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This week's must-see art shows

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Let's face it: It's been an awful couple of weeks. And in these trying times, we need artists — to nurture us, to guide us, and to help us make sense of the world around us. Here are some shows to check out this week for some art therapy. 

Keeping Nearly Upright

Where: Gallery 71 at 71 France, 7161 France Ave. S., Edina

What it’s about: Artists Eileen Cohen, Lauren Flynn, and Ryan Hughes are featured in this exhibition curated by Mary Bergs. The artists explore the vertical realm through ceramics, intaglio prints, and painting.

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Why you should go: Photos of Eileen Cohen’s new ceramic sculptural work should be enough to get you in the door of this intriguing exhibit. Referencing terra cotta roofing tiles, Cohen’s ceramic pieces ruffle out in a gorgeous rose-like structure. It should be an interesting show, given Bergs' keen eye for the unexpected.

When: Opening reception 6:30- 8:30 p.m. Wednesday

NEVER ODD OR EVEN

Where: Light Grey Art Lab, 118 E. 26th. St., Ste. 101, Minneapolis

What it’s about: Optical illusions, palindromes, and visual trickery, plus conceptual pieces about duality and opposition percolate in Light Grey Art Lab’s new show. Taking on seemingly divergent realities like love and hate, science and religion, healing and disease, etc., the 60 international illustrators and designers turn diametrical thinking on its head. The reception includes the gallery’s Annual Artwork Fundraiser, with past prints, projects, publications, zines, postcards, skateboards and more for sale.

Why you should go: It’s so easy to get caught in the trap of dualism. Our whole society is structured by concepts of right and wrong, good and bad. But sometimes it’s good practice to throw all that away, to challenge yourself to deconstruct these systems that confine and limit us. Artists in this exhibit will help you maybe shake up your ideas of polarity in search of a new, more nuanced view of the world.

When: 7-10 p.m. Friday

Poets in the Park at Rondo Days

Where: Rondo Education Center, 560 Concordia Ave., St. Paul

What it’s about: There’s plenty of art and culture to be found at Rondo Days, the annual festival celebrating the historic Rondo neighborhood. The theme this year is “Recognizing the Past - Honoring the Present - Soaring into the Future!” in remembrance of the community’s African American roots. Be sure to check out Clarence White and Hawona Sullivan Janzen as they create on-the spot poetry with vintage typewriters and paper.

Why you should go: Clarence White had a similar typewriting poetry project for the Soap Factory Biennial in 2015, and the results were magical. Now he teams up with Hawona Sullivan to create poems that capture the sensory experiences and stories of Rondo Days, with a select number of poems being presented on stage.

When: 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Saturday

A Small Figurative Painting Show

Where: The Porch Gallery, 3306 Park Ave. S., Minneapolis.

What it’s about: Local artist Lamar Peterson joins up with Los Angeles-based artist Amir H. Fallah and Boston-based artist Lavaughan Jenkins for a mini-exhibition at the Porch Gallery.

Why you should go: There’s perhaps no truer channel into the soul than figurative painting, a form that taps into all of the emotions and even grotesqueness of the human condition. Here’s a chance to check out some cutting edge takes on what it means to paint the human form, all in the very small porch gallery.

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When: Opening reception 8-11 p.m. Exhibition runs through August 6 (hours: 10 a.m.- 10 p.m. Tues.- Sat.)