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This week's must-see art shows

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We’ve always been taught to believe that dreams are one thing, and the real world is another. One exists in our heads, and the other is tangible, able to be proven by our senses. But maybe things aren’t always quite so clear cut. Artists have a way of traversing these two seemingly disparate planes, finding the truth in the stuff of dreams, and the illusions in what seems to be as clear as day. This week, check out how artists navigate these different worlds with their visual arts prowess.

"Delightful 10" 

Where it’s at: Track 29 City Apartments, 2841 Bryant Ave. S., Minneapolis.

What it’s about: Dream team Jennifer Davis and Amy Rice, whose first show together was 10 years ago at Rosalux Gallery, are together again for an exhibition curated by Jan Elftmann and Cynde Randall. The opening event includes art, hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and music by Connie Evingson.

Why you should go: Davis and Rice may take on different subject matters — Davis tends to venture into fantasy while Rice draws from real-world images — but there’s a similar whimsy to both of the their styles, grounded in a clarity and bright, cheerful colors. 

When: The opening reception is from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 23. 

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"Pao Houa Her: My Mother’s Flowers" 

Where it’s at: Bockley Gallery, 2123 W. 21st St., Minneapolis.

What it’s about: In this solo exhibition of work, Hmong artist Pao Houa Her reflects on the presence of silk flowers in her family home in St. Paul, where her family relocated from Laos in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Her’s high-resolution photographs illuminate the texture and complexity of the bouquets, complete with colorful birds and rice sticks, demonstrating the role of flowers in Hmong culture and the intricate style that makes up that aesthetic. The exhibition also includes photographs that draw inspiration from Hmong dating websites, used for Hmong-American men to search for “pure” Laotian women to bring back to the U.S. to marry. Flowers also play a role in these works.

Why you should go: A year ago, Her’s incredible exhibition at Mia’s MAEP Galleries, “Attention,” featured portraits of Hmong and Laotian veterans who had been enlisted in the Secret War in Laos during the Vietnam War. These portraits were courageous, highlighting the sacrifices — which remain unrecognized — that these soldiers made for the U.S. Much like Her’s previous works, this new exhibition mixes the political and the personal, culture and aesthetics, using her keen eye and mastery of the craft.

When: The opening reception is 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday. The exhibition runs through July 30.

"It Never Ends: New Work by Nicole Sara Simpkins" 

Where it’s at: White Page Gallery, 3400 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis.

What it’s about: Stepping into the White Page Gallery might be a bit like walking into a giant storybook, as Nicole Sara Simpkins has been installing imaginative creations within the storefront’s walls. Plan on getting enveloped by these mixed-media drawings, which juxtapose fantastical creatures with real-world events and personal histories. 

Why you should go: Simpkins incredibly layered collages mix color with black and white, huge with small elements, and imagery from imaginative and found sources. The result is a swirling, almost intimidating experience. The opening reception includes performances by Taila Mailman playing solo harp, a reading from Darren Angle, and the band Migrane making music.

When: The opening reception is 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, June 24. Exhibition runs through July 18.

"Caroline Kent: Joyful is the Dark" 

Where it’s at: Public Functionary, 1400 12th Ave. NE, Minneapolis.

What it’s about: Public Functionary is going full-steam ahead with their fourth season. Their second show this year showcases the work of Caroline Kent. Featuring large-scale paintings, works on paper, and text-based elements, the exhibition traverses cosmic space and altered dimensions while exploring language. 

Why you should go: Caroline Kent took a three-year hiatus from abstract painting to explore sculpture, video, and drawing, so we’re happy to see how the time away incites her work in new ways. The paintings, which are drawn from a catalog she’s been using as a way to create a painting language, investigates the relationship between word and text.

When: There will be an opening reception featuring tunes from DJs Sarah White and Just Nine/Kenichi Thomas (also part of ZULUZULUU) at 7 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, June 25. The exhibition runs through July 23.