fellowship award; both artists are connected to the local artist community while also gaining visibility nationally. 

Why you should go: While Jim Denomie and Chris Larson each have very different practices, this should be a very intriguing conversation, in part because both of these artists are fascinating in their own way. 

When: 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday 

"Initial Impressions"

"Initial Impressions"

Initial Impressions 

Where it’s at: Goldstein Museum of Design, 1985 Buford Ave., St. Paul

What it’s about: Let your inner Renaissance Festival geek fly at this exhibition of rare initial capitals from 1470 to 1690. Examples have been taken from the Maywald collection of the University of Minnesota's (Special Collections and Rare Books) and the Wangensteen Historical Library. 

Why you should go: This collection of intricate letters from Renaissance-era books should be a treat. You didn’t know you needed to see these incredible pieces of history, but now you do. 

When: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday