Made in Minnesota brightens things up at Katherine E. Nash Gallery

<i>Honesty</i> by John Ilg (detail)

Honesty by John Ilg (detail)

"Made in Minnesota," a new group exhibition celebrating sculptural art by Minnesota artists, is a welcome dose of color and levity in these winter months. There's also a good deal of humor thrown into the mix. The show, curated by Wayne E. Potratz and Howard Oransky, features artists such as the late George Morrison, John Ilg, Fred Cogelow, and Mayumi Amada, and is well worth braving the temperatures to enjoy.


Among the many treats "Made in Minnesota" offers is John Ilg's famed Honesty sculpture, created for the 2008 Minnesota State Fair. The sculpture, which is made of rolled-up dollar bills stuck into wire mesh frame to spell out its namesake, was stolen in 2010 from Normandale Community College. Here, Ilg presents Honesty again, as well as several other political works that critique capitalism and other issues. Ilg's 2011 sculpture War on Terrorism -- featuring an American flag made out of mousetraps painted red, white, and blue -- is particularly impactful. 

Fred Cogelow's whimsical relief sculptures also bring a dash of awe to the exhibit. Cogelow has a keen sense of depicting character in his curious portraits, often employing warped perspective and imaginative storytelling. Dining with Big Daddy Hum (and Mum) is particularly great, with the looming Big Daddy Hum staring uncannily outward with his bowl of beans, and Mum behind him, also carrying a rather unnerving expression. 

Another show-stopper is Doily of Foremothers, a piece that takes up an entire gallery room. Made of cut up plastic tarp, the piece is no ordinary doily. The pattern is made of skulls and rose shapes. Hung from the ceiling, the work is back-lit so that a giant shadow spreads across the floor. Taken as a whole, Mayumi Amada's work takes your breath away, perhaps in part due to the change in lighting that aids in giving the piece a magical quality. It's stunning stuff. 

There's some downright goofiness in the exhibit as well. Zoran Mojsilov's phallic Battering Ram is as majestic as it is silly. Eileen Cohen's bright and furry sculptures, which look a bit like distorted Disney mouse ears with a bit of Claes Oldenburg thrown in, also bring a smile. 

There's a lot of presence in this show, with pieces that draw your attention and demand you take the time to experience them for a while. George Morrison's Landscape: Wood Collage does that, as does Kim Mathews's otherworldly Colony reliefs and Judy Onofio's bone sculptures. As a whole, it's a very satisfying collection. 


"Made in Minnesota"

Through February 15

Katherine E. Nash Gallery at the University of Minnesota

405 21st Ave. S., Minneapolis

Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.