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Native art and new work in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden: This week's art happenings

Brad Kahlhamer

Brad Kahlhamer

The rest of the world is catching up to something that's been obvious to anyone paying attention to Minnesota's art scene for some time: Native American art is foundational to this place, and also at the forefront of contemporary thinking and practice.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art's "Hearts of Our People,"  featuring Native women artists, is creating buzz around the country. Meanwhile, the M and Bockley are highlighting Brad Kahlhamer, who also draws on his Native identity to create strange and marvelous multimedia pieces. Also up this week: New sculptures at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden by Ta-coumba Aiken and Seitu Jones and a revisiting of Judy Olausen's satirical Mother photographs at Norway House.

Brad Kahlhamer

Brad Kahlhamer

Brad Kahlhamer exhibitions in Minneapolis and St. Paul

Where it's at: The Minnesota Museum of American Art, 350 Robert St. N., St. Paul
Bockley Gallery, 2123 W. 21st St., Minneapolis

What it's about: Two years ago, as it was closed and undergoing construction, the Minnesota Museum of American Art embarked on “The M Off-Site” series, featuring programming in local arts venues around the Twin Cities. One event was a conversation with New York-based artist Brad Kahlhamer, whose practice includes paintings, drawings, music, sculpture, and installation work that draws on street-art aesthetics, Native folklore, and pop culture.

This week, both the M and Bockley are exhibiting work by the artist. “Brad Kahlhamer: A Nation of One” at the M has large-scale paintings, drawings, and works on paper, while “Bowery Nation+Hawk+Eagle” at Bockley showcases Kahlhamer's work in a more intimate gallery setting.

Why you should go: The survey exhibition at the M will be Kahlhamer's first in the Upper Midwest. Having both exhibitions open simultaneously gives you a chance to experience this artist twice, in slightly different showcases.

When: The M’s preview party is from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday (tickets are $20 for nonmembers; the show is free otherwise). The Bockley Gallery show opens with a party from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday.

"Shadows at the Crossroads"

"Shadows at the Crossroads" Seitu Jones, Ta-coumba T. Aiken

Seitu Jones and Ta-coumba T. Aiken: Shadows at the Crossroads

Where it's at: The Walker Art Center, 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis

What it's about: Twin Cities-based artists Ta-coumba Aiken and Seitu Jones reveal the latest iteration of their “Shadows of Spirit,” a project that began on the Nicollet Mall in 1992. Now it continues at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The artists have chosen new figures from Minnesota's past, present, and future to create pieces representing shadows. Using iron, seeds, and poetry from Rosemary Soyini Vinelle Guyton, Jones and Aiken make their mark on Minneapolis' iconic park.

Why you should go: After renovations, the Sculpture Garden's grand opening was marred by controversy over the Scaffold sculpture, which was ultimately torn down in response to protests for being insensitive to Native communities. Two years later, here's a chance to imagine new beginnings for the park, which is looking pretty good now that the Native plants have had time to put in some roots and thicken up a bit. “Shadows at the Crossroads” should make a lovely new addition.

When: The reception is from5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, with artists’ remarks at 6 p.m.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Third Thursday: Hearts of Our People

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

What it's about: See the groundbreaking new exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, “Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists” for free when you become a member (which is also free -- but RSVP early) at this Third Thursday event. The show features a fantastic collection of historic and contemporary works by Native female artists from all over the United States and Canada. Incredibly crafted traditional pieces are shown alongside multimedia installation work, fashion, video, photography, sculpture, and more.

Why you should go: The Third Thursday event will include music by DJ Juleana Enright, exhibition tours with Mia curator Jill Ahlberg Yohe, and interactive activities. There will also be an artist talk with Sieng Lee, whose whimsical sculpture installation Siv Yis and His Wooden Horses is currently on view in the MAEP gallery.

When: The party is from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, and the artist’s talk is at 7 p.m.

Judy Olausen

Judy Olausen

Mother by Judy Olausen

Where it's at: Norway House, 913 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis

What it's about: See photographs from Judy Olausen's bestselling 1996 book, Mother, at the Norway House. For the project, Olausen’s mother posed as various pieces of furniture. With humor and empathy, the pieces work as a commentary on the role of women and mothers -- especially those from the Eisenhower-era

Why you should go: While Judy Olausen's joyfully subversive book of photographs came out over 20 years ago, the issues she was illuminating at that time bear relevance today. We still live in a society where women are second-class citizens, after all. Here's a chance to see these iconic images in person.

When: Stop by to check it out from June 21 to September 1.